National Parks & Forests
We added this page in response to the following guest feedback, “You are so close to the Smoky Mountains and an easy drive, that I recommend to also add some info about it as well including a link to the national park site for hiking, horseback riding, more waterfalls, etc as well as info on the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway drive for those that want to explore. We found your location an easy drive to the national park and a clear winner as a mid-point between all types of things to do.”
This map provides a great visual of the area’s national parks and forests with points of interest highlighted for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in particular.
Dupont State Forest
Noted for being the main filming location for the Hunger Games, the DuPont State Forest is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains between Hendersonville and Brevard, North Carolina. Its 10,400 acres of forest feature four major waterfalls on the Little River and several on the Grassy Creek. For key attractions and additional information, visit the Dupont State Forest website.
Blue Ridge Parkway
This is America’s most visited National Park unit and there’s plenty to see and do, including hiking, picknicking, waterfalls and scenic overlooks. Its 469 miles connect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Check out the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Travel Planner for places to pause along the highway as well as information on the Blue Ridge Mountains and its musical traditions. You may also wish to download the Travel Planner Mobile App. Finally, be sure to add the Visitor’s Center to your list of places to pause on the Parkway.
Pisgah National Forest (PNF)
Established in 1916, PNF was one of the first national forests in the eastern United States. With elevations reaching over 6,000 feet, it also has some of the highest mountains in the eastern United States. The Forest offers hiking trails, fishing, camping, picnic sites, and spectacular waterfalls. Some of PNF’s attractions include Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, Pisgah Forest State Fish Hatchery, Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, The Cradle of Forestry and the North Mills River Recreational Area. The USDA’s Forest Service site includes information on activities. Scroll down and click on the plus signs alongside each activity of interest to decide on a location of interest.
Nantahala National Forest (NNF)
Adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains, NNF was established in 1920 and is the largest of NC’s national forests with a half-million acres of pristine woodlands, spectacular waterfalls and over 600 + miles of trails. Nantahala is a Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun”. The forest’s highest point is the Appalachian summit of Lone Bald at 5800 feet. The Nantahala River offers excellent rafting, canoeing, and kayaking and is one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the country. Three picturesque reservoirs are nestled among the mountains in the Nantahala National Forest, offering boating, water-skiing, fishing, swimming, and camping. Click on the image to visit one of two websites to learn more. The second is the USDA’s Forest Service information on NNF. Scroll down and click on the plus signs alongside each activity of interest to see where to head to.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Established in 1934, this park has endless ridges of forest that border North Carolina and Tennessee. World renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal life and the beauty of its mountains, it is not surprisingly the most visited national park in the U.S. With over 800 miles of maintained trails, nearly 80 historic buildings, spectacular displays of wildflowers and a wide variety of animals including approximately 1,500 bears, the park offers something for everyone. From this excellent website, you can check out things to do, download maps of the park and a handy trip planner which includes favorite destinations and popular activities such as hiking, picknicking, auto touring, bicycling, fishing, horseback riding, visiting waterfalls and historic destinations as well as events under the guidance of a park ranger. Also consider downloading one of these mobile apps to take with you.