Nantahala National Forest
Whiteside is located between Highlands and Cashiers off U.S. Highway 64. Whiteside Mountain stands as a landmark along the eastern continental divide. It rises more than 2,100 feet from the valley floor to the summit at 4,930 feet. The south face contains magnificent sheer cliffs ranging from 400 feet to 750 feet high. A two-mile loop trail takes hikers along the ridge of the mountain and provides spectacular views to the east, south, and west. Caution is advised with small children and pets.
Beech Creek Seed Orchard supplies the southern Appalachian forests with improved tree seed for reforestation. These genetically improved seeds of white, shortleaf, and Virginia pine provide foresters with an opportunity to grow more and better wood on our National Forests. The orchard has extensive hardwood clone banks of black cherry, oak, and yellow-poplar. The orchard is located west of Murphy off Forest Road 307. Joyce Kilmer Memorial is one of the nation's most impressive remnants of old-growth forest. It contains magnificent examples of more than 100 species of trees, many over 300 years old, and some over 20 feet in circumference and 100 feet high. This 3,800-acre area was set aside in 1936 as a memorial to Joyce Kilmer, the soldier/poet and author of the poem "Trees," who was killed in action in France during World War I. This forest has been maintained in its primitive state. The Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail provides a short walk to view some of these splendid old trees and the Joyce Kilmer Memorial.
Coweeta Experimental Forest was established in 1934, Coweeta is a unit of the Forest Service's Southeastern Experiment Station. In cooperation with scientists throughout the nation, it helps determine the effects of human use on forest growth and ecology. Visitors can drive through the experimental forest for most of the year to see forest management practices in silviculture, hydrology, and engineering. A self-guiding brochure is available at the station office. Office hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The office is located on U.S. Highway 441, south of Franklin, North Carolina.
Mountain Waters National Scenic Byway is a 61.3-mile drive that winds through southern Appalachian hardwood forest, two spectacular river gorges, and rural countryside. Traveling from Highlands to Almond, the route follows U.S. 64, old U.S. 64, N.C. 1310, and U.S. 19 through Nantahala National Forest. For the first 7.5 miles, the byway travels through picturesque Cullasaja Gorge. The winding road parallels the river's most rugged course and offers scenic views of the river and its waterfalls. If you take the short spur road under Bridal Veil Falls, your car can get a natural car wash. The Nantahala is another river gorge that borders the byway. The Nantahala is a mecca for whitewater sports enthusiasts.
The Cradle of Forestry is an experience for the entire family to enjoy. Nestled beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the Pisgah National Forest, this unique historic site allows you to explore the roots and branches of American forestry. You can see the rustic campus of the first forestry school, walk a forested trail to an old logging locomotive, and learn about the forest ecosystem and its management at the Forest Discovery Center.
Your visit begins in the Forest Discovery Center, where Cradle employees are ready to help you make the most of your time. An 18-minute film tells you the Cradle story and is the best introduction to your visit. Hands-on exhibits hold something of interest for all ages. Exciting new exhibits will be installed during 1996. Have fun learning about the forest around you while you wait for a guided tour.
Guided tours enhance your experience along the Cradle's two one-mile trails, though you may also explore them on your own. The Biltmore Campus Trail leads you back to the early 1900s when this area was part of a small mountain community and thriving college campus. You will see the community school and church that served as the forestry school's classroom. Explore the old store and the collection of mountain cabins, including the beautiful and intriguing Black Forest Lodge. Craftspeople recreate the era as they spin, quilt, carve, and demonstrate other traditions of mountain living in the restored cabins. Every turn of the Forest Festival Trail brings you closer to the forest and activities that occurred when forestry was a new-fangled idea. You can see a Climax logging train, an American log loader, and an old sawmill. The trail passes through reforested fields, a seedling nursery, and tree plantations.
When you return to the Forest Discovery Center, you may want to visit the Cradle's gift shop, which offers books on natural history and outdoor recreation, as well as maps, tee-shirts, and handmade items. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase in the cafe.
Each month the Cradle of Forestry celebrates a different special event, from an Appalachian Spring Wildflower Celebration in May to Forest Festival Day in October. Learning is made fun through scheduled activities.
The Cradle is open from May through October, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission is free for all visitors on Tuesdays. For more information and a schedule of special events, please call 704-877-3130 or write to Cradle of Forestry, 1001 Pisgah Hwy., Pisgah Forest, NC 28768.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication