NANTAHALA NATIONAL FOREST
Located south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in the southwest corner of the state, Nanta-hala is the largest of North Carolina’s four National Forests. It’s an area of fine southern Appalachian mountain scenery.
There are some bald mountains with grassy meadows and great views. Also in the region are
2,000-foot deep Nantahala Gorge, some large lakes, and several major rivers, including part of the Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River.
, Among numerous waterfalls here is 411-foot Whitewater Falls, said to be the highest in the East, along with 250-foot Cullasaja Falls. Of special interest as well is 3,800-acre Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, an area of old-growth trees.
Forests are of spruce and fir as well as hardwoods, plus rhododendron, dogwood, and mountain laurel. Wildlife includes black bear, deer, wild boar, and fox.
This National Forest has three designated wilderness areas: the 13,130-acre Joyce Kilmer/Slick-rock Wilderness, the 12,080-acre Southern Nanta-hala Wilderness, and over 3,000 acres of the Ellicott Rock Wilderness, which extends into South Carolina.
Activities: More than 450 miles of trails are available for backpacking and hiking. Included are nearly 90 miles of the Appalachian Trail and 81 miles of the Bartram Trail (see entry page 225], plus the 25-mile Rim Trail. Difficulty varies from easy to very strenuous.
Among trails which are designated for horseback riding is the 17-mile Tsali Horse Trail. Canoeing, kayaking, and rafting are possible on several of Nantahala’s rivers. Fishing is also available, and hunting is permitted in season.
Camping Regulations: Camping and campfires are allowed throughout the National Forest, except near public use areas or where otherwise prohibited. No permits are necessary. It’s suggested that campsites be located at least 100 feet from trails and water sources.
For Further Information: Nantahala National Forest, 100 Otis Street, P.O. Box 2750, Asheville, NC 28802; (704)257-4200.