2021 Highlands Experience Guide


2 Full Service Fly Shops in Highlands & Cashiers

15 Fly Fishing Guides

2 Private Water Leases

Destination Fly Fishing Trips Worldwide

Brookings Highlands 273 Spring Street Highlands, NC 28741 828 482 9444 highlands@brookingsonline.com

Brookings Cashiers 49 Pillar Drive Cashiers, NC 28717 828 743 3768 info@brookingsonline.com





to the lure of trails, rivers, waterfalls and mountain adventures SURRENDER


in mountain chic style at a spa resort, inn, rustic lodge, or camp in nature






wines, craft cocktails, and inspired cuisine

yourself in music, theatre, art, shopping and festivals

History, Things to Know, Chamber’s 90th Birthday 86 | INS IDER ’ S GU IDE

Directions and Maps 94 | JOURNEY TO 41 1 8”

103 | BUS INESS DI RECTORY Small Town Shopping Offers Unique Experiences



S U R R E N D E R to the lure of trails, rivers, waterfalls and mountain adventures



ach day that Justin Kingsland puts his boots on the ground is a blessing. Being a lover of all things outdoors, Kingsland appreciates the natural beauty of the Highlands area and he looks forward to his workdays.




ONE-SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL As Highland Excursion has grown, so have the offerings that

“We are so fortunate to live in a place with such an abundance of natural beauty and amazing places to explore,” Kingsland said while looking over his itinerary for the day on a cold Januarymorning. “To be in the middle of a temperate rainforest, themost bio-diverse in North America, and to have the opportu- nity to go out and be a part of it is something I look forward to every day.” As owner ofHighlandExcursion, Kingsland has spent the past four years imparting his knowledge of the natural landscape to resi- dents and visitors alike. His love of all things natural was born out of a nonprofit mission – Bridge of Hope Warrior Survival School. I started the nonprofit to help military members and first responders deal with post traumatic stress and reconnect with nature. “I started the nonprofit to help military members and first responders deal with post traumatic stress and reconnect with na- ture,” Kingsland said. “There is something very therapeutic about being outdoors and enjoying the peace and quiet. I wanted to help people and Bridge of Hope offers me the opportunity to do that.” A former member of the British Special Forces unit and the Coldstream Guards, a specialized force trained in extreme cold weather mountain survival, Kingsland at- tained his knowledge of the outdoors first- hand. Following his military service, King- sland moved to the United States and took a position as a helicopter pilot instructor. While living in Greenville, South Carolina, he discovered Highlands and began visiting to explore the mountain terrain. It was then that the idea for a business was born. “We were operating Bridge of Hope, and to be honest I am not all that great at fundrais- ing,” Kingsland said. “I decided that I better find a job that fits with the mission of the

nonprofit and that is how Highland Excur- sion came to be.” After the death of his wife, who lost a lengthy battle with cancer, Kingsland de- cided to start fresh and move to the High- lands-Cashiers Plateau fulltime with his young daughter. What started with one man and a Jeep, has turned into a growing out- door tourism business. “In the past four years we have gone from one vehicle to four and from one employee to three, four if you count our dog since he goes onmost of the trips withme,” Kingsland said. “We have been fortunate to be able to sustain our growth.” EXPANDING THE BUSINESS In 2020, Kingsland hired former United States Marine and experienced mountain guide Jeff Burnette to the team. Having a well-trainedHighlands native on staff toman a second vehicle allows for additional excur- sion offerings. Highland Excursion vehicles themselves have become a talking point across Western North Carolina and are a frequent subject of questions from tour guests. “I decided to go with the two Pinzgauer military grade vehicles because they are so rugged and able to go just about anywhere,” Kingsland said. “They seat eight people comfortably, not including the driver, and the open air design allows guests to feel like they are really out in nature even when they are seated in the vehicle – much the same as they do when they are on safari.” The unique look of the olive green Pinzgauers almost always becomes a topic of conversation whether guests are out for a half-day trip exploring waterfalls andmoun- tain sites, or part of the most extensive over- night outdoor survival school.

Kingsland can provide. From

small family out- ings, to corporate retreats, the list of potential ex- periences doesn’t stop with simply riding to over- looks for scenic views. “In a normal year we do about 200 trips and those vary based on the group at- tending,” King- sland said. “It’s not a one size fits all business, there are options.” “I think we will always be a small business, less than 10 employees, but I do see room for further growth,” Kingsland said. “When we are out on tours we al- ways either start or finish by driving down Main Street in Highlands and pointing out all that our town has to offer. I think that type of out- door tourism with a promotional angle adds value for us, for our fel-

low small busi- nesses, and for the town itself.”

For more about Highland Excursion, or to book a tour, visit www.overlandunlimited.com.


