Spring weather is Carolina blue skies, warm temps, and longer days. Temperatures in southeastern cities can begin to reach uncomfortable levels as spring transitions into summer. The North Carolina mountains of Jackson County have long been an oasis for travelers avoiding harsh heat. Our towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva are full of ways to cool off, from hidden swimming holes to cold craft beverages, cool hikes, and more. Learn how to keep things cool this spring in Jackson County this travel season.
Swimming Holes – Jackson County is full of scenic swimming holes tucked away in hidden coves. A favorite among families visiting the Cashiers area is Cashiers Sliding Rock. This natural waterslide is much gentler than the neighboring sliding rock in Brevard and offers families with children a great space to relax and cool off. A short drive away is another family favorite, Silver Run Falls. This iconic cascade feeds a pristine swimming hole underneath crystal clear waters and glistening silver sand. Make sure to visit our safety page before swimming and never jump or dive into swimming holes, as there can be hidden rocks beneath the water that can cause injury.
Lakes – Other options for cooling off include one of Jackson County’s beautiful Lakes. Lake Glenville is the county’s largest lake, with over 26 miles of shoreline. The Pines Recreation Area is a sandy swim beach in the mountains with restrooms on-site, picnic benches, and an ADA fishing pier for everyone to enjoy. Explore the lake’s four hidden waterfalls by boat with Lake Glenville’s Scenic Waterfall Cruises. Captain Mark takes groups as large as 14 on the water in a 28-foot luxury pontoon yacht. Rentals are also available if you’d like to venture at your own pace.
Waterfalls – The most iconic waterfalls in the region are in Jackson County. Easier to access waterfalls include Mingo Falls in Cherokee as well as Whitewater Falls, Dry Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls in the Cashiers area. There are some stunning waterfall hikes to enjoy for those looking to kick things up a notch. In Cherokee, Chasteen Creek Falls in the Great Smokies requires a 2.5-mile round trip hike along a relatively flat trail. Also in Cherokee, Soco Falls is one of the few double cascades in the region but does require sturdy shoes and a short but very steep hike traversing muddy rocks. Make sure to always explore waterfalls safely and to take only pictures never chances. Heed posted safety warnings and never stand on top of a waterfall as deaths have occurred.
Cool Hikes –Trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway tend to remain about 10 – 15 degrees cooler than in Sylva, allowing for a pleasant breeze as you trek. Winding through a Spruce-Fir Forest, the Richland Balsam Trail ascends the third highest peak in the eastern US at over 6,400 feet. Other cool hikes along the parkway include Waterrock Knob, Bear Pen Gap, and Devils Courthouse. Riverside walks are an easy way to enjoy nature at a more leisurely pace. Check out the Oconaluftee River Trail or the Jackson County Greenway for shady strolls and cool breezes off the river.
Fly Fishing & Rafting – The Tuckasegee River is enjoyed by both paddlers and anglers alike. Jackson County is the North Carolina Trout Capital® with over 92,000 fish stocked annually. Booking a guided trip is one of the best ways to enjoy the sport – no gear or experience is required. Paddlers looking to take on the ‘Tuck’ can book a float trip with our whitewater outfitters & guides. Enjoy ‘mom-approved’ rapids and fun for the whole family, as many of our whitewater outfitters open Memorial Day Weekend.
Spring Blooms – May flowers are blooming all over Jackson County, including Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron, and Azaleas. Great places to see these blooms are along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Panthertown Valley, or Sylva’s Pinnacle Park. Check out the Top Wildflower Hikes for even more options.
Cool Drives – Enjoy a road trip and see the best sights around western North Carolina. Take a drive along America’s Favorite Motor Route, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and enjoy sweeping mountain vistas all from the comfort of your car. In the Great Smokies, elk, bears, turkeys, and other wildlife can be seen as you cruise through the park, especially near the entrance at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. For two-wheeled adventure, our Motorcycle Guide highlights the top drives in the region, including byways, scenic back roads, and more.
Cold Drinks & Ice Cream
From craft brews to frozen custard, there’s something for every palate and age to enjoy after a day of adventure. In Sylva, Jack the Dipper has served their famous waffle cone for over 40 years. Cashiers welcomed Crossroads Custard & Cold Brew in 2022, and it’s become a favorite for a cold cone on a hot day. Adults will enjoy the Jackson County Ale Trail. Check out our seven breweries across the county with over 120 locally crafted brews on tap. One of the best ways to enjoy the Ale Trail is participating in our new Ale Trail Pass. Visit four breweries and receiver a free Ale Trail pint glass. Learn more here.
Coolest Places to Stay
Jackson County is home to some of the coolest Vacation Rentals, including Airbnbs, VRBOS, and Vacation Rental Agencies. Cool off by the pool by staying at one of our exclusive resort properties or enjoy a stay at our award-winning hotels – we have a stay for all styles and budgets. Check out our Trip Planner for even more inspiration.
Header Image Courtesy of @lilflypinay