Paddling and Pedaling

Western North Carolina, Southern Appalachians
Just the Facts

Best time of year: Both the paddling and pedaling seasons are long in this temperate climate. Biking is chilly, but possible, even in midwinter. The paddling is in full swing by April and extends into October.

Access: From I-40, to the north, via Highway 74 or Highway 129; from I-75, to the west, via Highway 74.

Hazards: Challenging whitewater, remoteness, strenuous terrain.

Information: Nantahala National Forest , Cheoah Ranger District;
Great Smokies National Park ;
North Carolina Travel ;
Nantahala Outdoor Center


North Carolina may not be the first place that springs to mind at the mention of adventure travel, but if it's whitewater paddling and a seemingly endless web of biking trails that you're after, the Nantahala country is the epicenter of one of the premier locations in North America.

First, consider the water. Rivers like the Nantahala, the French Broad, the Ocoee, the Nolichucky, and the Chattooga, each of which dish up plenty of thrill per mile, along with gorgeous scenery and some moderate stretches, are all in easy reach.

Then, take a gander at the bike terrain. Between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Nantahala National Forest, nearly 1 million acres of public lands lie nearby, with hundreds of miles of accessible trail and road. Lung-busting ascents of 5,000-foot peaks, quiet jaunts along the Tsali Trails and Lake Fontana, and several gravel and paved roads that wind through the Great Smokies, grant more scenery, more variety, and more unabated fun in a concentrated area than anywhere else I can think of.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 21 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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