BARTRAM TRAIL: The Bartram Trail runs fromOconee State Park in South Carolina through Georgia and North Carolina to the Great Smokies. It’s marked with yellow blazes. CHATTOOGA LOOP TRAIL: This is an almost two-mile loop trail that begins to the left of the Iron Bridge. From Highlands, proceed east on Main Street for 4.5 miles. Main Street will become Horse Cove Road. Look for the intersection with Bull Pen and Whiteside Cove Roads. Turn right onto Bul l Pen Road (#1178/#1180). Proceed for 5.4 miles to the Iron Bridge. The trailhead is on the left just before bridge. CHINQUAPIN MOUNTAIN: This 3.2-mile round trip starts with its trail head at the Glen Falls Parking Lot. It’s amoderate walk, and the trail crosses streams many times. A mile- long series of switch backs leads to the top. Length: 1.5 miles. Difficulty: Moderate CLIFFSIDE LAKE RECRE- ATIONAL AREA: This is a de- lightful plunge into nature’s glorious bounty. Take US 64West for 4.5miles, turn right at the Cliffside Lake sign and continue for 1.5 miles. There are several hiking trails and picnic tables with grills and a lake for swimming and fishing It’s a fee area, for day use only. It also features a LOOP TRAIL, an easy 0.75 walk around the lake. ELLICOTT’S ROCK / BAD CREEK TRAILS: This seven-mile round trip starts on Bull Pen Road. It boasts Ellicott’s Rock, an enormous boulder embedded in the Chattooga Riverbank, bearing the letters NC, carved by surveyor Andrew Ellicott. He thought this was the intersection of North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t. That’s Commissioner’s Rock, bear- ing the symbol NC/SC 1813, 10 feet downstream. At the far end of Horse Cove, turn onto Bull Pen Road. Ell- icott’s Rock trail starts at six miles, the Bad Creek trail starts at 10 miles. Both drop steeply down from oppo- site sides of the river near Ellicott’s Rock (left bank looking down stream)

WANDER AND LOSE THE WIFI H I K E S H i g h l a n d s


T here’s no doubt that Highlands is made for those looking to lose themselves or find themselves amidst the forests and hills that surround us. Generations of naturalists, artists and dreamers have discovered paradise on the trails that wind through the wilderness. For directions to these favorite trails, stop by The Highlands Welcome Center at 108 Main Street. Take a camera with you! (This isn’t Chamber of Commerce hype – each one of these trails is loaded with charm and spectacle.) HIKING TRAILS AND QUICK GETAWAYS

and continue down river. This will give you a good workout. HICKORY KNUT GAP: TakeHwy. 106, 4 miles to Turtle Pond Road and turn right. Take a left onHickory Knut Gap Road. Drive 0.9 mile to the trail, which is a Forest Service Road on the left. Park on the right and walk road for 0.28 miles then the trail leaves the road sharply to the right. Follow the blue blazes to the junction with Bar- tram and continue to Scaly summit or beyond. You’ll feel like you’re far, far away from civilization.

largest body of water. Take in the sights of the lake while savoring a deli- cious meal at On the Verandah restau- rant (ontheverandah.com), located right on the banks of the Sequoyah. LITTLE SLIDING ROCK: Take HorseCoveRoad to the end the of pave- ment. Take the left (Whiteside Cove Road) for approximately fivemiles, then start looking for a little parking area off the road. This quiet spot, seemingly a million miles from 21st century stress, has delighted its guests for generations. Stop along the way to see the World’s Smallest Post Office. THE NARROWS: This is an easy four-milemile round trip. Its trail head leads off Whiteside Cove Road. It fea- tures spectacular views of theChattooga River forced into a narrowchannel, ex- ploding over boulders, and revealing an unexpected swimming hole. Turn left ontoWhitesideCoveRoadanddrive0.9 mile. The trail is on a logging road on the right anddescends twomiles toThe Narrows. You’ll pass a trail to the right, which continues to Bull Pen Bridge on Horse Cove Road. Be sure to return the way you came. SLICK ROCK TRAIL: This is a simple 0.2-mile round trip. TakeHorse Cove Road to the end of the pavement. Take the right fork onto Bull Pen Road and continue one mile. On a sharp left curve, look for a pull-off and a steep unmarked path on the right. The hike is short, but the summit offers an im- pressive view of the mountains. SUNSET ROCK: This is an aston- ishing site, just a few hundred yards from downtown. TakeMain Street for half a mile east until the Nature Cen- ter is on the left. Park on the gravel on the right side of the road. Sunset Rock is an ideal choice for a late afternoon stroll. It’s a short half-mile walk to the top. Beautiful sunsets can be seen over

the town, while you sit on a natural amphitheater on slabs of granite. Some people will tell you that you can drive to the summit. This is good advice if you don’t mind that your vehicle could (almost certainly will) sustain a bro- ken axle. Trust us – walk to the top. YELLOW / SHORTOFF MOUN- TAIN: To reach the trailhead, take US 64East fromHighlands threemiles and turn left onto Buck Creek Road. Fol- lowBuckCreekRoad for 2.3miles. The trail will be on the right. The destina- tion of this hike is a spectacular pan- oramic vista scene from the top of Yel- low Mountain. This strenuous hike is 4.8 miles one way, so allow for a full day. WHITESIDE MOUNTAIN: This jaw-dropping spectacle is sixmiles from town on US 64 East. Turn right at the sign onto Whiteside Mountain Road. Go one mile to a well-marked parking area on the left. This is a fee area, and there’s a restroom located in the park- ing area. The two-mile loop trail climbs above sheer cliffs andoffers outstanding views. Thismoderate trail, crowned by a panoramic vista, is a two-mile loop. WHITEWATER FALLS TRAIL: This easy0.6mile-roundtripwill reward youwith a spectacular viewof the high- estwaterfall intheEasternUnitedStates. TakeHighway 64East toCashiers, turn right onto Highway 107 South for 9.3 miles. At theWhitewater Falls sign, turn left toSC130.Continue2.3miles toastop signand turn left ontoWhitewaterRoad (SR 1171). Drive 1.1 miles to the White- water Falls sign and turn right. The trail descends very steeply to the river. There is another overlook about 100 feet fur- ther down the trail. To the left, the trail continues to the river and fords the river. There are numerous places for picnick- ing as well as shallow pools for wading and quick dips.

