Photograph by Thomas Platt
Just under a three hour drive from Atlanta, you’ll discover Jackson County, North Carolina, 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, 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 some of the best reasons to visit, and you’ll discover even more at DiscoverJacksonNC.com.
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 trails.
Discover mountain streams
With 4,600 miles of trout streams and an annual stocking of 92,800 trout, Jackson County is North Carolina’s Trout Capital: the perfect spot to cast a line. The county is home to three of the state’s North Carolina 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. Cast a line.
Enjoy local drafts
North Carolina Beer Month gets hopping in April with beer-related events at the breweries on the Jackson County Ale Trail. The town of 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. Taste brews while taking in the views.
There is magic in water
Author Loren Eisley said, “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” In Jackson County, you can see this magic happen in the amazing number of accessible waterfalls. From a short hike in to a more rugged adventure, exploring them can fill a day, a week, or even a lifetime. You’ll be rewarded with memorable views and a little magic here on Earth. One such spot is Silver Run Falls, just outside of the heart of Cashiers. An easy hike from the parking area leads to a small sandy area perfect for getting up close to the cascade. Jump right in.
A place of many superlatives
Located in the oldest mountain chain in North America, the Appalachians, Jackson County boasts one of the highest lakes and the second-highest cascade east of the Rockies—Lake Glenville at 3,500 feet above sea level and Whitewater Falls at 411 feet. With more mountains and waterways—185 named summits and 250 named creeks and rivers—you also get more miles of Blue Ridge Parkway to explore: over 70 miles. One big package of adventure.
Breakout 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 what you’ll see at Sapphire Valley’s annual Outhouse Races on February 18, 2017. Plan a weekend around the event, or come throughout winter to hit the beginner-level slopes at Sapphire Valley on skis, snowboards, or tube at Frozen Falls Tube Park. Hit the slopes.
Experience a once-in-a-lifetime celestial phenomenon
Jackson County will be one of the few areas in North Carolina where you can experience an extremely-rare celestial phenomenon: a total solar eclipse. All of the county’s towns, including Sylva, Dillsboro, Cullowhee, and Cashiers, are in the direct path of the Great American Solar Eclipse. On August 21, 2017, the towns will have a stellar view of one of nature’s most-visual displays followed by a couple minutes of complete darkness. For cities inside the 70-mile-wide path of the solar eclipse, the sky will turn pitch black, the air will cool, and stars will be visible in the middle of the day. This is the first time in 26 years that America has seen a total solar eclipse, and it is one of the few that will sweep the nation from Atlantic to Pacific coasts. Make your plans today.
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, Cashiers is known for an array of antique shops including Dovetail Antiques, Vivian Metzger Antiques, and Summer Place Antiques. Traditional and classic arts and culture.
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. Look no further for the perfect place.
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 and the Chalet Inn & Suites or high-end resorts with spas and numerous amenities like High Hampton Inn, Bear Lake Reserve, or Sapphire Valley Resort. Lakeside and mountaintop vacation homes, cottages, and rentals with breathtaking vistas are ideal choices for families. Places to stay for your getaway.