Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has 1,073 miles of fish-bearing streams and another 1,827 miles of tributaries for a total of 2,900 miles of streams!
Yet another of the many great activities awaiting you when you plan your next trip to Jackson County and the North Carolina Mountains is a wide range of Great Smoky Mountain hiking opportunities. The area features elevation changes that range for 2,000 to 6,000 feet. The mountain hiking trails offer mountain scenery, wildflowers (download our Wildflower Blooming Calendar), and wildlife viewing for hikers of all experience levels.
Jackson County has over fifty well-maintained mountain hiking trails, including 675 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone. The famous Appalachian Trail, running 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, makes its pass through the North Carolina Mountains just north of the county. There are various guide services that are available for both day hikes and overnight pack trips in the area.
Click Here for Our Hiking and Waterfall Map
Cyclists find a wide array of challenges in and around Jackson County, including single-track trails, back roads, and trails in the Nantahala National Forest.
The Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Tsali Trail System is one of the nation’s finest, while Panthertown Wilderness Area and the Roy A. Taylor ATV Trail System also offer riding opportunities.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is off-season favorite for road bikers, but isn’t recommended in the summer and fall because of heavy motor traffic.
Rafting & Watersports:
Swimming, sailing, water skiing, boating, tubing, whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing are all available in Jackson County. There are four whitewater rivers, the Tuckaseigee, Chattooga, Oconaluftee and the near by Nantahala, with difficulty ranging from Class I to Class VI.
Commercial companies rent rafts, canoes, kayaks and tubes. Canoes and boat rentals are available on Lake Glenville, near Cashiers. There are also several smaller, more remote lakes in the county, all of which have boat access. We have a great list of rafting companies in our directory!
Horseback riding is a popular pastime with children as well as adults. There are several stables in Jackson County offering guided trips.
Blue Ridge Parkway:
Jackson County is home to the final stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway – more than 40 miles of uncrowded scenic beauty. Gaze in wonderment as you enter the county amidst 6,000-foot peaks of the Balsam Mountains, and make sure to stop at the Richland Balsam overlook. With an elevation of 6,053 feet, it is the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Excellent hiking is found all along our Jackson County stretch of the Parkway. One must-see hike begins at milepost 431 – a 1.5-mile loop to the 6,410-foot summit of Richland Balsam, among the loftiest mountains east of the Mississippi. Other noteworthy hikes originating from the Parkway include: a short, easy hike to a mile-high meadow at Wet Camp Gap (milepost 427), and a 2.4-mile (roundtrip) fairly steep hike to the 6,292-foot peak of Waterrock Knob (milepost 450). Waterrock Knob provides extraordinary views of the Great Smoky Mountains.
As America’s Favorite Drive pushes toward its terminus in the northern part of Jackson County, motorists and cyclists soak in the undisturbed beauty of the Great Smokies. Here, along this particulary peaceful stretch, the Parkway parallels the Mountains to Sea Trail, one of the great hiking initiatives in North Carolina.
The Parkway reaches its 469th (and last) milepost at the Great Smoky Mountains Visitors Center and Mountain Farm Museum, just outside Cherokee.
For more info on things to see and do along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Jackson County, call the visitors center at (800) 962-1911.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
Whether you delight in the challenge of a strenuous hike to the crest of a mountain or prefer to sit quietly and watch the sun set, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a myriad of activities for you to enjoy. The hardest part may be choosing which auto tour, trail, waterfall, overlook, or historic area to explore!
Auto Touring – An auto tour of the park offers a chance to see panoramic vistas, rushing mountain streams, weathered historic buildings, and majestic forests stretching to the horizon. Inexpensive booklets are available to serve as your personal tour guides along many park roads.
Bicycling – Ride through Cades Cove on a misty summer morning for a truly memorable way to experience the park.
Camping – Escape into the Smokies wilderness for a backpacking adventure or opt for a tamer excursion in one of the park’s developed campgrounds.
Fishing – Anglers can match their skills against wily brook, brown, and rainbow trout on over 700 miles of fishable streams in the park.
Hiking – Choose from over 800 miles of trails ranging from quiet walkways to multi-day backpacking treks through the backcountry.
Historic Buildings – The park has one of the best collections of log buildings in the eastern United States. Nearly 80 historic structures—homes, barns, churches, schools, and grist mills—have been preserved in the park.
Horseback Riding – The park has hundreds of miles of horse trails and five drive-in horse camps. If you don’t own a horse, four rental stables provide mounts and guides.
Picnicking – Craving hotdogs, potato salad, water melon… and ants? There are eleven picnic areas to choose from in the park—many have pavilions that can be reserved in advance.
Waterfalls – Waterfalls can be found on nearly every river and stream in the park. Here’s your guide to some of the best.
Wildflowers – Great Smoky Mountains National park is known as the “wildflower national park.” You can find blooming plants year-round here, but spring and summer are renown for spectacular displays of wildflowers along roads and trails.
Wildlife Viewing – Hoping to see an elk, white-tailed deer, or black bear? Read some tips to improve your chances of spotting animals during your visit to the park.
For more information, visit The Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s Website!