You’ll feel like you’re far, far away from civilization.

HIGHLANDS BOTANICAL GARDENS: This is lovely spot with several different gardens to explore, just a half mile from downtown on Main Street/Horse Cove Road. Park on the gravel area across from High- lands Nature Center. The garden paths start to the left of the Nature Center withmaps posted along the trails. The gardens are free and open to the pub- lic year-round, from sunrise to sunset. This is a little jewel just a fewhundred yards from the bustle of downtown. JONES KNOB: TakeUS 64West to Turtle PondRoad. Go 1.1miles to the in- tersection and continue to the right on DendyOrchardRoad for 1.4miles to the top of the hill. Turn left on Jones Gap Road and continue for twomiles to the parking area. Anold roadbed leads right to a wildlife management field. At the far end of the field, yellow blazes mark Bartram to the right and blue blazes mark the Jones Knob spur trail to left. Follow the blue blazed trail for .03mile to a delightful mountaintop view. LAKE SEQUOYAH: Formed in 1927, Lake Sequoyah is Highlands’



ith its ancient granite mountains and shadowed hollows, combined with abundant rainfall (Highlands is technically in a rain forest), well, it’s no surprise that the Highlands has become a national waterfall destination. Some of them are diminutive, little more than a rivulet; some of them are raging, exploding over a cliff face with irresistible force.


BRIDAL VEIL FALLS This small, picturesque fall cascades over US 64 West, 2.45 miles from town. The gen- tle cascade which you can walk behind, does indeed look like a delicate bridal veil. But the name has a deeper meaning. According to Cherokee lore, a woman who walks behind the falls in the spring will be married by the arrival of the first snow.

SECRET FALLS Due to limited access through private property, this beau- tiful waterfall has been a long-held secret. But it’s now accessible via a trail constructed across public lands, so this “secret” is out for all to behold. The best route is a southerly drive on NC 28 from Main Street in Highlands, 4.1 miles to Wilson Gap, a left turn on Rich Gap Road, then 0.6 mile and a right turn on Forest Service Road FR45670. Drive approximately 1.75 miles on this unpaved road to the Big Shoals parking area on the right. The old road turns into a footpath which leads to the falls. Enjoy the seclusion and the undeni- able sense of mystery that shrouds this little charmer.


BUST YOUR BUTT FALLS Drive 6 miles on US 64 West to pull over on right or left. This is a popular swimming hole. For the brave, one can jump off a boulder into the Cullasaja River. This series of stair-step falls on the Cullasaja River is found about six miles down the Culla- saja Gorge Road (US 64 West). There are parking areas on the left and right sides of the road. Park, stretch your legs, soak in the view, and dangle your toes in the water.

WHITEWATER FALLS Discover the East’s King of Waterfalls. Watch it cas- cade over massive rock pil- lars and drop 411 feet to the river below. Use ex- treme caution near the top of the falls. It’s worth the 23.4 miles drive fromHigh- lands via HWY 64 East to the crossroads in Cashiers, then turn right onto HWY 281 South. Signage will di- rect you to the falls from HWY 281.

CULLASAJA FALLS Drive 8.75 miles from town on US 64 West to a pull over on the left side of the road. It is strongly advised that you drive beyond the pull-off, turn around at a safe place and retrace your route. Respect the road and the unforgiving cliff face framing this exquisite series of cascades. GLEN FALLS Drive 1.7 miles on NC 106 to the sign for the falls. Turn left, then immediately turn right onto a dirt road. Drive 1.1 miles to where the road dead-ends at a parking area. Glen Falls is com- posed of three falls dropping 640 feet. The foot trail descends some 700 feet in one mile. The walk down is easy, but the walk back up is steep.


Our waterfal ls are begui l ing and will charm even the most jaded traveler. Beautiful as they are, all should be

approached with caution. Never wade into the

stream feeding a waterfall, no matter how lazy it seems and think twice before splashing in the pool at the base of a waterfall.

DRY FALLS Drive 3.25 miles on US 64 West to the parking area on the left. A pleasant walk down stone steps leads to a path that goes behind the waterfall. Here the Cullasaja River projects over a cliff, allowing you to walk behind the falls without getting wet, hence the name. (PS – You’ll probably get damp.)



BEAR I t used to be that spotting a Black Bear inHighlands was a notewor- thy event. Nowadays, if you spend any time in town – in the woods, at a home on the edge of the woods, at one of the country clubs, even on Main Street – you’re bound to run into one.


It’s not like they’re seeking out a Close Encounter. It turns out they’re spectacularly uninter- ested in you. They’re inevitably looking for an overstuffed gar- bage can, or a generously seeded bird feeder. The last thing they’re looking for is a confrontation with you (and your dog). Having said that, there are some sim- ple steps that you can take to ensure that your Bear Encounter is a simple learning experience for both parties.


• Talk or make noise to avoid surprising a bear, especially near rushing water where it may not hear you. • Stay alert. Don’t hike with earbuds in. • Keep an eye on the trail ahead. • Pay attention if you’re riding a mountain bike. You sure don’t want to startle a bear. • Keep children near. • Dogs may help detect bears but they can also quickly escalate the situation that neither side wants, so keep them on a leash.

• Avoid eye contact if you encounter a bear. Remain still and calm, or slowly begin walking backward. • Raise your arm s (to appear larger) and talk gently while backing away to safety. • Don’t throw your pack at the bear – that provides a “reward” that teaches the bear to approach people for food. • Never try to pet or feed a bear or get close for a picture – that is how most injuries occur. • Hike in groups during daylight and on established trails.

