Nantahala National Forest

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Nantahala National Forest


Mountains surpassing 5000 feet, cascading waterfalls, towering hardwood forests and whitewater foaming over the backs of boulders--these are the sights awaiting you in the Nantahala National Forest. Enjoy the panoramic views from Whiteside Mountain or Wayah Bald. A 2-mile loop trail to the top of the Whiteside cliffs, provides a spectacular view. Wayah Bald is especially beautiful in June when the azaleas and laurel bloom. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, with it's 400-year old trees, is another breathtaking sight, as is Whitewater Falls - the highest falls east of the Rocky Mountains.

Water in the mountains comes deep and wide, or fast and "on the rocks". The Nantahala National Forest is blessed by numerous lakes, plus hundreds of miles of rivers and streams, including two nationally recognized wild and scenic rivers.

Santeelah, and Fontana are large, popular lakes for boating, water skiing, and fishing. Recreation areas, beside the lakes, provide camping, picnicking, and boat ramps.

In the Tusquitee District, three reservoirs in beautiful mountain settings provide a playground for recreation enthusiasts. Hiwassee Lake, Chatuge Lake, and Appalachia Lake offer boating, water skiing, fishing, and swimming, as well as a quiet place to relax and enjoy nature’s wonders. Chatuge Lake is excellent for sailing and also has a swimming beach at Jackrabbit recreation area. The Hiwassee and Apalachia Lakes are located west of Murphy, along the Hiwassee River. Chatuge Lake spans the Georgia-North Carolina State line, south of Hayesville.

Swimming is also available at Cliffside Lake in the Highlands District. It is a small lake with a picnic area and campground nearby.

A trip down one of the whitewater rivers of western North Carolina is bound to be a wet, wild experience. Whether you're an experienced paddlers or a novice, there's an adventure waiting for you. Commercial river outfitters cam help plan a trip to fit your skill level and provide any equipment you might need.

The Nantahala River is one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the country, drawing over 250,000 boaters every year. With the river right beside US 19, south of Bryson City, the Nantahala provides a whitewater experience that's fun to watch, as well as to do. An overlook and walkway gives spectators a thrilling view of boaters running the final series of rapids and a small waterfall before the take-out point.

Golden Age and Golden Access Passports
Golden Age Passports are available for National Forest visitors over 62 years of age. Golden Access Passports are available to "persons who are blind or permanently disabled." Both Passports provide 50 percent discount on campground use fees. There is a $10 "processing fee" for the Golden Age Passport. The Passports may be obtained from Forest Service offices, National Parks and Monuments and federal information centers. Given the economic condition of the country and mood of the Congress, availability and fee structure of these passports may change. Check with the sources referenced above for latest information.


On July 9, 1936 the Forest Service was reorganized to follow state boundaries and what was originally incorporated into the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests was reorganized and the Chattahoochee National Forest was proclaimed as a separate National Forest to be headquartered in Gainesville, Georgia.