48-Hour Field Guide to Jackson County

Looking for a quick weekend getaway or mid-week escape? Search no further than the scenic and adventurous NC mountain towns of Jackson County. Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, Jackson County, is made up of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro and Sylva and is a short three-hour drive from most of the Southeast’s biggest cities, making it ideal for your next adventure. To help you make the most out of your trip and experience as much as possible while visiting, check out this field guide on how to best plan your 48 hours in Jackson County during our “Secret Season.”

Get up and get going!

As the best area in the state for outdoor recreation, Jackson County offers plenty to choose from to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds the county. Get your adrenaline pumping in the morning on one of the area’s many hiking trails. Available for all skill levels, select a path to a local waterfall or set out to see one of the area’s panoramic views.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of the area, pack a picnic and head to Silver Run Falls, a lovely waterfall tumbling down from Silver Run Creek. Another great choice is Whitewater Falls, one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies at 411 feet. Both are easy walks and stunning sites!

As the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway, panoramic views await at the Richland Balsam Overlook. This jaw dropping view will provide you with a breathtaking backdrop for souvenir snapshots. As a bonus, another stop on the Parkway, Waterrock Knob Overlook, will provide you with a clear four-state view of the Smoky Mountains and beyond.

Perhaps one of the area’s most awe-inspiring and favored hikes and scenes, await at the summit of Whiteside Mountain. Known to be one of the oldest mountains in the world at approximately 390-460 million years old, the vistas along this moderate trek will reward every hiker who traverses the loop trail that ascends Whiteside’s 4,930-foot crest.

Before setting out check out Jackson-Ready safety guide which has great tips to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable trip to the NC Mountains.

Sign up for an afternoon adventure.

Keep the action alive with a fun afternoon of biking along the trails or fly-fishing in the many trout-filled rivers that weave through the county. In fact, the WNC Fly Fishing Trail®, which is the first and only of its kind in the country, provides many options and information on Jackson County’s hot spots for landing your next “big one.” If you’re lucky, you might even catch all three types of the area’s popular trout – Brook, Brown and Rainbow- and score a “Tuck Grand Slam.” If planning your trip for the warmer spring and summer months, the county’s rivers also are ideal for rafting and kayaking trips.

For something a little more relaxing, sign up for yoga at the Yoga Mill, meditation at The Meditation Center in Sylva or an afternoon of natural therapy Shinrin-Yoku with Pinnacle Forest Therapy. If in need of some pampering, treat yourself at one of Jackson County’s spa and wellness facilities. Indulge in options including body treatments, massage therapies and more at its selection of local spas.

Enjoy an evening of entertainment.

Wrap up each day with a stop at one of Jackson County’s six breweries. All members of the Jackson County Ale Trail, these breweries offer over 120 local brews. Plus, many breweries have food as well as local activities and entertainment, so you can make an evening of it. Of course, you’ll also find plenty of non-alcoholic drink options like fresh-made ginger ale, kombucha and locally made sodas to enjoy as well.

When you’re ready to call it a night, you’ll find a wide array of cabins, hotels and B&Bs across the county to fit any budget. In addition to in-room fireplaces and hot tubs in some accommodation offerings, many offer specials and packages, especially during our “Secret Season.”

Given there is so much to see and do in Jackson County, you may find it difficult to sample even just a little bit in 48 hours. Therefore, go ahead and plan to stay a few extra days or start planning your return visit right away. Download a free Visitor Guide now to help you create an adventure you won’t soon forget.

Feature photo of Blue Ridge Parkway sunset by IG @mwwphotography

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