County North Carolina
in North Carolina
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Nantahala National Forest
Cheoah Ranger District
U.S. Forest Service Home Page
The Cheoah Ranger District Headquarters of the United States Forest Service is located
about 2.7 miles outside Robbinsville. From the junctions of U.S. Highway 129 & Highway
143 east in Robbinsville, take Highway 129 north for 1½ miles to the junction with
Highway 143 west (Massey Branch Road). Turn left and proceed west on Highway 143 for
approximately 1¼ miles to the Cheoah District Ranger's Office. Turn right into Ranger
Headquarters and park in the visitors parking lot. There are picnic tables and restrooms.
Be sure to visit the Ranger's Office during business hours. They have a large selection of
information bulletins and an excellent selection of books on nature studies.
The Cheoah District office is open every day from April
15 to late October. Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9:00
a.m. to 5:30 p.m. From November 1 to April 14, office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00
a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest, North
Carolina is administered through this office. Mail may be addressed to:
Cheoah Ranger District
Lauren Stull, District Ranger
1070 Massey Branch Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771
For reservations and fees: Contact
the district office at the above address and telephone numbers. Reservations should be made
about 3 weeks in advance.
The following is general information concerning the
facilities available in this district.
Cheoah District administers 5 campgrounds (4 family camp- grounds and 1
group campground). Facilities common to all areas are:
- Approved drinking water
- Central refuse containers
- Toilet facilities
- Camping unit, which includes tent pad, fireplace, picnic table, and
All the areas are in the proximity of a lake, with
boating access within ¼ mile of the area, except in the case of Horse Cove Campground
which is about 2 miles away from a boat ramp. Rattler Ford is the group campground and is
located about 2½ miles away from a boat launching area. All are fee areas, for
reservations and fess call the Cheoah Ranger District Headquarters. Reservations for
Rattler Ford need to be made at least 3 weeks in advance. The other campgrounds are
operated on a first come, first serve basis. Payment can be made daily, or for a longer
specified time. Rattler Ford campers are billed in advance for the camping fees. There is
a 14 day limit in each area between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
- Tsali Recreation Area -
Located about 17½ miles northeast of Robbinsville, off of Highway 28 near Fontana Lake.
Total of 41 camp units with flush toilets and showers. Thirty-eight miles of trails lie
adjacent to the campground and are designed for mountain biking and horseback riding.
Tsali is approximately 9 miles from the Nantahala Gorge, famous for rafting and other
- Cable Cove Recreation Area
- Located about 15¼ miles from Robbinsville in the northwest part of Graham County, about
3 miles from Fontana Dam on Highway 28 North. Total of 26 camping units with low volume
flush toilets. About 3 miles to the Appalachian Trail entrance to the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park.
- Cheoah Point Recreation Area -
North of Robbinsville,
NC about 6 miles on U.S. Highway 129. Total of 26 camping units with low volume flush
toilets. Located on Santeetlah Lake.
Horse Cove Recreation Area -
About 13 miles northwest
of Robbinsville and adjacent to the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness. Two routes of entry
- either south of Santeetlah Lake past the Cheoah Ranger Office, or north of Santeetlah
Lake accessed from U.S. Highway 129. Total of 17 camping units with flush toilets.
Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness
- Camping is
permitted anywhere in the wilderness, except the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and picnic
area. Access routes are the same as for Horse Cove Campground. There are no developed
camping facilities within the wilderness area which allows only backpack style camping. No
charge for camping in this area and permits are not required at this time. Six trailheads
provide parking and access from various points. Citico Creek Wilderness lies west of and
borders on the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness.
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
- This renowned 3800 acre virgin forest, is a part of this 17,000 acre wilderness. Joyce
Kilmer National Recreation Trail makes a two mile loop to the memorial for Joyce Kilmer,
author of the poem "Trees".
The campgrounds usually open around April 1st
and close at the end of October.
