Kick off the new year with a mountain getaway during “Secret Season,” the quieter winter months. This is a great time to enjoy the clear and crisp mountain air with less crowds, affordable accommodations and scenic trails all to yourself! Enjoy top small towns of Cashiers, Sylva and Dillsboro for a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway in scenic Jackson County west of Asheville in January, February and March. (Feature photo: Soco Falls, Cherokee)
For the ultimate spa day of relaxation and rejuvenation, head to Fusions Spa (714 W Main St, Sylva) Located conveniently in downtown, Fusions offers signature experiences and therapies to bring you transformational wellness in a serene and relaxing atmosphere. For reservations, call (828) 631-0232.
In the Cashiers area, check out Canyon Spa at Lonesome Valley in Cashiers (121 Lonesome Valley Rd, Sapphire). Serving Cashiers, Sapphire, and Highlands, Canyon Spa offers a full array of natural body and facial treatments, therapies and products, all promoting wellness and relaxation. Relish in signature add-ons like a body brush exfoliation, aromatherapy, warm stone massage or aqua gel face masque. For reservations call: (828) 743-0006. Also see our Cashiers Guide for things to do.
Chocolate & Beer
Find some fantastic craft breweries that are friendly and fun places to hang out. Some must-try seasonal beers at Innovation Brewing include Chocolate Stout in January and Peanut Butter Amber in February! Pairing with some chocolate makes it even better.
Sylva: Pick up some local chocolates from Baxley's Chocolate (546 W Main St) and head to one of two downtown Sylva breweries: Innovation (414 W Main St) and Balsam Falls (506 W Main St). (Pictured above)
Dillsboro: Pick up chocolates at the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory (28 Church Street) and walk over to Innovation Station Brewery (40 Depot Street).
Cashiers: Get your chocolates at Cashiers Farmers Market (78 Highway 64 East) and head to Whiteside Brewing (128 NC-107).
Read more about these breweries on the Jackson County Ale Trail.
Grand Old Lady Hotel
Retreat to a relaxing getaway in the mountains. Since Jackson County is home to large sections of the Nantahala National Forest, it's easy to find a secluded log cabin or resort with a fireplace or whirlpool and hot tub. Go to the Jackson County Guide for places to stay.
Chef Johannes Klapdohr puts finishing touches on an appetizer at the Library Kitchen + Bar
Jackson County Restaurants Cashiers
The Orchard: Southern-American restaurant in a restored farmhouse with scenic orchard & garden views. Open Fri/Sat through winter, 5:30-9 PM. 905 NC-107, Cashiers
Library Kitchen and Bar: Farm-to-table, fine dining. Open Tue-Sat, 5-9 PM. 184 Cherokee Trail, Sapphire
SlabTown Pizza: Serves pizza, calzones, salads, wings. Tues-Sat 11:30 AM-8 PM, Sun 4-8 PM. 45 Slab Town Rd, Cashiers
Lulu’s Restaurant: Diner-style restaurant serving Southern cuisine. Open Mon-Wed, 4:30 AM-2 PM/ Thurs-Sat, 4:30 AM-9 PM/ Sun, 4:30-7 PM. 120 N Hwy 49, Richfield
Guadalupe Cafe: Farm-to-table restaurant with a tropical fusion menu. Open Tues-Sun, 11 AM-9 PM. 606 W Main St, Sylva
Haywood Smokehouse: BBQ cooked low and slow, scratch-made sides. Open Tues-Sat, 11 AM-9 PM. 403 Haywood Rd
Dillsboro: Find handcrafted pottery, sculptures, paintings, photography and more in Jackson County's many galleries and shops. Riverwood Pottery, in historic Dillsboro, has been firing stoneware for more than 40 years.
Cashiers: Cashiers is home to dozens of upscale home shops and design boutiques, such as Joan Anderson Interiors and The Designer's Market. The Art of Living is another unique home and accessory store open year-round and expanding to include home furnishings this spring.
- Whitewater Falls: (photo above) Located in Nantahala National Forest, this is one of the highest waterfall east of the Rockies, falling 811 ft.!
- Whiteside Mountain: (feature photo) Located near Cashiers, this super scenic loop trail takes you along the clifftops the panoramic views of Nantahala National Forest. Condé Nast Traveler picked it as a top hike in the country!
- High Falls: Hike down to the bottom of this 150-foot tall waterfall below the dam for Lake Glenville. Find towering cliffs and plenty of rocks for sitting. Afterwards, walk across the road for the lakeside park for a picnic on those mild winter days.
- Schoolhouse Falls: Stroll through Panthertown Valley to this scenic waterfall deep in Nantahala National Forest.
- Pinnacle Park: Winter is a perfect time for this strenuous yet rewarding hike with panoramic views from the summit, one of the few trails that never closes due to ice or snow.
- Shadow of the Bear: In mid-February, see this unique natural spectacle more commonly known for its fall appearance in October. The Shadow of the Bear actually comes out of hibernation twice a year. It makes an appearance for just 30 minutes on sunny days at 5:30 PM and continues through early March.
(Photo courtesy of Instagram user @lando_the_magnificent)
Cashiers Waterfall Loop
See four waterfalls in one day with an easy scenic drive through Nantahala National Forest. From Cashiers, head south on NC 107 for four miles to Silver Run Falls. This beautiful setting is a short walk from the road. Continue south five miles on NC 107 into South Carolina and turn left onto Highway 37-413 for about 2 miles. At the end, turn left onto Highway 130 North back into North Carolina to find Upper Whitewater Falls (photo above) on the right. It’s a short walk on a paved trail to the overlook for one of the tallest waterfalls in eastern USA. For a longer hike to more waterfalls, turn right out of the Upper Whitewater Falls parking area on NC 281 North for about 8 miles to Gorges State Park. Hike to Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls.
Tubing at Sapphire Valley Ski Resort
Ski & Tube
Near Cashiers is Sapphire Valley Ski Resort, a small resort perfect for beginners and families that don't want to tackle the crowds of the bigger resorts. A fun option is their 700-foot tubing run - fun for all ages with no experience required! Go to the Jackson County Guide for details.
Cherokee Scenic Drive
From Dillsboro, the authentic Cherokee is an easy 15-mile drive. Your first stop should be the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Next door, see plenty of local crafts and art at Qualla. Continue on US 441 for just 3 miles to reach the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains Park. Stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum to learn more about this area. Continue into the park on Newfound Gap Road for a scenic drive up to Newfound Gap (open except for snow and ice storms). Read more about Cherokee.
Yes, winter is a great time to fish. Jackson County is home to the WNC Fly Fishing Trail, the country’s first and only fly fishing trail. Since the cooler temperatures allow fish to feed all day long and the state starts its supplemental stockings in the fall, the fish are plentiful and biting during the cooler months. Local guides take you to the best spots and provide all the gear. Go to the Jackson County Guide for details.
More info: Go to Jackson County Winter Planner with plenty of things to do, restaurants and events.