• Learn proper camping techniques to avoid problems. • Avoid standing between a female bear and her cubs. If you find yourself in this situation, slowly and calmly walk backwards. For more information, pick up the brochure Hiking and Camping in Bear Country, at the Welcome Center, Hud- son Library, or Town Hall. B.E.A.R. (Bear Education and Re- sources) is a task force of MountainTrue, a nonprofit organization. To volunteer, donate or receivemore information, call (828) 526-9227.




H E R I T A G E o u r n a t u r a l

W e take our natural heritage seriously inHighlands. One of the first ordinances passed by our Town Board made it a misdemeanor to damage a tree by tying your horse to it. And one of our oldest civic organizations is The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, which has been preserving our wild places since 1909. That translates to 3,200 acres of irreplaceable, protected forests, wetlands, and awe-inspiring vistas on the Plateau. We are also surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest and the mem- bers of the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society spend thousands of hours each year in the fields and forests, cat- aloging and conserving our winged neighbors. And we can’t forget the Highlands Biological Station who began their research laboratory in 1931. Due to Highlands location in the southern Blue Ridge, we are in one of the few places outside the tropics for empirical work in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology. In other words, the Highlands Biological Station provides a research base in the midst of a temperate-zone biodiversity hotspot.

Whether you’re a resident or visitor to Highlands, there are things you can do to help us in this serious work of protecting our home. We ask that you embrace the Principles of Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace 1. 2. 5. PLAN AHEAD and prepare for your outing. TRAVEL and camp on durable surfaces to pre- serve the delicate forest floor and prevent soil from being washed into our pristine waterways.

BE CAREFUL with your fire, whether it’s a campfire or stove. Though Highlands is technically a rainforest, wildfires are still a possibility.

6. 7.

RESPECT wildlife, whether it’s a spotted salamander or a black bear.

4. 3.

DISPOSE of waste properly, but we really don’t have to tell you this, right?

LEAVE what you find – this is a notion from the Cherokee first residents, and it was embraced by the first European settlers on the plateau.

BE CONSIDERATE of others. Again, this is one of the hallmarks of Highlands.

If you can adapt these principles into your outdoor experience, you’ll discover that your time in the Wild is an even richer experience. Oh, and we couldn’t find any evidence that the ordi- nance preventing tree abuse has ever been rescinded, so be careful where you tie your horse.


RECYC L I NG ke eping Hi gh l ands beaut i fu l

ne of the defining char- acteristics of life on the Hi gh l ands - Ca - shiers Plateau is a rev- erence for our natural heritage. This mindset has been inherited from

the Cherokee who first set- tled here. They imbued the landscape and its wild inhab- itants with a spiritual dimen- sion that informed every as- pect of their lives. That abid- ing appreciation is still em- braced by our community and our nonprofits such as High- lands-Cashiers Land Trust and Biological Foundation. Join us in protecting High- lands by following our recy- cling guidelines. WHAT CAN BE RECYCLED? Macon County accepts the following items for recycling:

#1 PLASTIC Containers must be rinsed and lids removed. Cannot accept plastic bags or pumps (hand soap, shampoo, etc.) #2 PLASTIC Clear / colored plastics must be rinsed and lids removed. Cannot accept microwavable containers, margarine tubs, motor oil and antifreeze bottles.

STEEL CANS Food and aerosol cans must be empty and rinsed. Plastic lids must be removed.

MIXED PAPER Magazines, newspaper, paper bags, envelopes, computer paper, etc. Must be clean, dry paper only.

CARDBOARD Heavy corrugated only; must be flattened. Clean, dry cardboard only.

GLASS Containers must be sorted by color, rinsed, and lids removed.

ALUMINUM Must be rinsed. Cannot accept foil, pie tins, roasting pans, etc.

Be sure to l e ave the s e i t ems out !

• Scrap metal / wood • Shredded paper • Styrofoam • Tanglers (cords, hoses)

• Food-tainted items • Household glass • Medical Waste • Hazardous waste • Packing Peanuts • Plastic bags / wrap

• All batteries • Ceramic items • Clothing or textiles • Diapers • Disposable cups • Electronics

• Tires • Toys


WHERE TO RECYCLE Recycling has no fees and is accepted at:

IMPORTANT ! A note about plastic bags:

• Highlands Transfer Station 1080 Rich Gap Road, Highlands, NC (828) 526-2073 • Buck Creek Center 10333 Buck Creek Road, Highlands, NC (828) 526-0393 • Scaly Mountain Center 717 Hale Ridge Road, Scaly Mountain, NC (828) 526-0453

Never put your recyclables in plastic bags and never put any plastic bags in your recycling bin. If you want to line your bin with a plas- tic bag, simply empty your loose recyclables into the recycling cart.


M O U N T A I N A D V E N T U R E S bl i ss at 41 18’ Since its earliest days, Highlands has promoted itself as a healthy escape from the stresses of the rest of the world. Here are some activities that’ll ensure that you’re following in this cherished Highlands Tradition.

GOLF The natural setting of our moun- tains makes golf a grand experi- ence. Tee off with mountain views as a backdrop. Nearby publ ic courses offer nine-hole executive golf courses with traditional par 3 and 4 holes and driving range. If you want to try something a lit- tle less traditional, check out Foot Golf. The game combines two sports, soccer and golf, for the whole family or group of adven- turous friends.

