CASHIERS, NC – The mountains in winter are a treat for the senses. They give us a reset and strengthen our state of mind. And in Cashiers, you don’t have to look far to find exactly what will relieve the pressures and bustle of life at home. Consider a massage with views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains; cast a line in one of the many streams; hear the thunder of whitewater waterfalls in the Nantahala National Forest; or hike to the top of Whiteside Mountain to enjoy the views and fresh mountain air.
Cashiers has been a vacation destination and getaway for more than a century, largely because of its cool summer temperatures. Given its higher elevation on the plateau – more than 3,400 feet above sea level – temperatures are often 10 to 20 degrees cooler than most major cities in the southeast.
There really isn’t a bad time to visit the cashiers’ area, says Nick Breedlove, executive director of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority.
Cashiers, North Carolina is an idyllic winter getaway
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The mild spring weather brings beautiful daffodil blooms along the city hallway and heavy groves of blooming rhododendrons along the highways. Autumn heralds the change of colors that dot the mountainsides. And in winter, the temperatures are often mild enough to visit one of the more than 20 courses in the Cashiers region. Also, during the winter there are fewer visitors, so you may find yourself alone in the great wilderness. How’s that for a change in your mindset?
WET A LINE
Mountain water is much colder and less suitable for swimming, but this cold water makes winter fly fishing better than other times of the year. When the water is cold, the oxygen level increases and, in turn, the fish are more active. So the equation is obvious: winter + cold water + active fish = good fishing.
You’ll want to follow the Flyfishing Trail for the best places to cast a line. The 15 stops along the trail are scenic and swim with trout – rainbow, brown, brook. Some streams and rivers are supplied by local hatcheries, such as Tuckasegee and Scott Creek; others are wild and wonderful:
– Raven Fork starts along Blue Ridge Parkway – in the winter, be sure to check ahead to make sure the parkway is open – and goes north for over 2 miles. This stretch is known as Cherokee Trophy Water, where fish as long as 20 to 30 inches are common. Permits are required.
— Panthertown Creek flows approximately 3 miles through the Panthertown Valley, an area known as the “Yosemite of the East” due to its bowl-like shape and rocky cliffs. One of the county’s most scenic areas, it’s also great for hiking trails along old logging roads. The valley is also home to many waterfalls, including the popular Schoolhouse and Frolictown Falls.
— Wild rainbow trout and brown trout swim in the waters of Scotsman and Fowler creeks, each about 3 miles long. Both creeks flow into the Chattooga River, where the movie “Deliverance” was filmed.
– The Tuckasegee has several good stretches of trout-laden water, but it’s the 4 miles between the bridge over Hwy 107 and Dillsboro Park where anglers can claim the title of the Tuckasegee Slam – catching all three species of trout in one only place.
In 2016, Jackson County was named by state and local authorities as North Carolina’s premier fishing destination. For a complete list of guide services, maps, and other information, visit FlyFishingTrail.com or NCTroutCapital.com.
GO FOR A WALK
Hike Whiteside Mountain, explore Panthertown Valley and visit frozen waterfalls. It’s nice to have all the great outdoor assets all to yourself. And with over 185 named peaks in Jackson County alone, there are plenty of great trails to follow.
“We call it our ‘secret season’ – a time when the crowds calm down, and you have the trails all to yourself and the air is crisp, clean and fresh,” says Breedlove.
Panthertown Valley is an extensive network of trails over 30 miles in the 10,000-acre Nantahala National Forest, so hikers are well advised to take a map on their journey, and Whiteside Mountain is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts. air. This is a hike along the ridgeline of one of the oldest mountains in the world formed 360-490 million years ago when the oceans receded leaving the stunning peaks we know today as the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“The view on a clear day goes on for miles and miles,” Breedlove says.
Even the shortest of trails, like the 1.5-mile loop around Richland Balsam, the highest peak in the Balsam Mountains, offers spectacular freebies, like a walk through a spruce forest with its ancient, ghostly remains.
