Beginning in Highlands, this 61 miles nationally-recognized byway winds through
southern Appalachian hardwood forests, by numerous waterfalls and lakes and
through two river gorges. Traveling from Highlands to Almond the Mountain Waters
Scenic Byway follows U.S. 64, old U.S. 64, SR 1310 (Wayah Road), and U.S. 19.
The last miles of this drive travels through the Nantahala National Forest
ending at the Fontana Lake. If you enjoy a scenic drive where you can picnic
along the way then this drive is for you. Along the byway you can also enjoy
boating, canoeing and rafting, biking, fishing, hiking and swimming. Bring your
boat, canoe, or kayak and enjoy a fun-filled day on one of the area lakes or on
the Nantahala River.
Areas of Interest Along
CULLASAJA GORGE: makes up the first 7.5 miles of this byway. Traveling through
the beautiful Cullasaja Gorge, the winding road parallels the Cullasaja River
and offers spectacular scenic views of the river and the waterfalls of Highlands
on U.S. 64. A side road actually allows you to drive behind Bridal Veil Falls,
where the thin "veil" of water falls for 120 feet.
DRY FALLS: You'll find this 75-foot beauty 2.1 miles west of Highlands on U.S.
64. From the parking area, a short paved trail leads you directly behind the
CLIFFSIDE LAKE & VAN HOOK GLADE: Cliffside Lake Recreation Area is 4.4 miles
west of Highlands and then 1.5 miles off U.S. 64. This area offers camping,
picnicking, swimming, fishing and hiking.
WAYAH CREEK: West of Franklin, the byway turns right on old U.S. 64, then left
on SR 1310. SR 1310 (Wayah Road) parallels much of the 6-mile stream. The creek
is a good fishing stream, but most of the streamside is private land and is
posted "no trespassing". Along Wayah Creek is the Arrowood Glade Picnic Area.
Wayah Crest Picnic Area is at Wayah Gap.
WAYAH BALD: A side trip to Wayah Bald is well worthwhile. From Wayah Gap,
journey 1.3 miles up gravel Forest Road (FR) 69 and see the Wilson Lick Ranger
Station. Built about 1913, Wilson Lick was the first ranger station in the
Nantahala National Forest. Continue another 3.2 miles up FR 69 to Wayah Bald.
Take the short, paved trail to the historic Wayah Bald Fire Tower. Built by the
Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's, the tower provides a great view of
the southern Appalachian Mountains in Georgia, Tennessee, and both Carolinas.
You can picnic nearby at the Wayah Bald Picnic Area. Two long-distance trails,
the Appalachian Trail and the Bartram Trail, cross the mountain at the tower.
NANTAHALA LAKE: Located about 6 miles west of Wayah Gap, this lake has 29 miles
of shoreline and offers fishing and boating. Boat ramps are available.
NANTAHALA RIVER: This mountain river offers great trout fishing in its upper and
lower reaches. The stretch of river above the powerhouse has excellent
catch-and-release fishing from spring until early summer.
NANTAHALA RIVER GORGE: The Nantahala River draws many boaters who enjoy
whitewater rafting, canoeing, and kayaking. Many businesses along the river
offer both guided and unguided raft rentals. Most rafting trips begin from the
Nantahala River Launch Site and float down the 8.5-mile whitewater run. About
2.75 miles downriver from this launch site is the Ferebee Memorial Picnic Area,
which provides another launch and takeout area. At the lower end of the
Nantahala River, a commercial-only takeout and a private boater area are
provided. From a wooden walkway, spectators get a thrilling view of the wild
ride over the final series of rapids, including Nantahala Falls. Nantahala River
outfitters, under Forest Service permit, can help plan trips to fit your skill
level and provide any equipment you might need.
FONTANA LAKE: This lake offers great Bass and Pike fishing with 11,685 acres of
water surface and also provides recreational water activities such as boating,
kneeboarding, swimming, and water skiing. Construction of the 480 foot high
Fontana Dam, which was completed in 1944 and is the highest Dam east of the
Rockies, backed water for 30 miles to make up what is now the Fontana Lake.
Numerous boat ramps are available.
Asheville Area Attractions and Activities
'A Mountain Memory'
Vacation Rental Cabin