Whiteside Mountain Trail In North Carolina

Here is everything you need to know about the Whiteside Mountain Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: North Carolina
  • Length: 2 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: U.S. Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes.
  • Website: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/north-carolina/whiteside-mountain-trail

The Whiteside Mountain Trail, located in the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina, holds a rich historical significance that dates back centuries. The trail follows the path once used by Native American tribes, who inhabited the region long before European settlers arrived. These tribes, including the Cherokee and Creek, utilized the mountain as a prominent landmark and often traveled through the area for trade and hunting purposes.

During the 18th century, European settlers began to explore and settle in the region. Whiteside Mountain, named after one of these early settlers, was a vital landmark for pioneers and played a crucial role in their navigation. The mountain’s towering cliffs and distinctive shape made it easily recognizable, serving as a guide for travelers and a point of reference for early maps.

In the mid-19th century, the construction of the railroad in the nearby town of Cashiers further increased the importance of Whiteside Mountain. The mountain’s granite cliffs were quarried to provide materials for the railroad’s construction, and the trail itself was used to transport these materials. The railroad brought economic growth to the area, and Whiteside Mountain became an integral part of the region’s industrial history.

Today, the Whiteside Mountain Trail stands as a testament to the area’s rich past. Hikers and nature enthusiasts can explore the trail and witness the remnants of the mountain’s historical significance, from the Native American heritage to the early European settlement and industrial development. The trail not only offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape but also provides a glimpse into the history that shaped the region.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Whiteside Mountain Trailhead: This is the main access point for the Whiteside Mountain Trail. It is located off Highway 64 near Highlands, North Carolina.

2. Whiteside Mountain Loop Trailhead: This trailhead is located near the Whiteside Mountain Trailhead and offers a loop trail option for hikers.

3. Whiteside Cove Road Trailhead: This access point is located off Whiteside Cove Road and provides an alternative starting point for the Whiteside Mountain Trail.

4. Highlands Biological Station Trailhead: This trailhead is located near the Highlands Biological Station and offers a convenient starting point for hikers.

5. Highlands Nature Center Trailhead: Located near the Highlands Nature Center, this trailhead provides access to the Whiteside Mountain Trail.

6. Whiteside Mountain Overlook Trailhead: This access point is located near the Whiteside Mountain Overlook and offers a shorter trail option for visitors.

7. Whiteside Mountain Picnic Area Trailhead: This trailhead is located near the Whiteside Mountain Picnic Area and provides access to the Whiteside Mountain Trail.

8. Whiteside Mountain Visitor Center Trailhead: Located near the Whiteside Mountain Visitor Center, this trailhead offers a convenient starting point for hikers.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Whiteside Mountain Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Whiteside Mountain Shuttle – Shuttle service offering convenient transportation to and from Whiteside Mountain Trail.
2. Mountain Taxi – Reliable taxi service available for transportation needs around Whiteside Mountain Trail.
3. TrailRide – Transportation service specializing in providing rides to outdoor enthusiasts visiting Whiteside Mountain Trail.
4. Hike & Ride – Shuttle service catering to hikers and outdoor adventurers exploring Whiteside Mountain Trail.
5. Adventure Transport – Transportation service offering convenient rides to and from Whiteside Mountain Trail for outdoor enthusiasts.
6. Summit Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation options for visitors heading to Whiteside Mountain Trail.
7. Trailblazer Transport – Reliable transportation service offering rides to and from Whiteside Mountain Trail for hikers and nature lovers.
8. Mountain Hopper – Shuttle service specializing in transporting visitors to Whiteside Mountain Trail for a memorable outdoor experience.
9. Nature’s Ride – Transportation service dedicated to providing convenient rides to Whiteside Mountain Trail for nature enthusiasts.
10. Trail Trekker – Shuttle service offering reliable transportation options for individuals exploring Whiteside Mountain Trail.


The amenities available at Whiteside Mountain Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at the trailhead or nearby parking areas.

2. Parking: There is designated parking available at the trailhead or nearby parking areas.

3. Camping sites: Whiteside Mountain Trail does not have designated camping sites. However, there may be nearby campgrounds or camping areas in the vicinity.

4. Picnic areas: There are no designated picnic areas along the trail. However, visitors can find suitable spots along the trail or at nearby picnic areas.

5. Hiking trails: Whiteside Mountain Trail itself is a hiking trail, offering scenic views and a moderate level of difficulty.

6. Interpretive signs: Along the trail, there may be interpretive signs providing information about the flora, fauna, and geological features of the area.

7. Benches: There may be benches or resting spots along the trail for visitors to take a break and enjoy the surroundings.

