Nantahala National Forest

Nantahala River
Nantahala River (Bill Russ/North Carolina Tourism)

The Chattooga and Horsepasture Rivers are very scenic and rugged. Canoeing is not permitted on either river within the Highlands Ranger district, but the Chattooga River where it flows along the South Carolina/Georgia State line is a very popular rafting and canoeing river. Hiking trails access portions of both rivers, and five beautiful waterfalls characterize the wild and scenic Horsepasture River. The falls are accessible off U.S. Highway 64, one mile east of Sapphire.

Nantahala River Gorge, a nine-mile stretch of the Nantahala River that runs from Beechertown to Fontana Lake, is nationally known as a world-class whitewater river. Continuous rapids and moderately high water flow during the summer provide a challenging whitewater sport. Commercial outfitters offer guided trips for the inexperienced rafter. Periodic releases of water by the Nantahala Power and Light Company produce the racing water needed for rafting or paddling on the river. Whitewater slalom races are held on the river every winter and spring (February, March, and April). Situated along U.S. Highway 19, businesses in the area offer a variety of services that include outfitting and guiding, boat rentals, instruction and clinics, restaurants, and overnight accommodations.

Whitewater Falls drops more than 400 feet in a spectacular series of cascades. Located on NC Hwy. 1149, nine miles south of Sapphire. Parking and toilet facilities are available.

Glen Falls Scenic Area features a scenic 50-foot waterfall where the river drops over a sharp ledge. The view of Blue Valley from this area is a significant attraction. A short trail from the parking area leads to the falls. Located two miles south of Highlands on NC Hwy. 106.

Dry Falls on the Cullasaja River is so named because you can walk under the falls without getting wet. The river plunges over a rock shelf so visitors can safely walk behind the torrent of falling water. Parking available. A paved trail with safety fences leads to the falls from the parking area. Located on US Hwy. 64, three miles west of Highlands.

The Cullasaja Falls are located within the Cullasaja Gorge on the Callasaja River.


Standing Indian's Kimsey and Park Creeks: Take U.S. 64 west from Franklin for nine miles, turn left on old U.S. 64, and follow the signs.
Upper Nantahala River: Just above the powerhouse on NC 1310
Chattooga River: Take NC 1603 south out of Highlands for about four miles, turn west on Forest Road (FR) 1178, or turn west on NC 1100 about five miles south of Cashiers.

Bass, Sunfish, Walleye, and Catfish
Lake Chatuge: Take NC 69 or NC 175 off U.S. 64 in the vicinity of Hayesville.
Fontana Lake: Take NC 28 east off its junction with U.S. 19 about eight miles from Bryson City.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 11 Oct 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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