TENNIS AND PICKLEBALL If your passion is tennis, visit the Highlands Recreation Center at 600 North Fourth Street and re- serve a court. Of course, you can play pickleball there, too – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. FITNESS CLASSES The Highlands Recreation Park offers an entire suite of fitness classes – Heart Healthy Exercise, Yoga, Personal Training and Mar- tial Arts.

YEAR ROUND AQUATICS After chasing waterfalls and watching the streams flow through the mountain, you can dive in for fitness at the Highlands Pool Com- plex at the Highlands Recreation Center, 600 North Fourth Street. Since the pool is heated and en- closed, it can be enjoyed year- round. Public swim, lap swim, water aerobics, a monthly dive-in movie, and pool parties are all available. Fees range from daily to annual.


TRAIN RIDES For a flavor of the Southern Appala- chians you won’t find anywhere else, book an excursion on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, based in Bryson City. Trips range from three-and-a-half hours to a full day of fun and adven- ture. For information, call (828) 872- 4681 or go to gsmr.com. ON THE WATER The Chattooga River can be enjoyed for kayaking and whitewater rafting. Of course, some people enjoy swimming in its little pools and sunning on the occa- sional patches of sandy shore. Naturally there’s fly fishing along streams through- out this corner of Macon County. Check with the pros at Brookings and The High- lands Hiker for deep insight. ZIP LINING Soar from the top of the mountain across the valley for astounding views at Highlands Aerial Park in Scaly Mountain, rated by TripAdvisor as one of the Top Ten Outdoor Attractions in North Caro- lina. With eight zip lines to choose from, glide from canopy to canopy with your harness and helmet buckled tight and the Appalachian Trail in sight. Trained guides will accompany you along your journey through the trees. We recommend call- ing ahead to schedule a reservation. For more information, call (828) 414-2360 or visit highlandsaerialpark.com. BACK COUNTRY EXCURSIONS For breathtaking views of the Nan- tahala National Forest, take a back- country, adventure excursion with Highland Excursion. Spanning approx- imately 250,000 acres, complete with waterfalls, rivers and mountain views as well as historic buildings, the High- lands-Cashiers Plateau’s natural beauty and history are well-suited for the avid hiker and the modest explorer alike. We recommend dedicating three to four hours to tour. Your four-legged hiking buddy is welcomed, too! For more in- formation, call (864) 373-4022 or email justinkingsland@yahoo.com. SKATEBOARD PARK Highlands Recreation Center has a Skateboard Park of half-pipes and ramps. Also, your Mother was right – Wear a Helmet!

HORSEBACK RIDING The Whitewater Equestrian Center in Sapphire offers guided rides through backwoods logging trails and the historic Cherokee Footpath. The horses (some of them the legendary Gypsy Vaner) are gentle and wise. For infor- mation, call (828) 966-9646 or visit funhorsebackriding.com.

YEAR-ROUND TUBING Got a need for speed? Try tubing at Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center. Snow provided by mother nature and on-site equipment during colder months, and the fun continues into warmer weather as well. Slopes can accommodate young and mature tu- bers. For information, call (828) 526- 3737 or visit scalymountain.com. November through March, you can embark on an ice adventure. As stars glisten in the sky and chil- dren’s laughter sings, the ice-skating rink at Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park comes alive. If barreling across the rink isn’t your scene, grab a cup of hot chocolate or coffee, and stay toasty as you watch the activity on the ice. It’s like something from a Currier & Ives print, and it’s heaps of fun whether you’re on the ice or just watching. ICE SKATING, SLEDDING, SNOW BOARDING AND SKIING After snowfall, grab your sleds, winter boots and beanies, and head out for a local sledding tra- dition. Lined with snow-capped trees, Hickory Street transforms into a slope for sliding, gliding and memory-making with the ones you love. For a bit of trivia, that stretch of Hickory Street has been known to generations of Highlands School students (and local adults who still maintain a piece of their childhood) as Monkey Hill. If sledding only whets your ap- petite for snow, slopes, and speed, visit Ski Sapphire Valley in nearby Sapphire for snow skiing. This re- sort consists of a 1,600-foot Main Run with a vertical drop of 200 feet, complete with a state-of-the art quad-lift, a Learning Center Slope and a multiple lane, 300-foot snow tubing run. For information, call (828) 743-7663 or visit skisapphi- revalley.com.

GEM MINING Macon County is dotted with pockets of rubies and sapphires. Try your luck panning for gem- stones at the family-owned Jackson Hole Trading Post & Gem Mine. Give the tray a shimmy, and watch the sand sift away, leaving an array of enriched and native gems. Experts will help you identify your findings, and, if you happen to be dazzled by one gem in particular, gemstone cutting and jewelry setting services are available onsite. The indoor site makes for the perfect family activ- ity, rain or shine. For more infor- mation, call (828) 524-5850 or visit jacksonholegemmine.com THE FUN FACTORY If it’s been raining for a while (Highlands is a rain forest) and you have a herd of children who’ve been homebound for a bit, you’ll want to remember The Fun Fac- tory in Franklin. It’s loaded with a VR Room, acres of arcade games, mini golf, an indoor carousel, and bumper cars. If the sun’s shining, you and the kids can ride go-karts. For more information, call (828) 349-8888 or visit franklin fun.com.



