Nantahala National Forest Overview

Travel Tips
Nantahala National Forest
Nantahala National Forest (Gordon Wiltsie/National Geographic/Getty)
Nantahala National Forest
Contact Details
National Forests in North Carolina
Nantahala National Forest
160A Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28802
Phone: 828-257-4266

  • Paddle the Nantahala River (the "Nanty," as locals call it) for a nine-mile stretch of Class II–III whitewater that sluices through the scenic Nantahala River Gorge. The Nantahala Outdoor Center, headquartered in Bryson City, offers a variety of river trips suitable for first-timers and experienced rafters alike. Paddling is also available on the Nolichucky, Chattooga, French Broad, and Ocoee rivers.
  • Hike the figure-eight Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail, a two-mile tour through one of the largest old-growth stands in the eastern United States. Here, 400-year-old virgin hemlock and yellow poplars tower above a carpet of wildflowers and ferns. Hundreds of miles of other trails wind through the forest, some of which are multiuse paths for bikers and horses. The Snowbird Backcountry Area provides 37 miles of trails reserved exclusively for hikers.
  • Find fat-tire nirvana at the Tsali Recreation Area near Almond, just off NC 28. Several loops provide up to 40 miles of challenging trails rated "more difficult"—but even if you’re new to the sport, you'll find a variety of low-impact routes winding through the forest. The Left Loop, a 12-mile trail along the edge of Lake Fontana, was rated as one of the ten best rides in America by Bicycling magazine.
  • At Lake Chatuge and Fontana Lake, you can reel in sunfish, walleye, catfish, and big, beefy bass. If it's trout you're after, try the Chattooga River, the Upper Nantahala River, Kimsey Creek, and Park Creek in the Standing Indian Basin.
  • The Mountain Waters Scenic Byway is a 61-mile drive that snakes its way through the southern Appalachians' hardwood forest and two river gorges. At Bridal Veil Falls, the road allows you to drive under a 120-foot waterfall.

By Travel Expert: Alistair Wearmouth

Published: 22 Oct 2008 | Last Updated: 23 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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