With over 2,800 acres, North Carolina Zoo is the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. Aside from the 500 developed acres of the Zoo, much of this land is set aside for reservation due to its unique geological, botanical, and wildlife value.
One of the most interesting features of our local wild-lands is Purgatory Mountain, which is part of he Uwharrie mountain range. On the mountain, there are several isolated upland pools and seeps as well as a prairie home to the Endangered Schweinitz’s sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii). Purgatory Mountain Trail is the primary, original trail on Zoo property, and sole access remains via foot trails. However, the Zoo now features approximately four miles of marked trails.
Another property, Ridge’s Mountain Preserve, an area of approximately 280 acres, is home to unique geologic features, soils, plants, and even two upland pools which are breeding habitats for marbled salamanders. The Preserve also shares a deep and important connection with local communities around the Zoo. The preserve’s trail system approximately two miles) was constructed over time by two Eagle Scout members of the Asheboro Troop 527 chartered by the First United Methodist Church in Asheboro.
Most recently the Zoo has added three additional parcels that will serve as buffers for existing property from future developments. In this way, the Zoo helps to maintain important habitat and corridors for native wildlife.