While travel may be on hold for the time being, the spirit of travel remains alive and well. Now is the perfect time to start dreaming about your next getaway and the NC Mountain towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva are here to inspire you. Jackson County offers plenty of natural outdoor adventure, including off-the-beaten-path experiences and wide-open spaces perfect for spending a day reconnecting with nature. There is no question that the best way to social distance is in the great outdoors, and with 494 square miles to explore, we’ve got room for you to spread out. When the time is right, trade traffic for trees, and venture out to our mountain oasis for a well-deserved adventure you won’t soon forget.
Trek the Trails
Grab takeout for breakfast to prepare for a big day of exploration in Jackson County. Start in Sylva and choose from resident favorite eateries including The Farmhouse Mercantile & Coffee Bar, City Lights Café, White Moon, and The Coffee Shop.
Now that you’re fueled up and ready to go, hit the trails at Sylva’s own, Pinnacle Park. The town of Sylva’s acreage is 75% encompassed by Pinnacle Park, with 1,500 acres full of natural wonder. Just a short drive from Sylva’s historic downtown, you will be greeted by wide-open trails with plenty of space to practice good social distancing. Pinnacle Park offers several trails to choose from, including the pleasant and less strenuous, Bridge Loop Trail. Suitable for all ages, relatively flat, and accessible from the parking lot, this beginner-friendly trail is perfect for those looking for something relaxing and approachable. Those looking for something a little more extreme, but with a big payoff, will want to tackle the West Fork Trail at Pinnacle Park. Spanning over 7-miles roundtrip with over 3,000 feet in elevation gain, this trail offers a great workout and an even more rewarding view atop the peak.
Regardless of the path you choose, during your hike, soak up the peacefulness that the hardwood forest exudes and breathe in the crisp, clean, and fresh mountain air before heading back to Sylva for a delicious carryout lunch from one of our many unique non-chain restaurants.
Insider Tip: Spend a little more quality time amongst Mother Nature and bring your lunch along to enjoy a picnic lunch at the summit and the wide-open spaces on display at Pinnacle Park.
Go Chasing Waterfalls
The southern end of the county offers numerous natural wonders to enjoy. One of the best-kept secrets in the NC Mountains is Panthertown Valley. Affectionately known as the “Yosemite of the East,” Panthertown offers over 30 miles of mixed-use trails, a multitude of wide-open spaces, and the highest concentration of natural waterfalls in Jackson County. You’ll want to make sure you pack a lunch and plenty of water to make the most out of your experience. Before heading out for your trek, make sure to purchase a map so that you can easily navigate the area. If you would prefer a more leisurely trek to experience waterfalls, hike in from the Cold Mountain Road entrance and then trek to Schoolhouse Falls.
See one of the Oldest Mountains in the World
If you’re looking for a milder loop trail, check out Whiteside Mountain. Considered by geologists to be one of the oldest in the world, Whiteside offers a 2-mile loop trail that boasts incredible views from atop the highest vertical cliffs in the eastern United States. End your day with a curbside pickup from one of Cashiers’ many delicious restaurants including Cornucopia, Randevu, or Whiteside Brewing. Step it up a notch and make a romantic evening out of it with a picnic dinner while enjoying the golden hour sunset on Whiteside mountain.
Reel it in on the ‘Tuck’
With the weather warming up the water is ready for action. The Tuckasegee River runs through the heart of Jackson County and is a favorite among anglers, swimmers, and paddlers alike. Hittin’ the Tuck is a great way to spend a day, and we’ve got the activities to make it an unforgettable experience. Enjoy the Tuck’s “Mom approved rapids” that are gentle enough for children via a tube, ducky, or kayak available for rent from one of our area outfitters.
Check off a bucket list item and try your hand at fly fishing on the WNC Fly Fishing Trail®. The first and only trail of its kind in the country, the WNC Fly Fishing Trail® maps out 15 prime spots to catch trout. Don’t worry about the accessories needed to partake in this locally loved activity. Our local outfitters and guides will “hook” you up with the gear you need to make the most out of your NC Trout Capital® experience. End your FFT adventure in the best way possible, by taking a guided float trip for a day. With some help from our area guides, you may even get lucky enough to reel in all 3 Brook, Brown and Rainbow Trout for a Tuck Grand Slam.
At the end of a long day of adventuring, it’s time to refuel at one of our many area restaurants before calling it a day for some much-needed relaxation. Keeping customer safety top of mind, many of our restaurants are offering takeout options including curbside pickup. Satisfy your craving for more fantastic fare while in Jackson County with takeout from the eclectic and delicious eatery, Guadalupe Café. Located in a 1920s drug store, Guadalupe Café utilizes locally sourced farm-to-fork ingredients in their funky tropical fusion cuisine. In Dillsboro, you’ll find one of the “Top 25 BBQ Restaurants in America,” Haywood Smokehouse. Looking for a treat to reward yourself? Grab a warm waffle cone full of your favorite ice cream from Jack the Dipper or indulge in a brew from one of the many breweries along the Jackson County Ale Trail. Many of our breweries are also offering pick up for growlers and six-packs to go of locally brewed craft beverages to enjoy at your leisure.
We miss you and can’t wait to welcome you back! Until then, make sure to keep up with all of the latest Jackson County info by subscribing to our E-newsletter. For travel inspiration, check out our virtual 2020 Visitor Guide. Until we can meet again, Stay Home, Stay Safe and We Can’t Wait to See You Soon!
Photo Credit @andrephotography