Escape to the Mountains: Five Ways to Cool Down in Jackson County, NC

The temperature is rising, but the mild weather in the mountains of Western North Carolina make outdoor recreation a breeze throughout spring and summer. The plethora of trails, perfect for hiking, backpacking or biking, wind through a variety of landscapes ranging from picturesque peaks to rolling valleys, and lead way to several natural ways to cool off on a warm day. Whether the journey leads to a waterfall pool, high-flying fun or an evening taking in the local culture, adventure for all levels awaits in Jackson County, NC.

Lounge by Lake Glenville
Lake Glenville is one of the highest lakes east of the Rockies, with 26 miles of shoreline, seven islands and three waterfalls hidden in its alcoves. Visit family-friendly Pines Recreation Area at Lake Glenville with a roped-off swim beach for safe splashing, plus restrooms and picnic tables. Life jackets are also available at no charge so everyone can relax and have a good time. The largest lake in Jackson County, visitors can also hit the water for boating, waterskiing and fishing.

Find Waterfalls and Views
For those seeking an easy find and short walk, Silver Run Falls is one of the most photogenic waterfalls in Jackson County. The 40-foot cascading waterfall tumbles into Silver Run Creek. The large, sandy pool is calm and glassy, ideal for swimming in the shallows, or having a picnic on the banks. In Sylva, the 1,100-acre Pinnacle Park offers several trails that range from moderate to difficult for outdoor enthusiasts and families alike. The trails take guests by streams, cascades, and beautiful vistas. Those looking for a challenge can climb to the summit, which reaches almost 1,800 feet of elevation gain and showcases a 270-degree view where guests can see for miles on a clear day.

Take a Wild River Ride
Throughout the summer, paddlers can experience the Tuckasegee River and choose their level of adventure. The Lake Glenville Dam releases, which take place this year on June 10, July 1 and 22, and August 12 and 26, create class IV rapids over a 5.5-mile stretch. On the milder side, Smoky Mountain River Adventures offer family-friendly outings for the whole family, including children as small as 40 pounds. Open May through September, Tuckaseegee Outfitters gives rafters the choice of five-mile solo or guided trips that last about 2-3 hours. The rapids are beginner-friendly with the speed picking up toward the end of the trip to test rafters’ skills.

Explore by Land and by Sky in Sapphire Valley
Take adventure to the skies at the Vordach Zip Line at Sapphire Valley Resort. The attraction offers a two-hour excursion with 16 platforms, two bridges, and 12 zip lines. For those that prefer to stay on the ground, Red Bird Foot Golf is the new internationally popular hybrid sport that is a cross between golf and soccer. Players see who can get a soccer ball into each 21-inch hole on the 9-hole course with the fewest amount of kicks – perfect for a morning or afternoon of friendly competition.

Enjoy the Sounds of Nature and Live Music
Perfect for enjoying the cool mountain evenings, several towns throughout Jackson County host live music where attendees can take in the outdoor beauty of the area. On Fridays from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day, Concerts on the Creek at Bridge Park in Sylva invites music lovers to bring a picnic blanket and chair to watch talented local acts. Performances include everything from bluegrass and rock to reggae and classic pop. Food trucks and craft beer vendors are also featured throughout the summer. Head down to Cashiers for Groovin’ on the Green at Village Commons. Friday evenings at 6:30 p.m. from June 2 through September 1, enjoy a variety of musical acts. Bring a blanket and a chair, and dogs are also welcome.

Visit Jackson County in the spring and summer, and find a range of places to stay, from vacation rentals and cabins perfect for large families, or cozy cottages and mountain inns. Jackson County’s small towns all feature unique restaurants for any appetite. Bring a sense of adventure, and experience a picture-perfect mountain getaway, located just a few hours’ drive from most of the Southeast’s major cities.

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