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Best trails in Nantahala National Forest

6445 Reviews
Looking for a great trail in Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina? AllTrails has 101 great hiking trails, trail running trails, mountain biking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 53 moderate trails in Nantahala National Forest ranging from 0.8 to 19.1 miles and from 1,597 to 5,748 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
Description

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.

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Map of trails in Nantahala National Forest
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Top trails (101)
#1 - Whiteside Mountain National Recreation Trail
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(761)
Length: 1.9 mi • Est. 1 h 7 m
A landmark along the Eastern Continental Divide, Whiteside Mountain rises to an elevation of 4,930 feet. The mountain's cliffs look like sheets of ice draped across the mountain. This magnificent rockShow more
#2 - Glen Falls Trail
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(307)
Length: 2.4 mi • Est. 1 h 30 m
Glen Falls Trail is a 2.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Highlands, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity opShow more
#3 - Devil's Courthouse Trail
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(292)
Length: 0.8 mi • Est. 30 m
Devil's Courthouse and Black Balsam are two short moderate to strenuous out and back trails off North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway featuring spectacular sweeping views, wild flowers and peregrine falShow more
#4 - Dry Falls Trail
Nantahala National Forest
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(209)
Length: 0.3 mi • Est. 7 m
This trail goes behind a waterfall. You will get wet.Show more
#5 - Panthertown Backcountry Loop
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(227)
Length: 7.8 mi • Est. 3 h 46 m
Of the many trails in this area, this route provides the most bang for your buck. Deep forest hiking with waterfalls, vistas, abundant streams and ease of access. Panthertown Valley, known as the "YoShow more
#6 - Schoolhouse Falls, Little Green Mountain, Greenland Creek Falls Trails Loop
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(201)
Length: 6.3 mi • Est. 2 h 33 m
Off the beaten path trail with views and waterfalls.Show more
#7 - Upper Whitewater Falls Trail
Nantahala National Forest
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(159)
Length: 1.6 mi • Est. 1 h 1 m
Partially paved trail to an overlook and on to Whitewater River.Show more
#8 - Wesser Bald Fire Tower via Appalachian Trail
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(204)
Length: 2.2 mi • Est. 1 h 22 m
Wesser Bald Fire Tower via Appalachian Trail is a 2.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Topton, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The Show more
#9 - Bartram Trail: Wallace Branch to William's Pulpit
Nantahala National Forest
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(246)
Length: 4.1 mi • Est. 2 h 23 m
Part of Section 4 of the 100-mile N.C. Bartram Trail. The trail offers a steady climb up the ridges and peaceful forests. There are spring and summer wildflowers along the trail and a cascading waterfShow more
#10 - Nantahala Yellow Mountain Trail
Nantahala National Forest
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(239)
Length: 11.7 mi • Est. 6 h 41 m
Yellow Mountain at 5,127 feet is one of the highest mountains in the Highlands Ranger District. On the top is a fire tower built by the Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps originally inShow more
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