With over 80% of the land protected as National Forest, Nature Conservancy, or National Wilderness, this area is not only the most beautiful and scenic area in the Smokies, but also has the greatest scarcity of private land...making it an adventure wonderland for nature enthusiasts.
White Water Rafting
Located within easy reach are five outstanding white water experiences: The Nantahala (Class II & III), The Ocoee (Class III & IV).The Chatooga (Class III & IV), The Nolachokee (Class III & IV), and the Cheoah (Class IV & V), located 10 miles from Wildsprings and considered the “top white water river in the Eastern US”.
Mountain Biking & Horse Trails
A 15 minute drive from Walnut Cove, the Tsali Recreational area offers four spectacular and challenging mountain biking and horse trails along ridges with spectacular views of Lake Fontana and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Tsali is one of the top mountain biking destinations in the eastern US. The trails are also open to hikers.
The seclusion and unspoiled nature of Lake Santeetlah make it a fishing paradise. Teeming with largemouth and smallmouth bass, lake trout, walleye, bream, and crappy, the lake is destination to many enthusiasts, and until recently boasted the state records for walleye and largemouth bass. Two of the top ten trout streams in the eastern US flow into Lake Santeetlah, the Big Snowbird Creek and the Little Santeetlah Creek. A third, the upper Nantahala River is within 20 minutes of the lake.
All these streams combine unimaginable beauty, challenging waters, rewarding catches, and are among the most biologically diverse settings in the world. Western North Carolina has over 2000 miles of streams and rivers. These fishing areas range in size from small back-country brook trout streams to large tailrace rivers. Wild Rainbow, Brown and native Brook trout inhabit the many cool mountain streams throughout The Great Smoky Mountains, where the many trails in the National Park, the Nantahala National Forest and the Joyce Kilmer Memorial forest offer endless opportunities for back-country fishing.
Canoeing, kayaking, water-skiing, jet-skiing, and wake-boarding are some of the many boating activities you can enjoy on Lake Santeetlah. The still water coves are perfect for beginner and advanced skiers alike. Take a leisurely tour in a pontoon boat through wild country. With close to 80 miles of the total shoreline of the lake in immaculate condition, chances are you could spot a bald eagle soaring over the waters or a deer swimming across a cove. This is your backyard, protected forever.
Hiking and Trail Camping
In addition to the Nantahala National Forest, the area is surrounded by hundreds of miles of hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail, which extends into Great Smoky Mountains National Park and provides access to some of the most beautiful terrain on earth. It is a unique place to enjoy the peace and wonder of nature, whatever your hiking ability.
Pitch your tent by the shore of the Lake Santeetlah, under more stars than you knew existed. Sit around a campfire long into the night telling tales and roasting marshmallows. The Forest Service maintains over fifty primitive campsites on the shore of Lake Santeetlah, many only accessible by boat. Most of these sites are equipped with a picnic table, fire ring, grill, lantern posts, and cleared area for pitching your tents. Once you stake a site it can be occupied for up to two weeks with no fee or permit required.