Graham County is home to much of the Nantahala National Forest. In fact 68% of the county is National Forest. Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness areas are the biggest attractions. Snowbird Backcountry is even more remote. Be sure to have maps and all the gear before hiking into these densely forested mountains (maps at Cheoah Ranger Station 828-479-6431). The average tourist will be more at ease in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest with shorter, well marked trails that loop back to the parking area. The Appalachian Trail passes through Graham County as it winds its way from Georgia to Maine. If you would like to walk on the trail, head to Stecoah Gap on Sweetwater Rd/Hwy 143 East. At the top of the mountain there is a great overlook and parking area. Take the trail where you parked your car – this is also an excellent trail for birding.
Nearby is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park bordering the entire northern edge of the County. Access to the park on the southern side of the mountain is at Twenty Mile Ranger Station – a short 1 mile hike round trip will bring you to the lovely Twenty Mile Cascades! Just across the Cherohala Skyway into Tennessee you find the Cherokee National Forest.
Tsali Recreational Area with camping, boat ramp and four challenging trail loops is popular with mountain bikers and horseback riders. Another great location for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and camping is the Santeetlah Lake Trail.
Our forests provide trails for hikers. Forest service roads are for licensed vehicles only.
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