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Accessible Highlands

We invite you to experience the epitome of Western North Carolina mountain beauty here in the charming town of Highlands. Nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes and majestic mountains, Highlands, NC offers an idyllic haven where both residents and visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquil allure of nature. 

To ensure that Highlands is accessible to all, we offer the following guide to immersive adventures that cater to all abilities: 

The Great Outdoors 

Highlands Biological Station’s North Campus Pollinator Garden 
111 Lower Lake Road, Highlands NC 
The pollinator garden boasts over 10,000 plants attracting native pollinators and other wildlife throughout the seasons. 

The Station has dedicated handicap parking off Lower Lake Road leading to a ramp and the John “Sto” Stowers Teaching Pavilion which rests on Lindenwood Lake. When it is not being used as an outdoor classroom, it is a nice spot to relax and enjoy the view. 

Highlands Nature Center  
930 Horse Cove Road, Highlands, NC  
Plan your visit to the Highlands Nature Center to meet live animals, explore our natural history exhibits, and stroll through the adjacent Highlands Botanical Garden.  

The Nature Center features zero-step entry, an ADA Compliant door opener, as well as a ramp leading to the museum's main exhibit hall. 

Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park 
Pine Street, Highlands, NC 
-Farmer’s market (Saturday mornings April – Oct) 
-Live music (Saturday nights May – mid-Oct)
-Picnic area 

Cliffside Lake Recreation Area  
14014 Highlands Road, Highlands, NC  
Picnic area and fishing. Parking ADA 


Highway 64 between Highlands and Franklin is part of the U.S. Forest Service-designated Mountain Waters Scenic Byway and features several waterfalls as the road parallels the Cullasaja River.  

Bridal Veil Falls 
This is one of the most unusual and most popular falls in the South by virtue of its easy access along scenic mountain US 64 West, 2.45 miles from town. The falls drop for 120 feet. During cold spells, the spray creates a large mound of ice at its base. If it stays cold long enough, the falls will form one giant column of ice. It is easily viewable from the car.  

Dry Falls 
Dry Falls flows over an overhanging bluff which allows visitors to walk under the falls and remain relatively dry when the waterflow is low, hence its name. A pleasant walk down stone steps leads to a path that goes behind the waterfall. There is a viewing platform off the parking lot that allows those that are not able to walk down the paved path to view the waterfall.  
Directions: From Highlands drive 3.25 miles on US 64 West to the parking area on left, which charges a $3 per car fee.  


Our dedicated local fishing guides and outfitters can provide support to individuals with mobility challenges, ensuring an exceptional experience for everyone in our meandering rivers and tranquil lakes and streams. 

Brookings Anglers  
273 Spring Street, Highlands, NC 
Highland Hiker  
601 Main Street, Highlands, NC 

Scenic Overlooks 

Big Bear Pen Mountain 
The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust preserves several properties on the summit of Big Bear Pen Mountain and maintains each to provide views of the surrounding mountains. Four views – Whiteside, Satulah, Kalanta , and West – are easily accessed by driving the small loop around the top of Big Bear Pen Mountain. Park on the side of the road for views or, if able, walk a few feet to well-placed benches at each of the four views. 
Directions: From Highlands, take Chesnut Street and turn left onto Big Bear Pen Road. Stay right when you see the “wildflower preserve” sign.  

Blue Valley 
Head out to the Blue Valley Overlook, just 3.5 miles from downtown Highlands on Dillard Road/NC 106. Blue Valley gets its name from the natural haze that shades the valley and its surrounding carpet of mountains. Views can be seen from the parking lot.  

Around Town 

The Bascom: A Center for Visual Arts 
323 Franklin Road, Highlands, NC 
The building features an elevator for viewing second story exhibits and attending classes on the lower level. A wheelchair is also available if needed.  

Center for Life Enrichment 
348 South 5th Street, Highlands, NC 
There are two handicap accessible parking spaces, ramped entry and handicap accessible restroom facilities. 

Highlands Historical Museum  
524 N 4th Street, Highlands, NC 
Zero-step entry. 

The Highlands Performing Arts Center 
507 Chestnut Street, Highlands, NC 
The Highlands PAC is home to the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival, Highlands Cashiers Players, Mountain Theatre Company and the PAC Educational Theatre. 

Wheelchair accessible seating is available for performances by contacting the box office at 828-526-9047. Assistive Listening Devices (receivers) are available upon request.  

The Highlands Recreation Center 
600 N 4th Street, Highlands, NC 
Indoor pool with an accessible zero-edge entry. Building entry is available via ramps from the parking lot. Call ahead for information on fees.  

Hudson Library 
554 Main Street, Highlands, NC 
The library has zero-step access and handicap-accessible doors on both front and rear entrances. They also offer the following assistive technologies: 
-low-vision desktop magnifier 
-public computers include options such as touchscreen monitor, large-print keyboards, trackball mouse and bone conduction headphones. 
-talking and braille books, courtesy of the North Carolina Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  

Smoky Mountain Performing Arts Center 
1028 Georgia Road, Franklin, NC 
Eight designated handicap areas are available for parking mobility devices. For more information or assistance, please contact the box office at 828-524-1598. 

Public Restrooms 

ADA public restrooms can be found at the following locations: 

Highlands Chamber of Commerce/Visit Highlands, NC Welcome Center 
108 Main Street, Highlands, NC 

Kelsey Hutchinson Founders Park 
Pine Street, Highlands, NC  

Town Square 
343 Main Street, Highlands, NC