Hiking in the North Carolina Great Smoky Mountains of Jackson County
Yet another of the many great activities awaiting you when you plan your next trip to Jackson County and the North Carolina Mountains is a wide range of Great Smoky Mountain hiking opportunities. The area features elevation changes that range for 2,000 to 6,000 feet. The mountain hiking trails offer mountain scenery, wildflowers (download our Wildflower Blooming Calendar), and wildlife viewing for hikers of all experience levels.
Jackson County has over fifty well-maintained mountain hiking trails, including 675 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone. The famous Appalachian Trail, running 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, makes its pass through the North Carolina Mountains just north of the county. There are various guide services that are available for both day hikes and overnight pack trips in the area.
To view or download the hiking trail and waterfall map click here
Cyclists find a wide array of challenges in and around Jackson County, including single-track trails, back roads, and trails in the Nantahala National Forest.
The Nantahala Outdoor Center's Tsali Trail System is one of the nation's finest, while Panthertown Wilderness Area and the Roy A. Taylor ATV Trail System also offer riding opportunities.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is off-season favorite for road bikers, but isn't recommended in the summer and fall because of heavy motor traffic.
Golf in The NC Great Smoky Mountains of Jackson County
Jackson County offers a superb selection of classic mountain golf courses that are both challenging and scenic. Our daily fee and semi-private layouts host thousands of golfers each year.
From Cashiers’ world-renowned resorts and courses in the south to the picturesque Sequoyah National Golf Club in the county’s north end, the area is replete with one-of-a-kind mountain golf in a variety of awe-inspiring settings.
Check out our list of golf and tennis clubs in Jackson County!
Rafting & Watersports:
Swimming, sailing, water skiing, boating, tubing, whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing are all available in Jackson County. There are four whitewater rivers, the Tuckaseigee, Chattooga, Oconaluftee and the near by Nantahala, with difficulty ranging from Class I to Class VI.
Commercial companies rent rafts, canoes, kayaks and tubes. Canoes and boat rentals are available on Lake Glenville, near Cashiers. There are also several smaller, more remote lakes in the county, all of which have boat access. We have a great list of rafting companies in our directory!
Horseback riding is a popular pastime with children as well as adults. There are several stables in Jackson County offering guided trips.
Skiing and Snowboarding and Ziplining
Our winters are generally mild, but snow is not unusual, particularly in the higher elevations around Cashiers, Sapphire Valley and Balsam. At the Sapphire Valley Ski Area, snowmaking machines help maintain prime skiing conditions from mid-December through February. The ski area offers four slopes, a vertical drop of 425 feet, a chair lift, and a surface lift. Throughout the year, Sapphire Valley Resort offers a zipline canopy tour as well.
Skiing locations in northern Jackson County are within reasonable driving distance of Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed during any kind of winter weather, and is popular with cross country skiiers during those times.
Weddings are always a special experience, but are quite unique and unforgettable amidst the backdrop of these beautiful mountains.