Couple enjoying sunset at Waterrock Knob

Safe Travels in the NC Mountains

We’re all looking for an escape this year – from the endless online meetings, conference calls, classrooms at home, and the new normal.  Sometimes it’s good to just get away from it all and hit the reset button and enjoy life at a slower, more relaxed pace. But where can you go that’s safe?

Our remote mountain destination in the Western North Carolina mountains offers 494-square miles of natural social distancing, meaning you can avoid the crowds and be as on or off the grid as you’d like to be. Jackson County, North Carolina is only a few hours’ drive from Charlotte, Nashville, and Atlanta.

With endless trails and plenty of room to spread out, take a cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy the beauty and remoteness of the mountains at your own speed. Rent a cabin or Airbnb and escape the crowds or cozy up at a boutique or riverside hotel.  We all deserve a getaway this year, and our mountain towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva will deliver a safe, clean, and memorable vacation for the whole family to enjoy.

Our state and county officials are doing everything they can to keep you and your family safe. As a part of our safety pledge, please make sure you do your part to keep yourself, your loved ones, and our residents safe. In our neck of the woods, we practice the three W’s – wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands frequently. Out on the trails, when you’re not around others, you can ditch the mask for crisp, clean, and cool mountain air.

Your Trip at Your Pace

Getting away from the crowds is easy in Cashiers’ Panthertown Valley. Over 6,295 acres to spread out and 30-miles of mixed-use hiking trails offer endless adventure. With over a dozen waterfalls there is something around every turn. We encourage you to grab a map in advance and make sure to Leave No Trace and Recreate Responsibly. If you’re in town grab a map at Highland Hiker.

If you’re staying in the Sylva/Dillsboro area, check out Pinnacle Park which is located less than ten minutes from downtown. With over 1,400 acres, Pinnacle Park also offers plenty of space to social distance. The trail is a bit steep, but the 3.5-mile trek will be worth it once you reach the top. The ‘Pinnacle’ itself overlooks our beautiful town and offers sweeping views of the valley and miles of mountains.

Try your hand at something new like fly fishing. The WNC Fly Fishing Trail® is made up of 15 prime spots to reel in the catch of the day. Fly fishing is a great way to enjoy a new and naturally socially distanced activity. If you’re a little more comfortable with some guidance, book a float trip with one of our world-class fly-fishing guides. Not only do they have the expertise to help you reel in your next fishing tale, but they are also keeping things clean and safe for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

If you prefer to tackle a trail on two wheels, you won’t want to miss Fire Mountain Trails in Cherokee. With more than 12 miles of thrilling pumps, jumps, and berms, their newest course, “Skilly,” offers an advanced adventure for experienced cyclists. For those with little ones, check out the Kid’s Bike Park located along the Tuckasegee River Greenway. This single-track trail offers beginners the perfect place to peddle with less strenuous trails.

Some of our other favorite off the beaten path options include Bear Pen Gap, Mingus Creek/Deeplow Gap, and Alum Cave Bluffs in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Discover one of the most scenic motor roads in the country along the Blue Ridge Parkway. With more than 70 miles of the most scenic stretches in Jackson County, enjoy a sunrise or sunset during ‘Golden Hour.’ Find the perfect picnic spot at one of the scenic pull-offs and bring along takeout from one of our unique non-chain restaurants.


Safety First

We’ve all been doing our part to make Jackson County a safe place to live and to visit during these times. Jackson County’s small towns have been taking on some big responsibilities. We’ve placed foot-operated hand sanitizer at all our restaurants, installed barriers, created outdoor seating areas, and created takeout/curbside online ordering.

Many of our businesses have participated in the training program, ‘Count on Me NC’. More than just a catchy saying, this program provides business owners and staff extensive training to maintain and exceed best practices for health, safety, and best practices.


Your Safe Haven

The best thing about enjoying the mountains of western North Carolina is that there are plenty of activities to choose from. Enjoy your trip at your own pace and enjoy plenty of room to spread out regardless if you choose a charming downtown bungalow or a remote lakeside cabin. When you’re ready, we’ve got the perfect safe, and socially distanced destination for you. End this year with great memories that you and your family will share for a lifetime. Plan your trip using our Trip Planner and check out our ‘Avoid the Crowds’ Itinerary for ideas.

Header image courtesy of Mindy Towns

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