Nantahala National Forest

Welcome to the Nantahala National Forest! 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 Hiawassee 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.

Click here for more information from the US Forest Service Nantahala Page.