Few experiences are as exhilarating as hiking to a mountaintop and soaking up the view below. It’s magical. It’s breathtaking. And it’s a moment you want to share with your children. Be sure to put hiking on your to-do list during your North Carolina Mountain Vacation.
Cashiers NC is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains. At an elevation of about 3,500 feet in the center of the Nantahala National Forest, the hiking opportunities are plentiful. So pack your boots or trail shoes and prepare for a mountaintop photo opp.
Before setting out on your family hike, you’ll want to determine a suitable trail and make sure you’ve packed the necessary supplies. First, consider the physical capabilities and ages of the family members on your hike. If you have young children, you probably won’t be going 10 miles up the side of the mountain. If you have teens, you can plan a longer hike.
An excellent option is Whiteside Mountain not far from Cashiers and located within the Nantahala National Forest. The Whiteside Mountain hike is classified as “moderate” so it’s a good option for less experienced hikers. The 2-mile trail loop goes all the way to the top of the mountain with some pretty spectacular views of 700-foot high cliff walls. In June, look for the mountain laurel in bloom.
For a more challenging hike, try Devil’s Courthouse. Access this trail from milepost 422.4 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s not a long hike (1/2 mile) but it is more strenuous. The trail leads to “sinister” rock formations, which is how the trail got its devilish name.
Once you’ve settled on a trail, here are some additional tips for a safe and fun hike:
- Take a map – a paper one. Don’t rely on a great cell signal for GPS on your phone. Go old-fashioned and have a paper map handy.
- Stay on the trails. Make sure children understand the importance of staying on the marked trails and that one misstep on the side of a mountain can lead to serious injury. If possible, put one adult at the head of the line and one adult at the end.
- Check the weather before you go. Rain will make the trails slick and an impending storm with lightening is too dangerous for hiking.
- In case of emergency, take your cell phone and, again because you don’t know how good the signal will be, let someone know which trail you’re hiking and what time you left.
- Pack plenty of water and a snack (or two depending on the length of the hike).
- Just in case, pack a small first aid kit with some Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, gauze and a cold pack.
- Wear proper shoes – boots or trail shoes with good tread. Make sure you’ve worn the shoes a few times before starting out on the hike or blisters are likely to make hiking a lot less fun.