The 10 Best Things to Do in Cashiers NC & Jackson County

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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. 

But Cashiers does have a lot of other attractive elements that make it a popular place for romantic getaways and weekend warriors escaping major cities like Atlanta and Charlotte.

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!

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Visit in North Carolina for 2023


Cashiers NC Map


Best Things to Do in Cashiers NC Guide

  1. Check Out the Village Green of Cashiers
  2. Explore Gorges State Park
  3. Hike to Silver Run Falls
  4. Lake Glenville Scenic Waterfall Cruises
  5. Picnic at Cashiers Lake
  6. Sample the Best Cashiers Restaurants
  7. See Upper Whitewater Falls
  8. Ski Sapphire Valley
  9. Slide Down Cashiers Sliding Rock
  10. Visit Grimshawes Historic Post Office

READ MORE: 20 Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

The Village Green Park in Cashiers NC
The Village Green of Cashiers Park

1. Check Out the Village Green of Cashiers

While there is no downtown area here to compare with NC mountain towns such as Blowing Rock and Bryson City, the Village Green is aptly billed as “The Heart 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. 

There are numerous statues along the way, as well as interpretive signs about local plants and wildlife and chances to photograph native and migratory birds

The Village Green of Cashiers is a great place for an afternoon picnic, and hosts an extensive array of educational and community programs, including their “Groovin’ On The Green” live music series.

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

Couple at Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park near Brevard NC
Couple at Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park

2. Explore Gorges State Park

Our team has visited dozens of the 41 NC state parks over the years, including all of the ones located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC.

Gorges State Park ranks right alongside Grandfather Mountain State Park and Mt Mitchell State Park among our favorites, and the photo above should help illustrate why. 

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. 

READ MORE: Top 15 NC State Parks in the North Carolina Mountains

Silver Run Falls in Cashiers NC
Silver Run Falls

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.

READ MORE: The 50 Best North Carolina Waterfalls to Visit

Lake Glenville Scenic Waterfall Cruises in Cashiers NC
Captain Mark of Lake Glenville Scenic Waterfall Cruises

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. 

READ MORE:  The 20 Best Lakes in North Carolina (Mountains, Coast & Beyond)

Cashiers Lake in Cashiers NC
Cashiers Lake

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.

Cashiers Lake (which feeds into the Chattooga River) has no motorized boats and very little noise. So it’s a perfect place for a picnic, birdwatching, fishing, kayaking, and hiking. 

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

The Library Kitchen + Bar at Sapphire Valley in Cashiers NC
The Library Kitchen + Bar at Sapphire Valley

6. Sample the Best Cashiers Restaurants

Because there’s no central downtown area to speak of, the Cashiers culinary scene doesn’t feel quite as vibrant as NC towns like Asheville, Blowing Rock, Brevard, and Bryson City.

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!

We especially enjoyed the BBQ and Cuban Sandwich from the Cashiers Valley Smokehouse, the pizza and pasta at Slab Town Pizza, and the delightful desserts and coffee at Crossroads Custard & Cold Brew.

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. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Restaurants in Sylva NC & Dillsboro NC

Upper Whitewater Falls near Brevard NC
Upper Whitewater Falls

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.

READ MORE: The Top 20 Waterfalls Near Brevard NC (Transylvania County)

Ski Sapphire Valley NC Skiing Lessons
Sapphire Valley Skiing, photo courtesy Ski Sapphire Valley

8. Ski Sapphire Valley

A perennial favorite among the best places for snow skiing in North Carolina, Ski Sapphire Valley is the southernmost ski resort in the state. 

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.

But they do offer a ski school, snow tubing, snowboarding, a zipline, and fun events such as Great Outhouse Races. 

READ MORE: The 6 Best North Carolina Ski Resorts to Visit

Cashiers Sliding Rock in Cashiers NC
Morning at Cashiers Sliding Rock

9. Slip ‘n’ Slide at Cashiers Sliding Rock

This popular Cashiers NC swimming hole isn’t as well-known as the more famous Sliding Rock near Brevard (one of our favorite Pisgah National Forest waterfalls). 

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

Historic Grimshawes Post Office in Cashiers NC
Grimshawes Historic Post Office

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

Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

The BRMTG was created by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, the award-winning team behind the world-renowned responsible travel website Green Global Travel. Born and raised in North Georgia, Editor-In-Chief Bret Love grew up hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his family. A professional writer/editor since 1995, he's covered travel and culture for 100+ publications, including American Way, Destination Marriott, Georgia Travel Guide, National Geographic, and Southbound. In 2010 he co-founded the award-winning website, Green Global Travel, which is ranked among the world's top travel blogs. Since launching BRMTG in 2020, he and Mary Gabbett have visited 50+ Blue Ridge Mountain towns together. Though she lived in NYC for 14 years, photographer/Business Manager Mary Gabbett's family has Georgia roots dating back 200+ years. Her great-grandfather was President of the Western Railroad of Alabama. Before moving to Atlanta in 1989, she fell in love with the North GA mountains, where her aunt owned a cabin. In 2010 she co-founded Green Global Travel, and has since traveled to more than 40 countries on six continents. Her photos have appeared in numerous travel publications (including National Geographic and Southbound) and various textbooks.