H ighlands is the home to unique, not-to-be- missed natural won- ders. But there’s one feature, nearly unparalleled in the Southeast, that’s forgotten by way too many people, it’s those beautiful nighttime skies. The Cherokee reveled in these pris- tine skies. The Milky Way, which has fallen victim to light pollution across much of the United States, still shows uphere every evening, just like it did for the First People ofHighlands. They be- lieved that this glowing horizon-span- ning band of stars came into being when a Cosmic Dog stole a bag of di-

vine corn meal (dogs were always get- ting into mischief in Cherokee tales). When its naughtiness was discovered, the dog bolted across the sky, spilling heavenly corn meal (stars) in its wake. If you’d like towitness this long-run- ning cosmic drama, all you must do is wait until sunset, tilt your head back, and enjoy the sight. Highlands skies are not compromised by particulates in the air, or heat inversions, or most damaging of all, light pollution. Consider experiencing these won- derful viewing sites – close by, pan- oramic, and black as a mineshaft at midnight. Visit Sunset Rock, across from the Highlands Nature Center.

Park your vehicle and hike the gentle road to the summit. Naturally, bring a flashlight. You can spread out a blan- ket, enjoy a late-night snack or bever- age, and lie on your back. If you choose not to include a short hike, consider Highlands Memorial Park, located on Highlands Memo- rial Park Road, just off US 64. This is a beautiful setting and offers a stun- ning view of the sky, all the way to the horizon. Once you’ve settled into your spot, you’ll be astonished at the sheer depth of the display. The Milky Way reveals itself as the faint band she’s always been, having all but vanished from most of the United States.




I N D U L G E in mountain chic style at a spa resort, inn, rustic lodge, or camp in nature


T H E 2 0 2 1 T R I O A trio of new hospitality businesses are beginning operations in Highlands this year, with newcomers to the plateau finding their place in town and integrating seamlessly into the business community. Ranging from historical restorations to repurposed properties, these inns and lodges bring something new to Highlands while retaining the charm and familiarity that makes Highlands such a special place for so many.




S kyline Lodge itself is by no means a new fixture in Highlands – orig- inally constructed in the 1930s, the boutique hotel has been a mainstay in town for generations. Last summer, own- ership of the establishment changed hands when Indigo Road Hospitality Group pur- chased the property and hired Michelle and Jason Dauble to oversee the reimagined Sky- line Lodge. The couple are no strangers to the hospi- tality industry, withMichelle spending more than 20 years in event planning andmanage- ment and Jason working with high-end ho- tels and alcohol distributors in the Atlanta area for 25 years. “We're definitely keeping the name 'Sky- line Lodge,' the community seems to love that. A Frank Lloyd Wright understudy de- signed it, so we're keeping that style. The bones are all staying,” Michelle said. JUST THE RIGHT MOVE The timing for the new venture couldn't have been better for the Daubles, Michelle said, as it came at a time when they were al- ready looking to relocate and get away from Atlanta after spending their entire adult lives there. “Our daughter was approaching high school and we were already contemplating a move to be in a better school district,” she said. We're just so happy to be up here. My husband and I both worked in the heart of downtown Atlanta, and we were leaving at 6 o'clock to get them to school. It was a rat race.”


The couple now lives in Trillium Links and Lake Club with their two children, a far cry from the bustling streets of downtown Atlanta. Moving to the plateau has been a much- needed change of pace, Michelle said. “We love living in Trillium, we love having the lake,” she said. “Over the summer we've rented a boat a few times, we've gone tubing and paddle boarding. It's so nice having the lake and the mountains. We pinch ourselves a lot.” The Skyline Lodge is currently undergoing repairs and up- dates, an event barn on the property is also in development, for weddings, corporate events and more.




“It had multiple log homes on it, and it was owned by a seventh-genera- tion Highlander who had lived there all his life,” Margaret said. “He inher- ited it in 1979 and built the first log cabin, and he was one of the preeminent log home restorers in the area.” Over time, the previous owner brought two other cabins to the property from elsewhere in Western North Carolina and restored them. Now, two of the historic cabins will serve as lodging for the farm alongside a soon-to-be- constructed honeymoon cabin nearby on the property. The Shutzes purchased the nearly 30-acre property that hosts Flat Moun- tain Farm in December 2019, and have spent the last year tapping into their hosting experience from their time spent together in Boulder, Colorado as they develop the property to suit their vision. “We had a similar property there on three acres, and we wanted to do the same thing but expand it into a main business for us,” Margaret said. “We had a pretty successful venue in Colorado, and the very first wedding we hosted was withMartha Stewart weddings. It was amazing, and it just kind of snow- balled from there.” THE PERFECT MATCH When the couple decided it was time to expand, they left their day jobs in Colorado behind. “We kind of realized we have kids who are five and six, and we only have about 10 good years where they'll want to hang out with us. We just didn't want to be that busy,” Margaret said. So, the couple decided to look for a place that would suit them and the rest of their family. After some searching aroundWestern North Carolina, Margaret said Highlands, and this property in particular, proved to be a perfect match. “All I wanted was a cute town with cute stores and a welcoming, aestheti- cally pleasing environment,” she said. Chris really wanted a farm, with pas- tures and hills but flat enough for animals. We had different boxes we wanted to check, and this one hit all of those for us.” Upon arriving here, the couplewas happy to discover that theyweremet with open arms and their children quickly found a community that embraced them. “We wanted that small town environment, and family atmosphere,” she said. “We've been amazed at how open and warm everyone has been in accept- ing new people to the community. That's exactly what we were looking for.” While Margaret and Chris Shutze's Flat Mountain Farm is certainly located on a historic bit of property in Highlands, they will be the first owners to use it as a hospitality venue in its storied history.