8. Trash receptacles: Visitors are encouraged to carry out their trash, but there may be trash receptacles available at the trailhead or parking areas.

9. Information boards: There may be information boards at the trailhead or parking areas providing details about the trail, safety guidelines, and any current updates or closures.

It is always recommended to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on amenities and facilities available at Whiteside Mountain Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging: Highlands Inn – Cozy inn offering comfortable accommodations near Whiteside Mountain Trail.
2. Lodging: Hampton Inn & Suites Cashiers-Sapphire Valley – Modern hotel with amenities located a short drive from Whiteside Mountain Trail.
3. Lodging: The Park on Main – Upscale boutique hotel offering luxurious rooms in downtown Highlands, close to Whiteside Mountain Trail.
4. Food Services: Mountain Fresh Grocery – Local market providing a variety of fresh food options for hikers near Whiteside Mountain Trail.
5. Food Services: The Ugly Dog Public House – Lively pub serving American fare and craft beers, conveniently located near Whiteside Mountain Trail.
6. Food Services: Ristorante Paoletti – Italian restaurant offering a diverse menu of pasta, seafood, and more, situated close to Whiteside Mountain Trail.
7. Emergency Services: Highlands-Cashiers Hospital – Full-service hospital providing emergency medical care near Whiteside Mountain Trail.
8. Emergency Services: Highlands Police Department – Local police department offering emergency assistance and support near Whiteside Mountain Trail.
9. Emergency Services: Highlands Fire Department – Fire and rescue services available for emergencies near Whiteside Mountain Trail.

Whiteside Mountain Trail Difficulty Notes

The Whiteside Mountain Trail is known for its moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The trail spans approximately 2 miles and features a well-maintained path with clear signage, making navigation relatively easy. However, the trail does include some steep sections and rocky terrain, requiring hikers to be cautious and wear appropriate footwear. Additionally, the trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making the effort well worth it. Overall, while the Whiteside Mountain Trail may present some challenges, it is a rewarding and manageable hike for those seeking a scenic adventure.

Features And Attractions

1. Whiteside Mountain: The trail itself offers stunning scenic views of Whiteside Mountain, which is known for its towering cliffs and unique rock formations.

2. Devil’s Courthouse: Located near the trail, Devil’s Courthouse is a prominent rock outcrop that offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

3. Cashiers Valley: As you hike along the Whiteside Mountain Trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Cashiers Valley, a picturesque area known for its rolling hills and lush greenery.

4. Blue Valley Overlook: This scenic overlook provides a stunning view of the Blue Valley, with its vast forests and meandering rivers.

5. Highlands Plateau: The trail takes you through the Highlands Plateau, a region known for its diverse flora and fauna, including rare plant species and various wildlife.

6. Whitewater Falls: Although not directly on the trail, Whitewater Falls is a short drive away and is worth a visit. It is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States and offers a spectacular sight.

7. Chattooga River: The trail crosses the Chattooga River, a designated Wild and Scenic River that is famous for its whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities.

8. Nantahala National Forest: The Whiteside Mountain Trail is located within the Nantahala National Forest, which is known for its pristine wilderness, abundant wildlife, and numerous hiking trails.

9. Historical Significance: While the trail itself does not have specific historical sites, the surrounding area has a rich history, including Native American heritage and early European settlements. Exploring the region can provide insights into the area’s past.

10. Natural Landmarks: Along the trail, you’ll encounter various natural landmarks, such as unique rock formations, old-growth forests, and scenic overlooks that showcase the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Whiteside Mountain Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Hiking is permitted year-round, but be aware of seasonal restrictions and closures due to weather conditions or maintenance work.
3. Camping and overnight stays are not allowed on the trail.
4. Leave no trace: Pack out all trash and dispose of it properly.
5. Fires and smoking are strictly prohibited on the trail.
6. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the Whiteside Mountain Trail.
7. Hunting and fishing are not permitted on the trail.
8. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off the marked path.
9. Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed any animals encountered on the trail.
10. Be prepared and bring enough water, food, and appropriate clothing for your hike.
11. Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at the trailhead or along the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Whiteside Mountain Trail, located in North Carolina, offers breathtaking views and a unique hiking experience. When planning your visit, it’s important to consider the best times of the year to fully enjoy this trail. The spring and fall seasons are particularly popular due to the mild temperatures and vibrant foliage. In spring, the trail is adorned with blooming wildflowers, creating a picturesque landscape. Fall, on the other hand, showcases a stunning display of colorful leaves, making it a favorite time for photographers and nature enthusiasts.

During the summer months, the Whiteside Mountain Trail can be quite crowded, especially on weekends. However, this is also a great time to visit if you enjoy warmer weather and longer daylight hours. The trail offers shaded areas, providing relief from the heat during your hike. It’s advisable to start early in the morning to avoid the midday heat and to secure a parking spot, as the trailhead can get busy.

