Things to Do in the Highlands Area
If shopping or golf is not of interest to you, take advantage of our wonderful outdoor living room surrounded by mountain peaks, tranquil lakes, roaring waterfalls and swift mountain streams to find things to do. See the back roads by bike. Enjoy the lakes by canoe. Hike the peaks and waterfalls and forge the streams with a fishing rod. Come enjoy nature at its finest. You are sure not to run out of things to do, not matter your interests.
Appalachian ATV Adventures
Explore the forest with guides on a fun to ride Polaris Magnum 325 4-wheeler equipped with automatic transmission. Included is a picnic lunch. Call ATV TO GO or visit www.atvtogo.com
Signal Ridge Marina at Lake Glenville near Cashiers is less than a half-hour drive. Rent a pontoon boat, ski boat or fishing boat. Advance reservations are needed. Call 828-743-2143
Canoes and/or mountain bikes can be rented from Adventure Depot.
828 743-2052 or 828 507-0174.
Cherokee Indian Reservation
Visit the living museum where you can watch Cherokees make a wooden canoe, grind corn and do other things that are a part of their heritage. Between June and Labor Day enjoy Unto these Hills, a production of Cherokee Heritage. Stop by Harrah’s Casino located on the reservation.
Franklin is known as the Gem Capital and there are many Gem Mines located in the Cowee Valley north and west from Franklin. However, just a short drive west from Highlands on Hwy 64W (Franklin Road) is Jackson Hole Trading Post with a recently installed powered water sluice and mud from the area in order that you can do your own mining. It is fun and relaxing and the children love it. For more information call Jackson Hole Trading Post at 524-5850.
The Highlands area and the Nantahala National Forest have many wonderful hiking areas. For the best information, check with the US Forest Service at 526-3765 or stop by the Visitor’s Center on East Main Street. Area outfitters and bookstores have information books and detailed maps on trails. Guided hikes can be arranged through The Adventure Depot at 828-743-2052.
Chattooga Loop Trail
A two mile round trip, this hike features a pleasant walk through the woods and then along the river, ending with a spectacular view of rock formations from Bull Pen Bridge known as “The Iron Bridge”. The trail is off Horse Cove Road.
Ellicott’s Rock/ Bad Creek Trails
These trails are 7 miles each, round trip. The trailhead for both is at Bull Pen Road. Ellicott’s Rock is a rock embedded in the Chattooga River bank bearing the letter NC, carved by surveyor Andrew Ellicott. He thought his to be the intersection of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The actual point of intersection is Commissioner Rock ten feet downstream.
Hurrah Ridge/West Fork Trails
Beginning at the end of Blue Valley Road, this 2.1 mile trail is apart of an historic trail used by Blue Valley residents to drive livestock up to grazing grounds in The Flats of Scaly Mountain.
The trailhead of this 4 mile round trip hike is Whiteside Cove Road. Highlights include the Chattaooga River forced into a narrow channel, a cascading river and a swimming hole.
This hike is only .2 miles round trip and begins at Bull Pen Road. The summit offers an impressive view of the mountains. The slopes which face due east provides a favorite place to view a sunrise.
Yellow Mountain/ Shortoff Mountain
The hike to Shortoff Mountain is 3 miles round trip; the one to Yellow Mountain is 9.6 miles. The trailhead is at Cole Gap on Buck Mountain Rd. The trail to Shortoff Mountain is a short, easy hike to a view of the Buck Creek area and has views to the south. Yellow Mountain is a difficult trail with many ascents and descents traversing three of the areas scenic mountains.
With the trailhead at the Whiteside Mountain parking area, this two-mile round trip trail offers spectacular views from the high ridge top 2100 feet above the valley floor. Whiteside Mountain has the highest sheer cliffs in the Eastern US.
US Forest Service Recreational Facilities
The US Forest service operates the recreational facilities in the Nantahala National Forest to include the waterfalls and hiking trails. Cliffside Lake recreational area has hiking trails, picnic tables and pavilions; fishing and swimming are permitted. A NC fishing license and trout stamp is required for anyone over 16 years of age who wish to fish.
Highlands & Cashiers
Fly fishing guides are available with advance reservations.
Whitewater Fly Fishing
Fly fishing instruction.
Morning, afternoon and all day classes available.
Ladies only groups welcome.
The Fish Hawk Fly Fishing School
706 746 0631
Bald Mountain Road between Sky Valley, GA & Scaly Mt., NC
Offers one, two and three day intensive classes in fly fishing both workshop and practice.
Sapphire Valley, NC
Open year round with indoor riding ring
Smoky Mountain Railroad
Is a fun year round adventure. These are several different routes through the mountains as well as different traveling styles from open air to club coach to enjoy the ride. Saturday night there is a gourmet dinner train featuring a four-course meal and cocktails. During the summer months the railroad offers Raft & Rail. Travel 22 miles by rail then a two-hour rafting trip down 8 miles of the Nantahala River. A picnic lunch, hot shower and transportation back to the train depot are included. Bring your children and grandchildren to visit “Thomas the Train”. Thomas visits each summer and offers 10 half-hour trips through the mountains each day. For reservations call 800-872-4681 or visit their website at www.gsmr.com
White Water Rafting
Nantahala Outdoor Center
There are several choice whitewater rivers in our area. Sections III&IV of the Chattooga River is the closest and the most popular. First time rafters will enjoy Section III. Trip length 6 hours. Minimum age: 10 years old.
Section IV of the Chattooga is the steepest and most exciting. Drops and ledges challenge the rafter while breath-taking waterfalls and scenery make this an unforgettable experience. Trip length 7 hours. Minimum age: 13. Overnight adventures are also available.
Smoother river rides are available on the Ocoee and Nantahala Rivers.
For more information call one of the above mentioned outfitters or for objective advise put your trip into the hands of Adventure Depot, our Highlands adventure concierge. 828 743-2052.
9625 Dillard Rd, Highlands, NC 28775
A family adventure park with something for all ages. An ecologically inspired botanical experience with the thrills normally found in pole based amusement parks. The Brave Indian Family Course is designed for 4 years old and up and allows parents and grandparents share with the children the thrill of overcoming obstacles in and above the trees The Mountain zip line course is for those who question their readiness to step off a platform and fly from tree to tree. The world class zip line tour adds the longer, higher, faster zips to complete the 15 element course. For the non participants, there are nature trails that allow viewing the adventures from below. No one need stay home. Three trail areas have over 100 native plants identified and something is in bloom from April until Frost. The trails are free to everyone in the group whether they zip or not. There is no cancellation penalty. The unique ‘if you don’t go, you don’t owe’ policy takes the stress out of making advance reservations which are strongly encouraged.