Canoeing is a favorite activity on Fairfield Lake, between Sapphire and Cashiers.
All that said, there is much natural beauty to see, especially for those willing to depart the main drag. The first must-see is Toxaway Falls. You’ll know you’re there when the road crosses over the top of the waterfall. A walkway lets you safely look over the falls and the huge expanse of bare rock. Behind you is the Lake Toxaway Dam. In 1916, the dam burst, sending the lake water over the falls. The raging torrent scoured the riverbank for miles downstream, leaving nothing but bedrock.
The small town of Cashiers is an appealing stop for lunch or shopping. The town sits on a high plateau from which four major rivers spring: the Whitewater, the Horsepasture, the West Fork Tuckasegee, and the Chattooga of Deliverance fame. The main thing you need to know about this place is how to pronounce its name. If you say Cash-IERS, like someone who takes your money, everyone will know you ain’t from around here. If you say CASH-ers, blurring the distinction between the syllables, you’ll fit in just fine.
Whiteside Mountain lies about halfway between Cashiers and Highlands. The 4,903-foot summit stands some 2,000 feet above the valley floor, with sheer rock walls rising over 700 feet high. A National Recreation Trail follows the crest of the mountain, providing outstanding views.
At 4,118 feet, Highlands touted itself as the highest town in the East until the Watauga County community of Beech Mountain, at 5,506 feet, was incorporated. Highlands has long held a reputation as a popular resort area having many cozy inns, quaint shops, and fine restaurants. The wintertime population of three thousand people swells to over twenty thousand during the summer. Nantahala National Forest surrounds the town, providing numerous opportunities for hiking, fishing, photography, and waterfall watching. Stop at the Forest Service information center in downtown for maps and guidebooks.
The famous bear shadow appears only for a few weeks in October and February. It is visible from the Rhodes Big View Overlook on U.S. Highway 64 between Cashiers and