We’ve visited around 50 different Blue Ridge Mountain towns in the last few years. And in our experience, the town of Cashiers NC is something of an anomaly.
Located east of Highlands, less than 10 miles north of the South Carolina border, Cashiers doesn’t have the charming downtown area we typically associate with our favorite small towns.
It’s not as easily walkable as Hendersonville. It doesn’t have the hip vibe we got from Brevard, or the cultural allure of Cherokee. It doesn’t feel as warm and welcoming as Waynesville (founded by my ancestor, Col. Robert Love, in 1809).
In fact, Cashiers isn’t technically a town at all. It’s an unincorporated village, with no active governing body since locals voted down the opportunity to incorporate back in 2003.
Cashiers is small, with a population of less than 700 people. It’s wealthy, with multi-million dollar houses on Lake Glenville and in Sapphire Valley. And it’s got cool weather, with the average daily temperature in July around 78ºF.
But the biggest allure of Cashiers for us was the incredible array of outdoor attractions the area offers, including several lakes, the Panthertown Valley section of Nantahala National Forest, and the Tuckaseegee River Gorge.
Read on for our guide to the best things to do in Cashiers NC & Jackson County, including all the best parks, hiking trails, restaurants, waterfalls, and more!
Cashiers NC Map
Best Things to Do in Cashiers NC Guide
- Check Out the Village Green of Cashiers
- Explore Gorges State Park
- Hike to Silver Run Falls
- Lake Glenville Scenic Waterfall Cruises
- Picnic at Cashiers Lake
- Sample the Best Cashiers Restaurants
- See Upper Whitewater Falls
- Ski Sapphire Valley
- Slide Down Cashiers Sliding Rock
- Visit Grimshawes Historic Post Office
1. Check Out the Village Green of Cashiers
Located at the intersection of Hwy 64 and Hwy 107, the 13.2-acre community park features lovely walking trails through lushly landscaped grounds that include wildflowers, wetlands, and forest habitat.
They also host a number of festivals here, including an annual Fireworks Extravaganza in July, the Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival in October, and more.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Winston Salem NC
2. Explore Gorges State Park
Located 20 minutes east of Cashiers, the 8,000+ acre park is home to around 56 miles of hiking trails, 17 miles of mountain biking trails, 12 miles of horseback riding trails, and several of our favorite NC waterfalls.
Like the Deep Creek Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gorges features a trail where you can visit 3 gorgeous waterfalls (Hidden Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Turtleback Falls) in one moderately challenging 3.5-mile hike.
But with a total of 26 waterfalls, the northern boundary of Lake Jocassee, a portion of the 70-mile Foothills Trail, and both campgrounds and cabins available, you could easily spend a week exploring the park.
3. Hike to Silver Run Falls
Located 4 miles south of Cashiers, and less than 20 miles from Cashiers Sliding Rock, Dry Falls, High Falls, and Whitewater Falls, Silver Run Falls makes an excellent stop on a Western NC waterfalls day trip.
This 25-foot-tall cascade is truly a gem in the collection of impressive waterfalls in the Nantahala National Forest.
It’s a straight shot on State Route 107 South from Cashiers, and the easy hiking trail from the small parking area is just a 1/2-mile round-trip.
But the ROI is incredible, with the bewitching waterfall plunging over a rock ledge, splashing onto a rock face, and tumbling into an inviting pool surrounding by rhododendrons.
It’s a picturesque setting, and also one of the area’s best swimming holes for the dog days of summer.
4. Lake Glenville Scenic Waterfall Cruises
Lake Glenville easily ranks among the most beautiful mountain lakes in North Carolina. And at 3,492 feet of elevation, it’s also one of the highest lakes east of the Rockies.
Taking a Lake Glenville Scenic Waterfall Cruise with U.S. Coast Guard Master Sea Captain Mark Wise is an amazing way to explore it. All cruises depart from the dock at the Pine Creek Access Area.
Captain Mark offers Lake Glenville cruises on his luxurious 28-foot pontoon boat, which has room for up to 12 guests and a double bimini top that provides plenty of shade.
Wise is an excellent guide with an extensive array of knowledge about the lake and the area’s history. And his 2-hour tours are the only way to see the lake’s numerous waterfalls (which are all surrounded by private property).
You’ll see some truly spectacular scenery along the 15-mile journey, and guests are allowed to bring their own food and drinks on board.