It’s important to note that the Whiteside Mountain Trail has seasonal closures. From December 1st to March 31st, the trail is closed to protect the wildlife and preserve the natural environment. During this time, the trail undergoes maintenance and repairs to ensure a safe hiking experience for visitors. It’s recommended to check the trail’s official website or contact the local park authorities for the most up-to-date information on closures and trail conditions.

Overall, the best times to visit the Whiteside Mountain Trail are during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant, and the scenery is at its most vibrant. However, regardless of the season, this trail offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience for hikers of all skill levels.


1. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near the trailhead for individuals with disabilities.
2. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are provided at the trailhead for convenience.
3. Paved Pathways: The trail features paved pathways, allowing wheelchair users to navigate easily.
4. Handrails: Sturdy handrails are installed along certain sections of the trail to assist individuals with mobility challenges.
5. Benches: Several benches are strategically placed along the trail, providing resting spots for those who may need them.
6. Clear Signage: Clear and visible signage is present throughout the trail, ensuring easy navigation for all visitors.
7. Assistance Animals: Service animals are permitted on the trail to assist individuals with disabilities.
8. Accessible Viewing Areas: Scenic viewpoints along the trail are designed to be accessible, allowing everyone to enjoy the beautiful vistas.
9. Trail Grade: The trail is designed with a manageable grade, making it easier for wheelchair users to traverse.
10. Accessibility Information: Detailed accessibility information is available online or at the trailhead, providing visitors with comprehensive guidance.

Safety Information

1. Wear appropriate footwear: Choose sturdy hiking boots or shoes to provide traction and ankle support on the rocky terrain.
2. Carry plenty of water: Ensure you have an adequate supply of water to stay hydrated during the hike.
3. Use sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, as parts of the trail are exposed to direct sunlight.
4. Check weather conditions: Before starting the hike, check the weather forecast to avoid potential hazards like thunderstorms or extreme heat.
5. Stay on the marked trail: Stick to the designated path to avoid getting lost or encountering dangerous areas off-trail.
6. Watch your step: Be cautious while navigating the rocky sections of the trail to prevent slips, trips, or falls.
7. Be aware of wildlife: Keep an eye out for wildlife, such as snakes or bears, and maintain a safe distance if encountered.
8. Carry a map and compass: Bring a map and compass or a GPS device to help navigate the trail and prevent getting disoriented.
9. Hike with a buddy: It’s recommended to hike with a companion for safety and assistance if needed.
10. Inform someone of your plans: Let a friend or family member know about your hiking plans, including the estimated duration, in case of emergencies.
11. Pack essential supplies: Carry a first aid kit, whistle, flashlight, extra clothing layers, and snacks in case of unexpected situations or emergencies.
12. Stay alert and be cautious: Pay attention to your surroundings, be mindful of your physical abilities, and hike at a pace that is comfortable for you.
13. Respect the environment: Leave no trace by packing out your trash, staying on the trail, and respecting the natural surroundings.
14. Follow any posted regulations: Observe any posted signs or regulations along the trail, such as restrictions on camping or swimming in certain areas.
15. Be prepared for changing conditions: Weather and trail conditions can change rapidly, so be prepared with appropriate gear and adjust your plans accordingly.

Conservation Notes

The Whiteside Mountain Trail, located in North Carolina, is considered to have a stable conservation status. The trail is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is part of the Nantahala National Forest. As a designated National Recreation Trail, it is subject to specific regulations and management practices aimed at preserving its natural and cultural resources.

Conservation efforts on the Whiteside Mountain Trail primarily focus on maintaining the trail’s ecological integrity and protecting the surrounding environment. The trail traverses through diverse habitats, including hardwood forests, rocky outcrops, and high-elevation balds, which are home to a variety of plant and animal species. To ensure the preservation of these habitats, the trail is regularly monitored for any signs of erosion, invasive species, or other disturbances that may impact the local ecosystem.

In addition to ecological conservation, the Whiteside Mountain Trail also emphasizes the preservation of cultural resources. The trail passes through areas of historical significance, including remnants of early settlements and Native American artifacts. Efforts are made to educate visitors about the importance of respecting and preserving these cultural resources, encouraging responsible hiking practices and discouraging any activities that may cause damage or disturbance.

Overall, the conservation status of the Whiteside Mountain Trail is considered stable due to the ongoing efforts to protect its natural and cultural resources. Through the implementation of regulations, monitoring, and educational initiatives, the trail management aims to ensure the long-term sustainability and enjoyment of this scenic and ecologically significant trail.

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