All outdoor activities impact the environment, altering it in some manner for those who come behind. Please practice the "Leave no trace" philosophy in all your activities whether they occur at your local community park or in the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, leaving as minimal an impact as possible for those who follow you.

Also, please be courteous of private property. At times, boundaries between public and private land are not clearly mark, so please consult a map to ensure you will not be trespassing onto private property. Please do not go onto private property without the property owner's expressed permission.

Additionally, please be "bear aware". Whenever participating in outdoor activities in and near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, black bear sightings are possible, as they are in many other parts of the country. But, as with all wild animal / human interactions, there is information which will help protect us, and the wild creatures we hold so precious and have personified and deified for centuries. One of the most important is the philosophy present throughout the country: "A fed bear is a dead bear". This philosophy is based on the reality: when humans feed bears, those bears begin to assume humans they cross paths with in the future will feed them, as well. This leads to humans and animals being placed in dangerous situations, which can lead to one or both being injured or killed. Please do not feed any wildlife when you are outdoors.

The Nantahala River is the most versatile river in the southeastern US. With a managed dam-released flow, water is reliably available through the Nantahala River Gorge. And this river is perfect for whitewater adventurers of all skill levels. Beginners can learn the basics on the moderate rapids of the Nanty, while those with more advanced skills can creatively play. Rafters may rent and guide their own raft with more ease than on many rivers in the southeast. Due to less rigid regulations and the ease of accessibility, the Nantahala lends itself to the adventurer with a creative personality, even permitting large groups of individuals to set up competitive courses. Remember, though, 'leave no trace'.

Nearby, in the edge of the Great Smoky Mtns National Park, Deep Creek
flows toward Bryson City. This recreational area is a favorite of playful, water-lovers everywhere. You may tube this stretch of creek for miles and tube rentals abound in the area. Deep Creek also offers picnic areas, hiking trails and camping. Consult a map for campground layout and requirements, creek access points and more.

For those willing to travel, the Wild & Scenic Wilson Creek is located in the Pisgah National Forest, in Avery County, NC. Wilson's Creek is a recent addition to the Wild & Scenic family and a true wilderness experience, though easily accessible. Many of the trails are primitive, so be sure to carry a map here, as well.

A Note about River Etiquette:
The Nantahala Gorge is enjoyed and used by individuals of varied backgrounds and interests. Always respect the activities of others. Consider other's access to the river and their river experience. We all share this great space.

Whitewater Disclaimer:
Whitewater activities, as with all outdoor activities, have inherent dangers involved in participation. These dangers include the risk of bodily harm and death. Never go on the water alone, always take a person knowledgeable of the area you are playing on with you and always scout any rapid you are unfamiliar with.

The southern Appalachian Mountains are a waterfall enthusiast's dream. This area, with its plentiful rain and steep terrain, creates waterfall after waterfall of every shape, size and design.

Near the border of North Carolina and South Carolina, the Wild & Scenic Horsepasture River flows. The Horsepasture River is the shortest river in the National Wild & Scenic System, a mere 4.2 miles, and a very steep one. This river has multiple waterfalls and the Scenic designation is applied to the largest portion of the protected length of the river. The Horsepasture ends it's descent, at remote Lake Jocassee. Lake Jocassee has multiple waterfalls along its shoreline, including Laurel Falls . For information on how to access these waterfalls, for watercraft rental and more, the only game in town is Hoyett's at Lake Jocassee.

Always remember: Waterfalls are places of unparalleled beauty and danger. Never attempt to climb a waterfall, avoid ledges and remember rocks can be very slippery. Never allow children and pets near ledges. Waterfalls are best observed from the bottom, away from slippery rocks. Additionally, waterfalls are home to fragile ecosystems. Much of this plant life will die if walked on or disrupted, please keep a safe distance.

No other place in the world compares to the Nantahala Gorge. Its placement within the triumvirate of the Cherokee National Forest, the Pisgah National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest, creates access to hundreds of thousands of hiking trails. The difficulty is deciding where to go - which National Forest, which trail, what wilderness area, which waterfall, the list goes on and on. Please be sure to make note of the Trail Tips for sound methods of experiencing the wilderness.

Among your choices for hiking trails are side trails of the Appalachian Trail, Deep Creek and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Cades Cove.
There are many additional hiking trails located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest. The Pisgah National Forest has hiking trails in Day Use Areas, Backcountry Areas,
the Harmon Den, Hot Springs Areas, Shining Rock Wilderness Area,
Cradle of Forestry Trail Guide, Linville Gorge and Interpretive hikes at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest. The Nantahala National Forest has hiking trails in the Backcountry Areas, Day Use Areas, at Cliffside Lake Recreation Area, Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and Tsali Recreation Area.

Rock Climbing:
Rock Climbing can be very exciting, as well as a very dangerous. There are inherent risks in rock climbing, including bodily injure and death. Always follow activity-related standard precautions and practices when out in nature. Never climb alone. Additionally, rock climbing can be destructive. Never leave permanent marks, pitons, etc, nor disturb flora or fauna, when climbing. We are only visitors to other species' homes when we venture out into wild places.

Mtn. Biking:
Mtn Biking can be a very destructive activity when practiced in unapproved areas. Please remain on those trails designated for Mtn Biking and refrain from riding on hiking trails or in ecologically sensitive areas.

Horseback Riding:


Camping / Backpacking:

Release Schedule
Nantahala FS

Guide Assisted Trips
Raft & Duckie Rentals
Raft'N Rail®

Nantahala River
Upper Nantahala River
Little Tennessee
Calderwell Resevoir
Wilson's Creek


Cherokee National Forest
Great Smoky Mtn Nat'l Park
Pisgah National Forest
Nantahala National Forest
Wayah District
Joyce-Kilmer Memorial Forest / Slickrock Wilderness
Ellicott Rock Wilderness
Southern Nantahala Forest

Great Smoky Mtns NP
NC Waterfalls
Western NC Waterfalls
Cliffside Lake Rec. Area
Whitewater Falls

Appalachian Trail

Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests
Linville Gorge NC

Great Smoky Mtns.
Cades Cove
Nantahala National Forest
Tsali Recreation Area

Harmon Den, Hot Springs
Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River
Bent Creek Experimental Forest
Pisgah National Forest
Backcountry Areas (Pisgah and Nantahala Forests)