Each year between Jan. 15 and Aug. 15, the U.S. Forest Service closes several rock faces in Western North Carolina to recreational activities, including rock climbing, to protect the rare peregrine falcons that nest there. Peregrine falcons mate for life and return to the same site each year to nest. If the pair is disturbed, they will leave the site and may not nest again until the following year.
Activities that are prohibited to reduce disturbance to nesting and fledgling falcons include rock climbing, rappelling, ice climbing, bouldering, hang gliding and slacklining. Drone use on the rock faces themselves and flying drones in the vicinity of the rock faces and within posted areas is also prohibited. Overnight camping within posted areas is not allowed. Through-hiking on designated trails is permitted within the posted boundaries, but hikers should not approach rock faces.
Two areas in the Nantahala Ranger District are closed: Pickens Nose (East Face), where all the climbing routes on the East Face are closed, and Whiteside Mountain, where all climbing routes between and including Southwest Arete and Mainline are closed.