Other Mountain Adventures & Recreation
For a flavor of the Southern Appalachians you won’t find anywhere else, book an excursion on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, based in Bryson City. Trips range from three-and-a-half hours to a full day of fun and adventure. For information, call (828) 8724681 or go to gsmr.com.
On the Water
The Chatooga River can be enjoyed for kayaking and whitewater rafting. Of course, some people enjoy swimming in its little pools and sunning on the occasional patches of sandy shore. Naturally there’s fly fishing along streams throughout this corner of Macon County. Check with the pros at Brookings and The Highland Hiker for deep insight.
The Whitewater Equestrian Center in Sapphire offers guided rides through backwoods logging trails and the historic Cherokee Footpath. The horses (some of them the legendary Gypsy Vaner) are gentle and wise. For information, call (828) 966-9646 or visit funhorsebackriding.com
Got a need for speed? Try tubing at Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center. Snow’s provided by mother nature and on-site equipment during colder months, and the fun continues into warmer weather as well. Slopes can accommodate young and mature tubers. For information, call (828) 526-3737 or visit scalymountain.com.
Macon County is dotted with pockets of rubies and sapphires. Try your luck panning for gemstones at the family-owned Jackson Hole Trading Post & Gem Mine. Give the tray a shimmy, and watch the sand sift away, leaving an array of enriched and native gems. Experts will help you identify your findings, and, if you happen to be dazzled by one gem in particular, gemstone cutting and jewelry setting services are available onsite. The indoor site makes for the perfect family activity, rain or shine. For more information, call (828) 524-5850 or visit jacksonholegemmine.com
Highlands Recreation Center has a Skateboard Park of half-pipes and ramps. Also, your Mother was right – Wear a Helmet!
If it’s been raining for a while (Highlands, is a rain forest) and you have a herd of children who’ve been homebound for a bit, you’ll want to remember The Factory in Franklin. It’s loaded with a VR Room, acres of arcade games, mini golf, an indoor carousel, and bumper cars. If the sun’s shining, you and the kids can ride go-karts. For more information, call (828) 349-8888 or visit franklinfun.com