Popular Hiking Trails to Waterfalls Near Highlands
Did you know North Carolina is home to more than 250 waterfalls along with miles of hiking trails? Many of the trails and waterfalls offer picturesque, one-of-a-kind views.
As your journey begins in Highlands, make your way to Fourth Street, which is US 64 and designed as the Waterfalls Byway and the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway. The scenic drives offer a variety of options for beginners to more experienced hikers.
Tuckasegee River, The Gem of the Southeast
Nestled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, Jackson County is home to the Fly Fishing Trail with its center piece being the Tuckasegee River, which dissects the county as it flows north to Fontana Lake. The "Tuck," as it is known to the locals, is a beautiful tail water used for the 2011 USA Fly Fishing Championships, in which the Gold Medal was won by Team USA Member Lance Egan.
On June 1, 2016 the NC General Assembly proclaimed Jackson County as the Official Trout Capital of North Carolina. Jackson County is home to 4,600 miles of trout streams with a good mixture of hatchery supported streams as well as wild streams. Be sure to check out www.NCTroutcapital.com for more information.
In 2009, Jackson County became the first to ever have an officially designated Fly Fishing Trail, which highlights 15 different streams and rivers, for any angler to test their skills.
Many anglers have taken the task of catching and releasing trout or smallmouth bass in each mapped out location. The map gives detailed information about each stream, direction, and type of fish you can expect to catch. Read more on their website!
Make a Quick Trip to the Falls
If time is short during a visit to Highlands but you want to have a moment in nature, add a stop at Dry Falls high on the list of things to do. The half-mile trail in the Nantahala National Forest allows visitors to go behind the waterfall without getting wet, hence the name Dry Falls
- There are a number of hiking trails leading to a waterfall near Highlands in the Nantahala National Forest.
- A popular spot is Bridal Veil Falls which requires little or no walking.
- The Cullasaja Falls, about nine miles outside of Highlands, is only visible by car.
Popular hiking trails to waterfalls near Highlands, N.C. are plentiful. Map out which one will get you the best views of waterfalls.
Bucket List Worthy Views and Natural History
We at The Park on Main®, the luxury hotel in Highlands, recognize the beauty that encompasses this small town. We point to nature’s scenery in Highlands, NC and the geological wonders that shape this place into a visual feast – a rugged work of art sculpted upon ancient tectonic shifts of earthen masses.
Popular Hiking Trails to Waterfalls
For hiking enthusiasts, getting to the waterfalls is a great way to get some exercise and see spectacular views. The trail leading to Silver Run Falls is described as easy, likely easy for beginner hikers.
A more experienced hiker may be ready for the challenge of the steep trail leading to Glen Falls. A trio of waterfalls, each with a 60-foot drop, makes up Glen Falls. There is also Ranger Falls which is a part of the Ranger Falls Loop Trail. The hike to this waterfall is uphill and may be better suited for more experienced hikers.
Exploring a Rain Forest
Cue the jungle music for your stay at The Park on Main® to explore a real-live rainforest. Southern Appalachia is one of two rainforests in North America; the other is in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, both are deemed temperate rainforests.
You may not come face to face with any chimpanzees or rhinoceroses or roaring lions (outside of a zoo). But for a rainforest, Southern Appalachia – with its proud mountains – certainly provides a wealth of butterflies, beetles, snakes, bog turtles, black bears, peregrine falcons and other exotic wildlife, including endangered bats and rare salamanders in green-deep, dense forests. Temperatures in tropical rainforests are warmer; temperate rainforests – like the one surrounding Highlands, North Carolina – are generally cooler and are inhabited by hundreds of species of trees with broad leafs.
Going to Extremes
The Southern Appalachian Mountains produce some geological extremes: The New River is the oldest in North America and Mount Mitchell has the highest peak east of the Rockies. The range consists of the Blue Ridge Mountains and four other physiological provinces, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
For those brave-of-heart explorers of the wild blue yonder, we point to Highlands Aerial Park, 9625 Dillard Road, Scaly Mountain, North Carolina. Some of the activities available include touring the nature trail, zip-lining the canopy tour, zip-lining the mountain top tour and enjoying the giant mountain swing. The park and zip-lining activities are less than 10 miles southeast of The Park on Main.
Top of the World
To get a good look at how very ancient history shaped Southern Appalachia’s natural artistry, here are two vantage points:
- The Cullasaja River Gorge between Highlands and Franklin, North Carolina along the 61-mile Waterfall Byway provides 21st-century visitors an amazing view of three major waterfalls whipping through the Nantahala National Forest. Motorists can drive under the 120-foot Bridal Veil Falls and walk behind Dry Falls.
- Sunset Rock gives hikers a cliff side view of granite slabs and brilliant sunsets over Highlands, Brushy Face Mountain on the west and the Horse Cove vista on the east. Take Highlands’ Main Street east to Horse Cove Road. Continue on Horse Cove Road from Highways 28 and 64 to the Highlands Nature Center.
- Nobility resides in the Nantahala National Forest and goes by the name of Whiteside Mountain, which rises to nearly 5,000 feet. Located between Cashiers and Highlands, the cliffs of this proud monster appear as ice sheets laid haphazardly upon the sharp descents. Geologists estimate the rocks of this mountain are nearly 460 million years old. A 2-mile trail takes hikers to the top of a 750-foot cliff.
Learn more about splendid mountain views. Follow us on social media for more information about our beautiful area.