The Highlander Mountain House is another reimagining of a longtime High- lands business, occupying the site of the former Main Street Inn in downtown Highlands. New owner Jason Reeves said the property spoke to him on a trip to Highlands, as he was in the process of planning a new hospitality venture. MOUNTAIN HOUSE HIGHLANDER

“We had friends in Cashiers and Highlands, and I also had a boutique hotel company,” Reeves said. “I was always searching for op- portunities. I loveWestern North Carolina, and this town is so fantastic. I was eating lunch at what was theMain Street Inn and thought, 'My God, this place has so much potential.'” Much like the Daubles efforts at the Skyline Lodge property, Reeves has made every effort to retain what he can of the historically signifi- cant building that was once theMain Street Inn. “I used to restore old buildings in Charles- ton, and I have an appreciation for architecture and history and preservation,” Reeves said. “It was a wholesale renovation, and we've tried to bring back the historical integrity because some of that was covered up. But we did mod- ernize the amenities.” ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE MEETS APPALACHIA The reinvigorated inn, along with its com- panion restaurant The Ruffed Grouse Tavern, opened in October 2020, after eight months of restoration work by Reeves and his team. The finished product is what Reeves describes as “an English countryside hotel brought to Appalachia.” Reeves currently splits time between High- lands and Charleston, and he said the escape to Highlands has been transformative for him and his family. “The kids are still in Charleston, but we come up quite a bit. I'm an avid fly fisherman, and we go on hikes all the time,” he said. Live music is another passion of Reeves’s and is something he hopes to incorporate into the atmosphere of the Ruffed Grouse Tavern as time goes by.

“In my old hotels, we had Leon Bridges, Gil- lian Welch, people like that staying with us when they were in Dallas,” he said. “I'd like to get some good live music flowing through Highlands, and I'm going to try to make that happen.” Ultimately, Reeves said he sees the High- lander Mountain House as more than just a hotel or tavern, but as a sort of hub for the community where people can stop for coffee, bring laptops to work in the lobby or socialize around the fire in the evening. “I think we're trying to accentuate all of the good stuff going on in Highlands and add a new niche to it,” he said. “At the end of the day, we're trying to build off other great lodg- ing and provide a modern, eclectic kind of take on that.”







Highlands has been welcoming guests since, well, since High- lands began. The town offers many choices in accommodations from guest houses, inns, lodges, boutique hotels and resort hotels all in a close-knit hospitality community, each unique and each loaded with that peculiar Highlands balance of sophistication and small town charm. Most are within an easy walk of downtown, further enhancing that quaint Highlands feeling. And since most are family-run, you can chatwith your innkeepers and your housekeepers and learn the secrets and stories of this town – congratulations, you’re an honor- ary Highlander, even if you’re just here overnight or over a week! Of course, since Highlands is a coveted resort destination, it’s a good strategy to book your lodging as far in advance as possible. Hospi tal i ty The of HEIGHT

Visithighlandsnc.com maintains a listing of all the inns, hotels, lodges and camping in the area, so it’s a good gambit to learn all your options. Read about our historic accommodations on pages 40-41.



Be indulgent in mother nature’s arms. Camping is a great way to not only see the abundance of nature Highlands has to offer but an opportunity to enjoy a per- sonal experience in the forest and water areas on the mountain. There are many improved and prim- itive campsites in the National Forests that ring the Highlands-Cashiers Pla- teau. For a complete list contact the Ranger Stations for the Nantahala, Sum- ter, and Chattahoochee National Forests. In addition, there are also many private campgrounds such Franklin RV Park & Campground and River Vista RV Resort. HIGHLANDS HIDDEN CREEK An exquisite five-site RV Park that is nestled 4,118 ft elevation in the Blue Ridge Mountains, only 4 blocks from the historic Highlands, NC downtown. Great location to have easy access to world class golfing, shopping and dining as well as hiking and fishing. Each site pro- vides: City water/sewer, 50 amp service, Cable & WiFi and Access to Outdoor Kitchen and Outdoor Stone Fireplace. Highlands Hidden Creek RV park provides an intimate, pictur- esque location with only five sites accommo- dating Class A motor homes! 828.200.7950 HighlandsHiddenCreek@icloud.com


