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Nantahala National Forest

Nantahala National Forest is North Carolina's largest forests, covering over 531,000 acres. Situated in western North Carolina, the forest varies in elevation from 1,200 fee in Cherokee County to 5,800 feet in Jackson County.

Nantahala National Forest is divided into three massive wilderness areas. Ellicott Rock Wilderness is at the intersection of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The National Wild and Scenic River crosses this wilderness area. The Southern Nantahala Wilderness, at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a rugged area with numerous streams and steep, rough trails. The Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness is a great area for backpacking and hiking, with numerous trails that vary in difficulty, from easy to very, very difficult.
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Scenic Drives
Mountain Waters National Scenic Byway is a 61 mile drive that twists and turns by waterfalls, river gorges, rural countryside, and spectacular hardwood forests. Dry Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are two especially scenic stops. Cherohala Skyway is a 36 mile byway that runs through some of the most rugged areas of Nantahala National Forest. Located near Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, elevation tops out at over 5,300 feet.

Nantahala National Forest has literally hundreds of mile of hiking and biking trails. An excellent moderately difficult hike is the Whiteside Mountain Hike. It's a 2.5 round trip hike located between Cashier and Highlands. You'll pass 750 foot sheer cliffs, with amazing panoramic views, colorful wildflowers, and rare wildlife, such as the peregrine falcon. A longer hike is Wayah Bald via the Appalachian Trail. This 8.6 out and back moderate hike has an elevation gain of over 2,000 fee. The view from Wayah Bald, however, makes this hike definitely worth your while.

Of course, just taking a relaxing walk through Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is worth the time. You'll see trees that are hundreds of years old, waves of wildflowers, and beautiful green ferns and moss-covers

With the exception of developed recreation areas, fishing is allowed throughout North Carolina's national forests. And Nantahala National Forest offers plenty of opportunities for fishing. Some of the best areas are Fontana Lake, Lake Chatuge, and the Upper Nantahala River. Trout are plentiful, including brown, rainbow and native brook trout. You can also reel in bass, walleye, and catfish. 

More Info

You can find out more about everything Nantahala National Forest has to offer by dropping by, or contacting, one of it's Ranger District offices.

Nantahala National Forest has three Ranger Districts: Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala Ranger District, and Tusquitee Ranger District.

Cheoah Ranger District
Robbinsville, North Carolina
(828) 479-6431

Nantahala Ranger District
Franklin, North Carolina
(828) 524-6441

Tusquitee Ranger District
Murphy, North Carolina
(828) 837-5152
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