Keeping it Cool This Summer in the Jackson County, N.C. Mountains

As the temperatures begin to climb, Jackson County, NC offers your escape. Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains National Park with stunning natural landscapes, our trails, rivers, lakes and waterfalls provide ample opportunities to stay cool. Whether you seek solace or crave the adrenaline rush, we have your Top Six Ways to Beat the Heat in the N.C. Mountains, so plan your trip today!

1 – Chase Waterfalls

Jackson County is home to breathtaking waterfalls that offer a refreshing retreat from the summer sun. Embark on an adventure to discover these natural wonders, such as Whitewater Falls, one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies, or Silver Run Falls, known for its easy hike and 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. In search of a swimming hole to splash around in all day? Then take the family to Cashiers Sliding Rock, a natural waterslide surrounded by beauty.

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. 

2 – Hike a Mountain Trail

Immerse yourself in the shade of our lush forests by exploring our numerous hiking trails. Head towards Cashiers and Sapphire to Panthertown Valley, known as the “Yosemite of the East,” where you can hike along scenic trails, passing by waterfalls, streams and stunning vistas. Closer to Sylva and Cherokee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway offer unforgettable hiking experiences 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 feel the crisp mountain air as you ascend to the top. As you traverse our trails, be mindful of the Leave No Trace® principles to keep Jackson County clean, sustainable and vibrant.

3 – Tie One On With Fly Fishing

Escape the heat by wading into one of our pristine mountain streams or rivers for a day of fly fishing. Jackson County is home to the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail® and we are renowned for our excellent fly fishing opportunities. Enlist the help of a local guide to learn how it’s done and discover the best spots are to cast your line. Then, tie your fly and prepare to have fun!

4 – 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!

5 – Seek Leisure at the Lake

Escape to the pristine waters of Lake Glenville, the highest lake east of the Mississippi River! Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters, lounge on the sandy beach at Pines Recreation Area or rent a pontoon boat to explore the lake’s scenic coves, islands and four hidden waterfalls. Consider a tour on a luxury pontoon yacht – and even catch a sunset – with Lake Glenville Scenic Waterfall Cruises. With its stunning mountain backdrop, 26 miles of shoreline and crystal-clear waters, Lake Glenville promises an idyllic day of relaxation and rejuvenation.

6 – Take a Trip Down River

For a calmer alternative to rafting, navigate our mountain waters by renting a kayak or inflatable tubes from one of our local outfitters and embark on an adventure down the Tuckasegee River, Chattooga River, or the lesser-explored tributaries. 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.

Jackson County 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 Trip Planner which features updated maps, safety guides, tips and more! Then, after an exciting day of adventuring, satisfy your appetite at one of our friendly and delicious restaurants and head to your home away from home for a good night’s rest at one of our hotels, inns or cabins. Play On!

Feature photo courtesy High Hampton

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