Varied Lengths SKILL: Novice to Advanced
Wildlife, rare plants, waterfalls, lots of solitude
Some of the most remote back-country in both Carolinas
as the "Other Blue Ridge Parkway" the Cherohala Skyway
cuts through the most remote back-country in North Carolina. Named
by combining the "Chero" from Cherokee and the "Hala"
from Nantahala. The Cherokee
Indians named what is now the Nantahala River Gorge, Nantahala.
In the Cherokee language Nantahala means "Land of the noonday
sun". Presumably this was referring to the steep walls of the
gorge, which only allow direct sunlight on the river during the
middle of the day. The Nantahala Gorge is nearby and some Cherokee
descendants still live in the area.
took 10 years and 100 million dollars to build this 40+ mile long
engineering marvel. It connects the Robbinsville, North Carolina
area to the Tellico Plains area in Tennessee. Prior to it's construction,
the trip was made very difficult by rutted forest roads. Controversy
surrounded its construction from the beginning until its opening
in 1996. Environmentalists wanted its construction halted because
of its disruption of migratory routes. Previous to this intrusion
into this wilderness area, the mountainsides here were unscarred
by major development. The local residents countered with claims
of economic benefit and convenience. In the end the road and its
proponents won a decisive battle. The battle is over, all that is
left is a beautiful road.
winds through pristine back-country west of Robbinsville, North
Carolina, crosses the Tennessee border and ends in the Tellico Plains
in the Cherokee
National Forest. It offers a look into a wilderness that most would
not otherwise experience. Rest areas and overlooks are placed in
good locations for a glimpse into the wilderness. The Skyway has
not received the visitation that one would expect, the panoramic
views from the parking areas are often free of tourists. Perhaps
the beauty of the views and the unspoiled landscape, have not earned
a reputation yet.
of the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness, Snowbird and the Citico Creek Wilderness
can be enjoyed from the high-points along the skyway. Often
hikers will park their cars here and The views at night are just
as impressive. The stars and constellations are easier to see because
ther are few towns nearby. The views from the overlooks are unusual
because there aren't any lights in the valleys. If you see a light,
it is probably from a campers lantern!
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Area Map | Cherohala