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With 531,270 acres in Macon, Graham, Cherokee, Jackson, Clay, and Swain counties, Nantahala National Forest is the largest of North Carolina's four national forests. The park features many western North Carolina waterfalls and the final stretch of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway winds it's way through this forest. The word "Nantahala" is a Cherokee word that translates to "Land of the Noonday Sun. Three Wilderness areas are located within the Nantahala National Forest. Ellicott Rock Wilderness is located near Highlands, North Carolina, the Southern Nantahala Wilderness is in the Tusquitee and Nantahala Ranger District, and there is also the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. The Nantahala Ranger District includes attractions such as Standing Indian Mountain, the Nantahala Gorge and Wayah Bald. The Nantahala National Forest offers easy access to a wide variety of recreation options. While it is well known for it's hiking and mountain biking, it also has great trout fishing in the Nantahala River. There are also great opportunities for off road driving. The most famous off road driving area is the Tellico OHV area in the Tusquitee Ranger District, and there is also an OHV area in the Nantahala Ranger District.

Great hike and great waterfall. My husband and I went in December with 40* weather, we wore proper attire and the hike was doable. It also provided a quick work out and moderate 1 mile loop. Trail is clearly marked. The waterfall was beautiful and some aspects were frozen, which was neat to see.

This is a great hike with an excellent reward at the top. Moderate, quick hike for such a beautiful view. We went counter-clockwise which was probably a little tougher with steeper climbs but that’s the way we like it.

So I would say this hike is about 3 miles from the start, where the directions via this app take you, to Wayah bald lookout tower. Took me an hour and a half to get to the tower. Started the hike at 10:45 AM, was back at my car by 2:30 PM, and I snacked and took pictures at the tower of course. A nice moderate hike for sure, no need to overload your pack for this one but you'll want some snacks and water.

gorgeous hike!!! a most see

I love this hike. very scenic And moderate hiking conditions.

hiking
10 days ago

great short hike with amazing view at the end of the hike.

hiking
10 days ago

beautiful hike!!! numerous great photo ops and such a great hike!!

hiking
10 days ago

I love this trail. it's short but you get 2 waterfalls on the way. totally worth the trip and hike.

excellent short trail

Great hike with the Scouts backpacking. Steep inclines and lots of wet leaves making footing a little tricky in places but the views are worth it.

Awesome. The thick fog moving through the forest and the sound of raindrops, were beautiful. Can’t wait to get back there and do it again when the weather is cleared up.

Great hike! Very well marked and like others have said, it takes just as long to get back to the trailhead. If you take this trail on then plan on a 5 to 6 hour day, and that's going at a pretty decent pace.

hiking
15 days ago

Short hike, not too strenuous. Brought the dogs too, they enjoyed the walk. Definitely recommend.

hiking
15 days ago

this was an excellent hike with a great view of the waterfall.

FTH. Worst hike of my entire life. Trails were not marked, a full quarter of the loop was so overgrown it was impassible - COMPLETELY IMPASSIBLE. Like having a brick lodged in your colon, impassible. We had bad rain last night, and most of the river crossings were completely washed out - my dog almost got washed down the river! For the humans, it wasn’t too bad as long as you were committed to being soaked to the knees the entire day in 30 degree weather.

It took us 12 miles to finish this 5.9 miles of trail, not counting the times we had to double back because we lost the trail or because it was impassible — see brick reference, above. Good thing we started early in the morning, or we would still be on this god-forsaken path. 80% of the existing trail was mud up to your calf, the other remaining 20% was not even a trail, or was impassible (see brick reference above). Last corner of the loop is basically a tumble down a mountain in a washed out river bed of slippery leaves and roots, pushing through dense overgrowth. WITH NO TRAIL MARKERS.

We did this with GPS, a map, and a good signal. If you don’t have those, GOOD LUCK. But you will do all this for the incredible views! PSYCH. No luck there either - the best view actually occurs 15 minutes into the hike. The rest is such dense overgrowth you feel like you are in a first player sim of Arnold in Predator.

Just turn yourself around and spare yourself the indignity. SERIOUSLY, FTH. Seriously. I have watched more rewarding infomercials.

Going to go soak my frozen feet and try to forget about this miserable experience.

hiking
16 days ago

Not a hard hike at all. It’s definitely quite trafficked with the many highlands visitors including large groups of family. Very pretty falls. We enjoyed it!!

hiking
16 days ago

Quick hike, nice views!

hiking
16 days ago

Great hike! Fantastic views from the top!

The trail is marked with a bold white stripe. The entrance could be found at the end of the picnic area near to a lookout. We walked the trail with our dog and we found enough water sources. The trail offers not so many lookouts as expected, most the times we walked though forest. BUT: You are more or less lonely and it is a “real” hike trail for someone used to the Italian alps. So: Thumbs up and definitely recommendable for a good workout.

It’s was absolutely beautiful! The trail is well marked and well kept. The top was a little chilly, but was still absolutely breath taking.

Muddy trail but real nice views

Pleasant trail with great views. Clockwise was great!

hiking
17 days ago

Very steep hike!! Four and a half hour hike. Water falls all on the way. Water fall is average not anything crazy so if your tired and already see cool waterfalls I’d recommend turning around because it’s just going to get steeper and steeper. Good luck!

great hike, tiring by the end. Trail was pretty clearly marked. I went on a Sunday with perfect fall weather and there were only two other groups I saw the whole way.

hiking
20 days ago

Incredible hike with a gorgeous view. This trail will separate the casual hikers from the more serious enthusiasts in my opinion. The map at the trail head of Cole Gap stated that is was only 5 miles to the fire tower..... I don’t have a fit bit or a Garmin watch but this trail felt way longer than 10 miles RT. I hiked at an aggressive pace and it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach the tower. It was worth the burn to get there.... and it felt like a long hike as others have stated. There were definitely many sections of downhill and traversing to let your legs rest, so the return hike was just as tough. Getting back took some reserve energy, and the return hike took me close to the same amount of time as it did to arrive. Pack some water and a few snack bars and get after it!! Highly recommended!

We camped near a waterfall and hiked to other falls, nice area with several trails

Nice! Usually a crowd in warmer months.

Nice little trail. From the map it looks like you hike on the road but you don’t thankfully. It’s on the ridge right above the road.

Super easy hike, really short. There are some giant trees just off the trail that are really neat!

Nice short hike, beautiful scenery!

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