Cherokee National Forrest on a Whim: Haute Travel

A view from the top

Fur covered hills from the top of the mountain

From rolling hills, to vastly dense trees, to streams of rivers, these are the views one can relish on a trip to Cherokee National Forrest.  Now I made it here on a whim, while visiting Murphy, NC for a work engagement, but it was still a great trip to take, albeit short.

Let’s first start with, Murphy, NC; a small town on the TN/NC border, which is surrounded by mountains and forest as far as the eye cans see.  A stay in Murphy will get you some good (and relatively cheap) eats (at places like Mama Mia’s, Shoebooties Cafe, and Doyles-check out the Tiki bar here open in March), a slow pace, and some darn good nature. We started the week exploring Murphy’s Riverwalk, which is a truly lovely and peaceful trail along the Hiwassee River.  It starts and ends in different places, like the local ball field or the old train depot, both of which provide you with great access to the trail, and also give you insights into the Cherokee History of the area.   This is a must-do to kick of a great nature trip in this part of the country.

murphy riverwalk at leech place

murphy riverwalk at leech place

Old rail bridge in Murphy

Old rail bridge in Murphy

After settling in, we implored the locals on the best routes to get into the forest.  If you put this area into Google Maps, you will get a driving path around the forest, to the Bald River Falls area, about 1.5 hours from Murphy.  But what we learned from the locals was that there is a semi-paved mountain path which leads through the middle of the forest, and can only be found if 1. you know it or 2. you look for a bike trail into the area.  Given the time we had, we opted for the bike path route, and mapped our way to the Trout Hatchery at Telico.

The ride up the mountain was partially rough terrain (good thing we rented an F150 pickup), but otherwise paved or gravel roads.  As you ascend the mountain, you get to see just how vast and dense this forest is, with trees covering the area for hundreds of miles.  The trees were dense, but given that it was still winter, not lush green – though one can only imagine.  Seeing the dense forest reminded me of fur covering the hills, and was a different site than some of the rock hikes I have done.

trees on the mountain

trees on the mountain

Along the way we also caught sight of some great waterfalls as we followed the Tellico River through the path.  Though we didn’t make it, I would recommend a trip further in to the biggest falls in the area, Bald River Falls.

small waterfall on the path

small waterfall on the path

We stopped off for a bit of hiking on some of the trail area (you can camp out here, as they have set up lots of stops and facilities on the Tennessee side).  The trails here are natural, and in our case, leaf-covered, but still easy to navigate.

Cherokee Forest trails

Cherokee Forest trails

As the sun was setting, we decided to head back to town about half-way to Bald River Falls…still catching some nice sites along the way.  I would relish a trip back to this area in spring or summer…maybe with a kayak or two.

a river runs through it

a river runs through it

Seeing as Spring is approaching, I am looking forward to more outdoor fun and haute travel to come!

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