Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nantahala National Forest scenic by-way is a travel dream

The Nantahala National Forest has a scenic byway and outdoor recreation. It is one of four forests in the state of North Carolina. Is is bordered on the southwestern end of North Carolina by the Cherokee National Forest. It is part of the famous Appalachian Mountains and contains the terminus of the Cherohala Skyway.

The word Cherohala was created as a name for the skyway. It is a combination of the words Cherokee and Nantahala. The name pays homage to the great forest and the people who once lived and thrived in this area. Nantahala itself can be translated from the Cherokee language as 'Land of the Noonday Sun'.

Like all national forests the Nantahala offers an abundance of outdoor recreation activities. Almost everything that you can imagine is offered at once section or another. The entire forest is managed from by the three ranger districts of the Cheoah District in Robbinsville, Nantahala District in Franklin and the Tusquitee Ranger District in Murphy.

The Nantahala forest was developed with to regulate the flow of navigable waterways. One of the other reasons for the formation of the Nantahala National forest is for the protection of watersheds and to provide timber. Today, the more than 531,148 acres offer visitors almost any recreation experience that they want.

Like my family, visitors often experience the Nantahala National Forest the first time by driving a scenic road trip. One of the drives is the nationally designated Mountain Waters Scenic Byway. Get there by taking Hwy. 64W out of Franklin and follow the signs. Visitors can enjoy the Nantahala scenery from overlooks and picnic areas that are scattered along the roadside. The route takes drivers past waterways and ends at the impressive Fontana Lake.

Camping is also a popular activity in the park. The Cheoah Campground in the Nantahala National Forest is close to Robbinsville. None of the 23 campsites have electricity although water faucets and hot shows are available. Camping here is on a first come/first served basis. Camp spaces have tables, grills and flat surfaces. Kids are certain to enjoy the on site playground.

Cheoah Campground is a good jumping off point for anyone taking advantage of the many other recreation activities in the Nantahala National Forest.

Fishing and boating in the nearby Cheoah Reservoir are popular. North Carolina state laws apply for both of these activities. The website www.ncwildlife.org is the best place to check for information on laws and hatchery supported trout waters.

My family is looking forward to going back to the Nantahala National Forest and taking a dip in the Cheoah Beach. This is near the Hwy. 129 'dragon' that we drove later. Mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding are allowed on the trails in the Cheoah area. There is so much to do in the Nantahala National Forest that it's no wonder some families come back as often as they can.