Its namesake motion picture was filmed an ocean away in Romania, but a trip to the real Cold Mountain in the Blue Ridge of western North Carolina can still evoke the tale of Confederate...
SUNBURST, N.C. Its namesake motion picture was filmed an ocean away in Romania, but a trip to the real Cold Mountain in the Blue Ridge of western North Carolina can still evoke the tale of Confederate soldier Inman’s homeward journey.
The mountain itself is secluded inside Pisgah National Forest. You can view it from afar from plenty of different directions and angles, but to actually stand on its slopes demands Inman-esque determination.
Undeveloped (there is no town of Cold Mountain) and unreachable by road, only serious hikers should attempt to reach the 6,030-foot summit. Trails are unmarked and often confusing, even to those who know the area well, said Haywood County emergency services director Greg Shuping.
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Since the movie opened, county officials have been called twice about hikers drawn by the movie who were overdue coming off the mountain, Shuping said. Officials worry there will be a surge of people attempting the climb once spring comes.
The Art Loeb Trail, which leads to the top of the mountain, departs from the back of a Boy Scout camp on the mountain’s western flank. From there, it’s 11-mile round-trip to the summit, with an elevation gain of 2,800 feet. The tree-carpeted vistas are gorgeous stark and dramatic in the winter, lush in spring and summer, breathtaking in the blazing colors of autumn. But they’re also not what you saw on the big screen in “Cold Mountain.”
When the director and production designer scouted the mountains for possible shooting locations, they found logging and American chestnut blight had robbed the mountains of their old-growth forests. Signs of modern life encroached everywhere.
They ended up filming in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, where the forests more closely resemble the landscapes brought to life in Charles Frazier’s book “Cold Mountain.”
Visitors to the real Cold Mountain will find groves of rhododendron, which thrive in the wake of logging and inhibit hardwood regrowth, along with second-growth forests of birch, cherry, maple and beech.
Close watchers of the film will note that the southern Appalachians are nowhere near as jagged and dramatic as some of the ranges Inman is shown scaling in the film version.