5. Picnic at Cashiers Lake
It’s no surprise that Cashiers Lake is one of the lesser-visited Cashiers NC attractions.
The small lake is tucked back in a quiet neighborhood off State Route 107, and there wasn’t a single other soul there on the sunny September day when we visited.
With major lakes like Lake Glenville (7 miles away) and Lake Toxaway (13 miles away) so close to Cashiers, this little 24-acre lake simply pales in comparison. But, for us, therein lies its charm.
But a controversial proposal by the Cashiers Canoe Club could endanger the health of the local ecosystem by adding a high-density development of 60+ residences. We’ll update this story as news of the proposal develops.
READ MORE: The 20 Best NC Wineries to Visit
6. Sample the Best Cashiers Restaurants
But as a 25-year veteran food critic, let me assure you that there are some excellent restaurants in Cashiers NC that are definitely worth visiting!
Happ’s Place was an awesome place to hang out after our Lake Glenville cruise. A local institution for 40+ years, the family-style restaurant has a great gastropub menu, live music, mini-golf, and lots of room for kids to play.
But our favorite place to eat in Cashiers was Library Kitchen + Bar in Sapphire. Their seasonal, chef-driven menu was truly superb, with some of the best Meatloaf, Elk Tenderloin, and Truffle Mac & Cheese we’ve ever tasted.
7. See Upper Whitewater Falls
Located 13 miles south of Cashiers near the NC/SC border, Upper Whitewater Falls is part of the immensely popular Whitewater Falls Recreation Area.
Whitewater Falls is considered the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies, dropping a total of 800+ feet from the escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains into the valleys of the Piedmont region.
Upper Whitewater Falls features a 411-foot plunging cascade on the North Carolina side, while Lower Whitewater Falls drops another 400 feet on the South Carolina side.
It is possible to do an 8.8-mile round-trip hike to the falls as part of the 85-mile Foothills Trail, which passes through the Recreation Area and into South Carolina.
But the terrain here is very steep and very rugged, so most visitors on the NC side simply take the stairs down to a pair of waterfall overlooks.
Note that there is a $3 parking fee here, but the same pass can also be used for Dry Falls and Whiteside Mountain.
8. Ski Sapphire Valley
Located 3 miles east of Cashiers, the Sapphire Valley Resort was opened in 1964 by Gene Howerdd Jr. His main mission was to create an alternative to the 65-mile drive to the Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley NC.
The ski resort started small, with just two ski slopes, a tow rope, and very basic equipment for making snow. But by 1965 they had added a chair lift, a base lodge, and various other amenities.
Ski Sapphire Valley remains fairly small today, even as the mountain resort community that surrounds it has grown to include an array of upscale shops and gourmet restaurants.
9. Slip ‘n’ Slide at Cashiers Sliding Rock
Located less than 5 miles south of the heart of Cashiers, this Sliding Rock is not quite as tall or as long as the Pisgah National Forest hotspot.
It also has no facilities to speak of, nor does it have an admission charge to visit in peak summer.
What it does have is the refreshingly cool waters of the Chattooga River, a 10-foot-tall natural rock slide, and two fantastic swimming holes (one at the top, one at the bottom).
In short, it’s the perfect place for kids to cool off when the sun’s burning hot, with just a 0.2-mile hike to reach it. Bring your own float and it’s also a fun spot for river tubing!
READ MORE: The 20 Best NC Swimming Holes for Summer
10. Visit the Grimshawes Historic Post Office
Located 5.6 miles from the heart of Cashiers, tucked away in the valley at the base of Whiteside Mountain, you’ll find a tiny wooden hut often billed as the smallest operational post office in the USA.
Today that title is held by the post office in Ochopee, Florida. But the historic Grimshawes Post Office is still worth a visit if you’re interested in the region’s Appalachian history.
The 5-by-6 foot building served the area’s postal needs from 1878 (just over a decade after the Civil War ended) until 1953.
Originally known as Whiteside Cove Post Office, the name was changed in 1909 in honor of postmaster Thomas Grimshawe, who also owned a grist mill in the valley.
After the third class post office closed in 1953, it was used as a ticket booth atop Whiteside Mountain. But it eventually fell into disrepair, and was later restored by local residents and moved to its current spot off Whiteside Cove road.
There’s not much more than a tattered American flag, a wooden chair, and a few historical photos to see here. But the charming little roadside attraction still makes for a great photo op! –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted