Whiteside Mountain is a Mecca for hikers and climbers and dogs so Cocoa gives it five paws! It’s located deep within the heart of the Nantahala National Forest and is one of the most beautiful places I have been in a long time. The pathway is rocky but not dangerous.
The trailhead is located just off Highway 64 between Highlands and Cashiers. I think the parking fee is a couple of dollars and it is well worth it. It’s clearly marked and part of it is an old logging road, which was also once used to shuttle visitors to the top of the mountain.
Views from the 4,930 foot summit are fantastic. The overlooks (there are several) offer 210 degree views of the surrounding mountains.
Pastor David told me about this hike and said it was one of his favorites. It is about a mile to the top. Then the trail runs along the cliffs and rock outcroppings before it begins to descent.
Along the way, you pass lots of wire barriers. The trail is super close to the edge of the cliffs so crossing over these would definitely not be a good idea.
One guy said the climb to the top was a “leisure stroll.” But for some reason, it felt a lot tougher for me. I’ll go back and give it another try but probably will wait until fall. This area is “over the top” gorgeous any time of the year.
Some of the cliffs are 700 feet though almost 1000 feet of climbing is required when you include all of the traverses on the route. Hey—I read those facts; I’m not a rock climber, but we did run into at least three groups of climbers—one leaving and two at the summit.
Some of the pathway is very tight and within inches of the side of the mountain.
And then there are the many steps taking you down and back to the car.