Set in the middle of Western North Carolina, discover Jackson County, a place of lofty peaks, rushing water, and spectacular scenery. The Blue Ridge Mountain towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville, and Sapphire await only three hours from Atlanta, rewarding visitors with a getaway filled with both relaxation and outdoor adventure. The beautiful towns of Jackson County have something for everyone, no matter what type of escape you’re looking for. To plan your great escape, here are seven of the best reasons to visit, and check out MountainLoversNC.com to discover even more.
Getaway to mountain trails
Backpack in Panthertown Valley, known as the “Yosemite of the East.” This Blue Ridge National Heritage Area features 12 waterfalls and more than 30 miles of backcountry trails for camping, hiking, and mountain biking. For an easier hike that offers stunning views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains, hike Whiteside Mountain’s two-mile loop that straddles the Eastern Continental Divide. The mountain is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world, between 390 and 460 million years old. When driving the famed Blue Ridge Parkway, stop at the highest point on the parkway, Richland Balsam, and hike the 1.5-mile loop to the summit.
Discover mountain streams
With 4,600 miles of trout streams and an annual stocking of 92,800 trout, Jackson County is the perfect spot to cast a line. The county is home to three of the state’s NC Mountain Heritage Trout Waters. The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing trail is the first and only fly fishing trail in the country, including 15 different spots perfect to catch brook, brown, and rainbow trout. Whether you’re looking for wide-open rivers or secluded mountain streams, the WNC Fly Fishing Trail has you covered. The heart of the trail, the Tuckasegee River, is the county’s largest body of water, flowing some 50 miles. The “Tuck,” as it’s called by locals, is also one of the most-accessible rivers you’ll find anywhere.
Break out of the ordinary
Up for something a little different? Imagine watching someone climb into a decorated outhouse built on skis, sit on a toilet seat, and fly down a snow-packed slope—all while attempting to stay upright without crashing into the banks. That’s a taste of Sapphire Valley’s annual Outhouse Races, happening February 20, 2017. Plan a weekend around the event, or visit throughout winter to hit the beginner-level slopes at Sapphire Valley on skis or snowboards, or tube at Frozen Falls Tube Park.
Enjoy local drafts
Sylva is home to three walkable breweries, all within one mile of each other. With traditions rooted in the old country, Heinzelmännchen Brewery pours German brews perfect for any time of year. Visitors can stop by local chocolatier Baxley’s to create their own chocolate and beer tasting. Innovation Brewing offers 37 beers on tap, a covered outdoor area and one of the best food trucks around. Sneak E. Squirrel has nine rotating beers on tap and a special “Hop Infusion” option where you choose hops to infuse into one of their IPAs with a French Press. All are family-friendly and offer non-alcoholic house-made sodas on draft.
Explore local crafts
In Dillsboro, pottery thrives, and the town hosts the juried WNC Pottery Festival every November. Tree House Pottery and Riverwood Pottery feature open studio hours weekly. At Dogwood Crafters in Dillsboro or Qualla Arts and Crafts in Cherokee, visitors can peruse authentic Appalachian and Native American crafts. If antiquing is your style, these also abound. Cashiers is known for an array of antique shops including Dovetail Antiques, Vivian Metzger Antiques, and Summer Place Antiques.
Delightful destination for a wedding
No matter the time of year, Jackson County is perfect for a destination wedding. Whether brides want a rustic, mountain-chic theme or are looking for romantic elegance, Jackson County has the answer. Bear Lake Reserve, Lonesome Valley, Sapphire Valley Resort, Balsam Mountain Preserve, High Hampton Inn, and the Sawyer Family Farmstead are a few of the full-service venues with stunning mountain views and exceptional wedding services.
Experience the ultimate getaway
From bed and breakfasts to cabins and resorts, staying in Jackson County fits any budget. Couples can retreat to a romantic bed-and-breakfast like Balsam Mountain Inn or the Chalet Inn & Suites. If you want to indulge yourself, choose from high-end resorts with spas and numerous amenities like High Hampton Inn, Bear Lake Reserve, or Sapphire Valley Resort. Vacation homes and cottages are ideal choices for families with lakeside and mountaintop rentals overlooking breathtaking vistas.