Spring has returned to the North Carolina mountains once again, bringing warmer and longer days, vibrant wildflower blooms, and the best time of year out and enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains. As many families and friends begin to plan out their Spring Break, how about trading screen time for outdoor adventures and relaxing at a slower pace? Skip the crowded cities and beaches and enjoy the serene beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Load up the family car and enjoy a road trip to our small towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva. Located about an hour west of Asheville, Jackson County provides the perfect home base for regional adventure. Enjoy a cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway or a day exploring the Great Smokies – your mountain views are closer than you think. Check out these options to plan your Spring Getaway in the Western North Carolina Mountains.
Spring Into Adventure
Family Friendly Waterfalls Hikes are a must! Jackson County is home to dozens of the state’s best waterfalls, some of which are simple strolls from the parking area, others can be turned into a half-day hike. With pleasant temperatures and great weather, you won’t want to miss these options on your trip.
Whitewater Falls is a short quarter-mile walk from the parking area. Known as one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies, this stunning cascade is a family favorite due to its natural beauty, easy access, and on-site amenities, including restrooms, outdoor green space, and picnic benches. Grab a to-go meal from nearby Cashiers or pack a picnic before you head out and enjoy the day exploring at your own pace. The cost of parking is $3, so make sure to visit the kiosk and scan the QR code at the entrance. Make sure to bring binoculars to view the falls close up.
Silver Run Falls requires a two-minute stroll along gentle terrain and is perfect for little explorers. Located just five minutes outside of the Cashiers crossroads, this waterfall is a favorite for young families who are ready to make a splash – as there is a crystal-clear swimming area near the base of the falls. During Spring, the Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron bloom creating a beautiful around the waterfall.
Mingo Falls in Cherokee is another excellent option! This stunning cascade is over a hundred feet tall and has stairs leading from the parking area to the base of the falls. The viewing platform gives you a perfect vantage point to gaze at the waterfall from top to bottom and is a safer option for families with small children.
Easy Hiking Trails for every level of adventure are a great way to enjoy the mountains. Check out these trails and more for a day in nature.
Oconaluftee River Trail traverses the crystal-clear riverbanks of the Oconaluftee River in Cherokee. Complete with a full-scale replica of an early Appalachian homestead, you can learn about early life in the Smokies while taking in the sights and sounds of nature. Keep your eyes peeled along this trail for elk, as they are known to rest in the forest on warm Spring days.
Mingus Mill is another educational and fun option for families. Located a half-mile from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance, this 19th-century mill was used to create cornmeal for more than 50 years. Learn about the structure from on-site historians and even tour inside the mill when open.
Tuckasegee River Greenway is located between Sylva and Cullowhee, just five minutes from downtown. This two-mile there-and-back trail is a favorite for anyone looking to enjoy a cool walk on a warm spring day. Make sure to bring the kid’s bikes along, as the Kids Bike Park is located about a half-mile down the trail.
The Village Green is a 13.5-acre park located at the heart of the Cashiers Crossroads. This area has wonderful options for families, including botanical gardens, a playground, picnic areas, a walking path, and even a Story Walk, written by a local author.
Hammock Adventure Capital
Slow things down by enjoying the relaxation of a hammock – all you need is two trees. Jackson County, NC, is the Hammock Adventure Capital of the USA, with over 185 named summits, jaw-dropping vistas, and peaceful rivers. Kick back and read a book or enjoy the soothing sounds of nature while you hang out.
Lake Glenville Dam Releases – April 2 – 3, June 4, July 16 & 23, and August 6 & 20, 10 am – 4 pm: at the base of High Falls in Glenville, a magnificent display of water appears seven times throughout the spring and summer. Paddlers and onlookers alike witness the transformation of the Tuckasegee River West Fork into class IV rapids.
Sylva Brew Hop – April 8 – 10: This event is one of the best ways to enjoy brews along the Jackson County Ale Trail. Your ticket includes two brews at four local breweries, an souvenir Ale Trail Glass, and a weekend of fun.
Dillsboro Easter Hat Parade – April 16, 10 am – 4 pm: This fun event is perfect for the whole family. Led by a fleet of antique cars, participants can bring or create their own hats and join the parade starting on Front Street in the mountain town of Dillsboro.
Fire Mountain Inferno – April 23 & 24, 9 am – 3:30 pm: is one of the region’s most thrilling mountain biking events. This cross-country-style race takes place at Cherokee’s Fire Mountain Trail system.
Greening Up the Mountains – April 23, 10 am – 4 pm: Sylva’s signature heritage & arts festival is now in its 25th year. This event takes place in downtown Sylva and is an excellent display of contemporary and traditional Appalachian arts, music, and culture.
Concerts on the Creek – Begins May 27: at Sylva’s Bridge Park this free and fun live music series runs every Friday at 7 pm throughout the summer.
Groovin’ on the Green – Begins May 27: Dust off those lawn chairs and head to the Village Green in Cashiers for this free concert series.
Spring Fling Art & Crafts Walk – May 28, 10 am – 5 pm: Dillsboro’s Front Street is transformed into a live arts market. Take a springtime stroll and meet local artisans while purchasing your favorite pieces to take home.
Opening for the Spring in Cashiers:
Cornucopia $ – Cashiers’ favorite porch is now open for its 45th season.
The Orchard Restaurant $$ – Is now open fully for the Spring. This delicious destination has been open for 22 years and is set in a 100-year-old farmhouse.
Canyon Kitchen $$$ – Food & Wine’s ‘most romantic restaurant in the region’ opens on April 1 for the season. Enjoy elevated farm-to-table fare with a stunning box canyon in the distance. Reservations are required.
Book Your Adventure
Jackson County is the perfect place to relax this Spring. Located just a day’s drive from over half of the US population, your family vacation is even closer than you think. Check out our lodging options ranging from vacation rentals to hotels, resorts, and more; you’ll find the perfect stay for your style. Check out our Trip Planner and download our new 2023 Visitors Guide to inspire your spring getaway.
Header Image Courtesy of @oldman1707