DescriptionThe mountainous southwestern tip of North Carolina is overspread by Nantahala National Forest. This 531,148-acre wooded region, which gives rise to 10 rivers, is named after the Cherokee word meaning “land of the noonday sun” and refers to the deep gorges that receive bright light only at noon, when the sun shines directly above.
Approximately 600 miles of roads and trails, including the Appalachian Trail and a 35-mile portion of the Bartram Trail, thread the forest. Scenic drives near Andrews pass Nantahala Lake and Wayah Bald; the “Trail of Tears” crosses the Snowbird Mountains from Andrews to Robbinsville. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, named for the author of the poem “Trees,” and Slickrock Wilderness also are in Nantahala. There are several recreation areas designated for public use.
Nantahala also boasts numerous waterfalls. Whitewater Falls, 9 miles south of Sapphire on SR 281, plummets more than 400 feet in a number of smaller cascades. At Glen Falls Scenic Area, 2 miles south of Highlands on SR 106, the river plunges over a 50-foot ledge, providing a spectacular show.
Cherohala Skyway is a scenic 51-mile highway between Robbinsville and Tellico Plains, Tenn. This scenic stretch is known as the “mini Blue Ridge Parkway.” This mountain road offers no facilities.
Fishing and hunting are permitted; a license is required. Information is available from the district ranger stations at Robbinsville, (828) 479-6431; Murphy, (828) 837-5152; and Franklin, (828) 524-6441; or from the Forest Supervisor's Office, 160 Zillicoa St., Suite A, Asheville, NC 28801; (828) 257-4200.
Things to SeeNantahala Gorge