As people begin to travel again — albeit closer to home and likely via car versus plane — they’re looking for nearby destinations that offer plenty of opportunities to safely explore away from crowds. And that’s where the great outdoors come into play. As we head into fall, weather lends itself perfectly to outdoor activities, and one of the South’s most beautiful outdoor adventure destinations is Jackson County, NC, which includes the towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro and Sylva.
If you’re looking to get in one last trip before hunkering down for winter, put a visit to this stunning Southern region on your calendar. With 494 square miles of wide-open spaces and more named summits than anywhere else in the state, Jackson County is the perfect travel destination — now more than ever. Here’s your itinerary to enjoy all of the outdoor activities Jackson County has to offer!
How to Spend a Weekend in Jackson County, NC
Throughout Jackson County, hikers of all skill levels will find a variety of trails to enjoy. Take a leisurely stroll to take in the views, or tackle an exercise challenge that will get the blood pumping. Here, you will find miles of hiking trails geared to fit all skill levels. With wildlife, waterfalls, and outstanding views, the trails of Jackson County will reward you at every turn.
Fly fishing is notoriously a solo or distanced activity. In fact, those fishing are required to remain approximately 75 feet apart in order to cast. What you may not know, though, is Jackson County is home to the country’s first and only fly fishing trail, the WNC Fly Fishing Trail®, and the area is known for its miles of clear, clean and fully stocked waters (92,800 fish stocked annually!).
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Whether you’re a seasoned fly fisherman or you’re new to the sport, all can agree that the tranquility of fly fishing is what draws many to the sport. And because the area is home to many great fly fishing spots, there are plenty of local outfitters that can get you equipped to start casting. If you prefer to fish for largemouth bass, check out the lakes in and around Jackson County instead.
If you’re searching for a mental break, consider Shinrin-Yoku, the ancient Japanese art of forest meditation. Designed to help you reap the relaxing health benefits of being outdoors while also becoming self-aware, the practice nurtures sensory awareness and a deeper connection with the natural environment. Offered by Dr. Mark Ellison through Pinnacle Forest Therapy, participants can enjoy a three-hour walk as they learn breathing techniques that nurture a feeling of being at one with nature.
GET OUT ON THE WATER
Lakes, rivers, waterfalls … Jackson County has them all. Before the season changes and temps drop for good, enjoy a water adventure as you kayak or raft the more than 50 miles of the Tuckasegee River. Or paddleboard, rent a boat or simply explore the 26 miles of shoreline along Lake Glenville. There are more than two dozen waterfalls in the area ranging from cascading falls to gentle flows, all of which make for one-of-a-kind photo opportunities and unique ways to cool down.
The small towns of Jackson County offer a convenient location and an affordable escape. Book a stay at any of the area’s hotels or cabins, and get out and explore this one-of-a-kind part of the country!
Find more great Southern escapes in our travel section, and then start planning your next getaway!