A Guide to Chilling Out in the NC Mountains

When the summer heat is in full swing, a visit to Jackson County, NC offers a cool escape. Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains with stunning natural landscapes, our destination provides ample opportunities to stay cool while enjoying the abundance of outdoor activities.

Whether you seek solace in tranquil hikes or crave the adrenaline rush, here are 6 ways to beat the heat:

  1. Chase Waterfalls

Jackson County is home to several breathtaking waterfalls, providing a refreshing retreat from the summer sun. Embark on an adventure to discover these natural wonders, such as Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rockies, or Silver Run Falls, known for its crystal-clear pool at the base. The misty air and cool waters will rejuvenate your spirit as you bask in the beauty of these cascading treasures. If you’re in search of a swimming hole to splash around in all day, take the family to Cashiers Sliding Rock.

A safety note: Remember to abide by posted warning signs indicating danger and stay on established trails. Never climb on or around waterfalls and never play in the water above a waterfall. Rocks can be slippery and it’s easy to lose your balance especially with bare feet. Currents near waterfalls can be extremely swift even in areas further upstream. Never jump off waterfalls or dive into plunge pools at the base of waterfalls. 

  1. Explore Hiking Trails

Immerse yourself in the shade of our lush forests by exploring our numerous hiking trails. Head to Panthertown Valley, often referred to as the “Yosemite of the East,” where you can hike along scenic trails, passing by waterfalls, streams, and stunning vistas. Alternatively, explore the trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park or embark along the Blue Ridge Parkway for an unforgettable hiking experience amid nature’s refreshing shade canopies. For extra cool air, put Waterrock Knob Trail on the list. This steep and rigorous climb gains 412 feet in elevation and you’ll notice the crisp mountain air gets even cooler as you ascend to the top.

  1. Try Fly Fishing

Escape the heat by wading into one of our 15 prime mountain streams for a day of fly fishing. Due to our pristine rivers and streams teeming with trout, we are home to the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail® and are renowned for our excellent fly fishing opportunities. Enlist the help of a local guide to learn how it’s done and discover where the best spots are to cast your line are. 

  1. Ride the Rapids

For an exhilarating and refreshing adventure, take on the whitewater rapids of the Tuckasegee River. Join a guided whitewater rafting trip that caters to different skill levels, from thrilling rapids for adrenaline seekers to calmer “mom-approved” cascades. Feel the spray of cool water and soak up the stunning scenery along the way.

  1. Seek Leisure at the Lake

Escape to the pristine waters of Lake Glenville, the highest lake east of the Mississippi. Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters, lounge on the sandy beach, or rent a pontoon boat to explore the lake’s scenic coves, islands and hidden waterfalls. With its stunning mountain backdrop and crystal-clear waters, Lake Glenville promises an idyllic day of relaxation and rejuvenation.

  1. Take a Trip Down River

For a calmer alternative to rafting, navigate our mountain rivers by renting a kayak from one of our local outfitters to embark on an adventure down the Tuckasegee River, Chattooga River, or the lesser-explored tributaries. You can choose from a solo trek or a guided trip with a seasoned expert. Travel through calm stretches, explore hidden coves, and feel the rush of cool water.

Our destination offers a myriad of refreshing activities to keep you equally cool and entertained during your next summer vacation. Make the most of your trip and plan in advance using our guided Trip Planner featuring maps, safety guides, tips and more.

Feature photo courtesy High Hampton

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