Another easy walk is one of the best in the county. The Whiteside Mountain Trail is a 2 mile loop along the Eastern Continental Divide up to 4,930 feet and the highest drop (750 feet) in the eastern United States. Fencing along its edge helps prevent disasters.
For the more intense nature trails, pack your gear and head out for Yellow Mountain, a 21 km hike with steep climbs to an ancient stone and wood fire tower. Your efforts to get there will be rewarded with stunning views of the valley below and the mountains beyond.
For more trails off the beaten path, visit DiscoverJacksonNC.com.
While neighboring county Transylvania is known as “waterfall country”, Jackson County boasts at least a dozen falls, including the tallest in the state, including Whitewater Falls, with an incredible plunge over 400 feet.
Access to the falls is via a wide paved path which, at its end, offers great views of the falls, but if you can, dive down a steep flight of stairs for breathtaking views. Signs at the top warn you to stay clear of falls and slippery rocks though. “People have died here,” it read.
For an even easier walk, Silver Run Falls is just 4 miles south of Cashiers and less than a quarter mile walk from Highway 107. Not as impressive as Whitewater Falls, it’s still a waterfall Impressive 25ft in a large bottom pool without the terrible warnings attached. In hot weather, this pool can get crowded.
On a winter’s day, you may have to share the waterfalls with one or two other people, but you may have them all to yourself. Just you and Mother Nature.
All major waterfalls, such as the ones mentioned above, as well as Bridal Veil Falls, Cashiers Sliding Rock, Looking Glass Falls, and Glen Falls, are marked with forest service signs along the road. For a complete list of all waterfalls and directions, visit mountainlovers.com/waterfalls.
“With the varying elevation and ruggedness of our county, some waterfalls may be harder to find than others,” notes Breedlove. “For this reason, sometimes we don’t list them all in an effort to ensure that we keep our visitors on the trail and not in the bush to some remote location that is best not to wander.”
After a full day of skiing, fishing, and hiking – or all of the above – you’ve had time to reset. Now is the time to listen to your body speak. Those muscles are crying out for a little TLC, and there are several spas in the cashier’s area that will give them the love they crave or give your skin a break from the harsh winter weather with a relaxing facial.
“Spend an hour or two at the Canyon Spa in the shadow of Cow Mountain in Lonesome Valley, and you’ll come out a new person. The spa is housed in an early 1900s gatehouse and features an original fireplace where guests can warm up around a warm fire while awaiting a facial, massage or other therapy that pamper your body with all-natural products, many of which use cultivated herbs. in the neighboring garden.
— Cashiers Spa: Located in the heart of Cashiers, Cashiers Spa helps visitors relax their body, mind and spirit with professional massage therapists. Services range from Swedish massage to Thai herbal poultice. Get a massage on site or call the spa and they will send a massage therapist to your place of stay. Online: cashiersspa.com
— Tarah’s Beauty Bar: A scenic and relaxing mountain spa that will give your skin the pampering treatment it deserves. Signature treatments include organic Hungarian facials; chemical peels rich in vitamins and antioxidants; and body/face waxing. Online: www.tbbspa.com
REST YOUR HEAD
At the end of the day, Cashiers offers a range of overnight accommodations, from its chain hotel, Hampton Inn, a Hilton property, to boutique hotels and short-term vacation rentals in places like Sapphire Valley (sapphirevalleyresorts.com), a popular ski resort with several restaurants just minutes from downtown Cashiers.
– High Hampton Resort (highhampton.com) has reopened under the management of the Bealle family, owners of the famous Blackberry Inn in Walland, Tennessee, who run the High Hampton hotel branch. The resort has long been a favorite private getaway for Southerners and continues that tradition after reopening in April 2021.
– The Wells Hotel Cashiers (thewellscashiers.com) offers rooms, suites and cabins located on 5 acres in the heart of downtown Cashiers with easy access to the town’s only brewpub, Whiteside Brewing Co.
— Hotel Cashiers (hotelcashiers.com), formerly a roadside motel, has been beautifully transformed into a mountain lodge with a wine, artisan charcuterie and cheese and gift shop, many of which are locally made.
Contact Anne Braly at [email protected] or www.annebraly.com.
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