VAN HOOK GLADE CAMPGROUND From Highlands, take Highway 64 west for 4.3 miles to the entrance. Van Hook Glade is an intimate campground, sloped and wooded for privacy. There are 18 RV-and tent-accessible sites. No hook-ups are available. A Federal Interagency Pass is required and Senior and Access Discounts are accepted. You’ll find modern restrooms with hot showers. Van Hook campers have access to the wonderful facilities and recreational possibil- ities offered at Cliffside Lake. It’s open April through October. Reservations are available online at Recreation.gov or by call- ing (877) 444-6777. Information is available online at cfaia.org. BLUE VALLEY PRIMITIVE CAMPING AREA From Highlands, take Highway 28 south for six miles, turn right onto Blue Valley Road and proceed three miles to this campground on the right. There’s no developed water sup- ply in the area so water from streams should be boiled before drinking. There are picnic tables and one pit toilet. There is no charge. Open year-round. RALPH J. ANDREWS COUNTY PARK From Cashiers, take Highway 107 north for 6.4 miles to Pine Creek Road (SR 1157). Turn left onto Pine Creek Road and go 1.1 miles to Splendor Cove Road. Look for Ralph J. Andrews County Park sign and turn left. There are RV hook-ups, showers and a boat ramp. For additional information, call (828) 743-3923. AMMONS BRANCH PRIMITIVE CAMPING AREA From Highlands, take Main Street east, which becomes Horse Cove Road. Go 4.6 miles to the intersection with Bull Pen Road. Take right onto Bull Pen Road and proceed 1.3 miles. The campground is on the right. There’s no developed water supply so water from streams should be boiled before drinking. A pit toilet is available. There is no charge. Open year-round. ELLICOTT ROCK WILDERNESS Camping is permitted within the wilderness except within 50 feet of the river, tributary stream, or trail, and less than a quar- ter mile from a road. No groups over 10 people are permitted. BURRELS FORD CAMPGROUND From Cashiers, take Highway 107 south for 14 miles to Bur- rels Ford Road (FS-708). Turn right and proceed 3 miles to the campground on the left. The campground is located close to the wild and scenic Chattooga River and has several campsites with tables and grills. Water and a pit toilet are available. Fishing is available on the river and there is access to the Foothills Trail, Chattooga River Trail, King Creek Falls and Spoon Auger Falls. OVERFLOW ROAD PRIMITIVE CAMPING AREA Take Highway 28 south from Highlands for 12 miles and turn right onto Warwomen Road. Drive 0.2 of a mile, turn right onto Overflow Road and go 1 mile to the camping area on the left. Once you’ve settled listen for a rich variety of species includ- ing the Scarlet Tanager, Worm-eating Warbler and Ovenbird. At the beginning of Rich Gap Road in Horse Cove, don’t miss the Padgett Poplar Tree Trail and the third largest Tulip Pop- lar in the United States. This is a good place to see the Black- throated Green Warbler.




Renew and heal your body surrounded by the beauty of our mountain forest. Indulge in a cozy cup of tea or coffee, and then delight yourself with a soothing skin treatment or restorative massage using locally grown andworld-renowned herbs and botanicals. Favorite destinations are GiftedHands, Zen Spa and Taylor Barnes, all of which have complementary services and seasonal specials. The luxuriant service at the core of The Spa at Old Edwards Inn has earned this Highlands landmark an international following. The Spa invites you to immerse yourself in relaxed European-style luxury, dedicated to nourishing the mind, body and spirit. Spas to soothe


ince its earliest days, Highlands has been an irresistible beacon for weary travelers and those looking for something more, something different, from everyday life. That’s probably why two of its oldest busi- nesses, the Main Street sisters: The Highlands Inn and Old Edwards Inn and Spa. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and OEI was named TripAdvisor’s #5 TopHotel in the United States. with history HOSPITAL ITY

THE HIGHLANDS INN The Highlands Inn was built in 1880 and it maintains its original lines and all the charm that’s kept guests returning year after year. Though it’s right on Main Street, the inn exudes an unhurried ambi- ence that’s immediately soothing to ruffled nerves. The ghost of former owner Helen Aberdeen Major (known to all as Miss Major) has been reported to make occa- sional appearances over the decades, pre- sumably inspections. Miss Major was also a stickler on propriety and tried to prevent any hanky panky among her guests.



Old Edwards Inn and Spa grew out of Hi gh l ands ear l i es t boarding house (Central House) built in 1878 and owned byDavidNorton. In 1914, Highlands Po- lice Chief J. Grover Ed- wards bought the place and changed its name to The EdwardsHotel. Rip and Pat Benton bought the place in 1981 and,

after extensive renovations, opened The Old Edwards Inn. And then in 2009 the property was purchased and continues today under the caring ownership of Art and Angela Williams. Who would have imagined the Central House would become an in- ternational resort destination, earning Mobile Five Star and AAA Five Diamond awards known as the Old Edwards Inn and Spa?



MAKING OLD THINGS NEW Two of the five oldest accom- modations have been embraced by lovers of Highlands and his- toric places over the last year and are being lovingly restored for visitors and residents to enjoy. The Main Street Inn , recently renamed as the Highlander Moun- tain House, was built in 1881 as a private residence for Captain Charles A. Boynton. It then be- came a boarding house, restau- rant (known for country ham, red- eye gravy, fried chicken, and hot biscuits in the late 50’s) and then again a boarding house turned Inn. See pages 30-31 for the new chapter of this Inn. Skyline Lodge traces its ori- gin to an intended private hunt- ing lodge and men’s club facility started in the 1930s with designs by Architects Arthur Kelsey (who studied with Frank Lloyd Wright) and Herb Millkey. Sadly, the project was not completed. In 1965 Engl ish-born Derek Grumbar completed the project as Skyline Lodge. Though it was just three miles from downtown Highlands, its location at the foot of Flat Mountain gave it the feel of being a thousand miles from the cares of the world. You will want to read the story about its plans to reopen in 2021 on pages 26-27.

If you want a taste of Highlands as it was, just book a room at Mitchell’s Lodge & Cottages . You’re always welcome to chat with them about where to have a memorable meal in town or where to go to pick apples or catch a rainbow trout. Or you can catch a mo- ment of bliss rocking gently on the porch. That friendly, small town spirit was built into the DNA of the place, which was founded as Mitchell’s Motel by Doc Mitchell in 1939. Doc was also the town pharmacist and was on a first-name basis with everyone in town. Though on first glance he appeared gruff, in reality he was a softie who’d travel over dark mountain roads in the middle of the night to deliver needed medications to his customers. Today, Doc’s grandson Al Bolt and his wife Renee oversee Mitchell’s and offer the same level of gracious service and tranquility that has been its hallmark since the 1930s.

The Main Street Inn is now the Highlander Mountain House.

Skyline Lodge is set to reopen in 2021 with new ownership.


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