Hiking Trails Near Cashiers and Highlands

The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau is located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina and is one of the richest areas in the country for hiking trails and waterfalls. The variety of hiking trails in and around the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau makes this area a hiker’s paradise. It is truly a wonderland of indigenous flora and fauna that lead to beautiful waterfalls and spectacular mountain views. The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau offers something for everyone: from the hard-core hiker to those who just want a stroll. Take some time to explore the Nantahala National Forest and see why this area is known as "The land of many uses.”

Bartram Trail (BT)

The Bartram Trail is named after the naturalist William Bartram. The sections of this trail in the Highlands-Cashiers area are only part of the trails he traversed in the four-year exploration of the eight southern colonies. The Bartram trail was officially constructed based on his description of his adventures in, Bartram’s Travels and is designated as a National Recreation Trail. It has been constructed for hiking only (foot traffic) and the section of trail in North Carolina meanders 78 miles near the towns of Franklin, Highlands, Andrews, Robbinsville and Nantahala. There are seven sections of The Bartram Trail in this area. The section that runs the closest to Highlands-Cashiers is Section One and it is 12.5 miles long. Wayah Bald is the highest point on the trail.

The trail is marked with yellow rectangle shaped markers in NC and diamond shaped markers in Georgia.

Section One runs 12.5 miles from Hale Ridge Road near Rabun Bald in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina to Hickory Gap in Highlands NC. Section Two runs 9.8 miles from Hickory Gap to Buckeye Creek. One of the trail heads starts at Rabun Bald which is in Scaly Mountain, Georgia off of Dillard Road.

There are five parts of Section One and it takes about five hours:
1. Hale Ridge Road to Osage Overlook (3.7 miles);
2. Osage Overlook to Scaly Mountain Overlook (2 miles);
3. Scaly Mountain Overlook to Tessentee Creek Camp (2.3 miles)
4. Tessentee Creek to Hickory Gap (1.8 miles)
5. Hickory Gap to Jones Gap (1 mile).

Part 1: Hale Ridge to Osage Overlook
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.7 miles

Directions: Hale Ridge Road Trailhead:
From downtown Highlands, drive east on Hwy 64 (toward Franklin) and turn left on NC 106 (Dillard Road). Drive southwest toward Dillard, Georgia for seven miles to Scaly Mountain. Turn left on Hale Ridge Road, which makes a sharp left in 2.1 miles. Go one mile and you will see a NC Bartram Trail sign and bulletin board on left. There is a small parking lot on the left side of the road.

Part 2 - Osage Overlook to Scaly Mountain
Difficulty: Strenuous
Mileage: 2 miles

Directions: Osage Mountain Overlook Trailhead:
From Highlands, drive 5.7 miles southwest on NC 106 (Dillard Road). The paved overlook and trailhead will be on the left.

Part 3 - Scaly Mountain Overlook to Tessentee Creek Camp
No trailhead access.
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 2.3 miles

Part 4 – Tessentee Creek to Hickory Gap
No trailhead access.
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 1.8 miles

Part 5 - Hickory Gap to Jones Gap
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 1 mile

Directions: Hickory (Knut) Gap Trailhead:
Take Hwy. 106, four miles to Turtle Pond Road and turn right. Take a left on Hickory (Knut) Gap Road. Drive 0.9 miles to trail, which is a Forest Service Road on the left. Park on the right, and walk on the road 0.28 of a mile. The trail is on the right, off the road. The trail is marked with blue blazes that will intersect with the Bartram Trail.

Directions: Jones Gap (Knob) Trailhead:
Directions: From Highlands, drive southwest on Hwy 106 (Dillard Road) for four miles, turn right on Turtle Pond Road. Go 3.3 miles then turn left on to Dendy Orchard Road. Drive 1.3 miles to the top of the hill, turn left onto Jones Gap Road. You will see a large Bartram Trail access sign. Drive two miles to the parking area and the Jones Gap (Knob) Trailhead.

Rabun Bald

Rabun Bald, at an elevation of 4,696 feet, is the second highest point in Georgia and has spectacular views of the George, South Carolina and North Carolina mountains. It is part of the Bartram Trail system in Georgia. The ascent is two miles long and is extremely steep making the hike strenuous. The base of the observation platform at the top of Rabun Bald was the original base for the first fire tower in the area that was taken out of commission in the 1970’s.

Directions to Rabun Bald Trailhead: From Highlands (Hwy 64) traveling west, turn left on Hwy 106 (Dillard Road). Travel approximately seven miles and turn left onto Hale Ridge Road in Scaly Mountain, GA, just past the post office. Travel approximately two miles and take a slight right. Go approximately a mile and a half and turn left on Kelsey Mountain Road. There are US Forestry signs that will guide you to the trailhead.

Glen Falls Trail

The Glen Falls trail leads to three stunning waterfalls. The conditions vary on the trail depending on the weather which makes the hike down to the falls relatively easy, but can make the hike back up, strenuous. There are some viewing platforms at the top of the mountain to give a full perspective of the falls.

Directions to Glen Falls Trailhead: From Highlands traveling toward Franklin (west), turn left (south) on Hwy 106 (Dillard Road) for approximately three miles. You will see a sign that says "Glen Falls Scenic Area” on the left. Turn left and travel approximately 1.5 miles to a parking area where you will find a sign for the Glen Falls Trailhead (left) and the Chinquapin Trailhead (right).
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: Half-mile descent to the falls.