Nantahala National Forest

Quick Facts

Nantahala National Forest

North Carolina

(828) 257-4200


Things To Do


The Nantahala National Forest lies in the mountain and valleys of southwestern North Carolina. The largest of North Carolina's four national forests, the Nantahala encompasses 531,148 acres with elevations ranging from 5,800 feet at Lone Bald in Jackson County to 1,200 feet in Cherokee County along the Hiwassee River. The Forest is divided into three Districts, Cheoah in Robbinsville, NC, Tusquitee in Murphy, NC, and the Nantahala in Franklin, NC. All district names come from the Cherokee language. "Nantahala" is a Cherokee word meaning "land of the noon day sun," a fitting name for the Nantahala Gorge, where the sun only reaches to the valley floor at midday. The Nantahala National Forest was established in 1920 under authority of the 1911 Weeks Act. This act provided authority to acquire lands for national forests to protect watersheds, to provide timber, and to regulate the flow of navigable streams. In the Nantahala National Forest, visitors enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities from whitewater rafting to camping. With over 600 miles of trails, opportunities exist for hikers, mountain bikers, horse-back riders and off-highway vehicle riders.

Map of Nantahala Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 35.226330, -83.563040



  • Boating

    The Chattooga River is popular with whitewater kayakers.

  • Bicycling

    All three districts of the forest have extensive mountain biking trails.

  • Camping

    Developed campgrounds are located in all three of the forest's districts.

  • Fishing

    The forest has excellent lake fishing, as well as trout fishing in creeks and streams.

  • Hiking

    The forest has over 600 miles of hiking trails. The Appalachian Trail crosses through the forest, as well.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    The Wayehutta ATV System is a real treat for OHV enthusiasts.

  • Picnicking

    Developed picnic areas are located throughout the forest.

Phone Numbers


(828) 257-4200