CAMPGROUNDS AND RECREATION AREAS
Campgrounds are open April to October. All
have drinking water and will accommodate trailers, although no hookups are available.
||Near Fontana Lake; 38 miles of multi-use trails
||Near Lake Fontana
||On Lake Santeetlah
||In winter, no water or fee
GROUP CAMPING AREA - By reservation only.
Rattler Ford Group Campground:
four sites, for up to 50 people per site. Facilities: flush toilets, hot showers,
horseshoes, volleyball, fishing, and hiking. Open mid-April to late October, call for
current fees schedule.
For reservations and fees: Contact the district office at Route 1 Box 16A,
Robbinsville, NC 28771-9706, 828-479-6431. Reservations should be made about 3 weeks in
advance. The telephone numbers are 828-479-6431
and FAX 828-479-6784.
General Forest Area
Much of the general forest area is available for primitive camping
with a 14 day limit at one location. However, no facilities are available. Many areas in
the Big Santeetlah and Big Snowbird drainage are popular. No charge is made for camping
outside the developed areas.
- Picnicking - There are 5 small developed picnic areas:
Snowbird, Joyce Kilmer, Cheoah Point, Cable Cove and Tsali Recreation Areas. Snowbird is
on Kilmer Road (State Road 1127) on the route to Horse Cove. Joyce Kilmer is located at
the parking area off the Joyce Kilmer Memorial trail. The picnic area at Cheoah Point is
off Highway 129, approximately 6 miles north of Robbinsville.
Camping in not permitted in picnic areas. Areas are
free and open all year.
Toilets may be closed during winter.
|Name of Area
||Located beside Snowbird Creek. Short loop trail is across the road.
||Adjoins Memorial Forest
||Adjacent to Tsali trail head
||Near Memorial Forest and Cherohala Skyway
- Wilderness and Backpacking - Only one
wilderness is in the Cheoah Ranger District, the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness which
lies both in North Carolina and Tennessee. It covers 17,000 acres and has over 65 miles of
hiking trails. The Citico Creek Wilderness to the west covers 15,891 acres and has over 55
miles of hiking trails.
- The Big Snowbird Area - An undeveloped
area, it contains many miles of old railroad bed which makes for good hiking. There are
10,000 acres of undeveloped forests at the head of this drainage.
- The Appalachian Trail - The AT crosses the
District and borders on the rim of the Nantahala Gorge. There are 27 miles of the At in
the Cheoah District.
- Maple Springs Observation Point
- A short
900 foot loop trail designed for use by those with special needs incorporating an
observation deck. It is located on Kilmer Road (State Road 1127) approximately 4.5 miles
beyond the entrance to the Joyce Kilmer Recreation Trail/Picnic Area.
- Lewellyn Cove Nature Trail
- A ¾ mile hiking trail off of Highway 28 about one mile from Fontana Dam. This trail has
numerous species of trees and shrubs identified along with information about that
- Massey Branch Fitness Trail
- A ½ mile jogging trail with exercise stations. Located adjacent to the Ranger Station
near Robbinsville. Designed for the jogger, but offers scenic views for the casual hiker.
- Snowbird Loop Trail - A
short loop trail along the Snowbird Creek and through a virgin stand of hemlock and
hardwood. Immediately across the highway from the Snowbird Picnic Area.
- Tsali Recreation Area - In
addition to the campground itself, there is a nearby boat launch facility and 38 miles of
trails which are multi-use in nature, for the benefit of mountain bikers, horseback riders
or they may be used as hiking trails. One part of the trail system is referred to as the
Right Loop and the Left Loop and covers 22.9 miles. The other segment of the trail system
is known as the Thompson Loop Trail and the Mouse Branch Loop Trail and covers 15.4 miles. A trail use
schedule is posted so mountain bikers and horseback riders will be aware which segment is
available to them. Both parts of the trail system are always available for foot travel.
Attractions of the Cherokee Mountain area as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National
Park add to the popularity of the Tsali Recreation Area.
- Fontana Dam - The dam is maintained and administered by
the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Visitors are welcome to the observation area at the
top of the dam or take a tour through the lower level. Any further inquires about these
facilities should be directed to TVA, Fontana Dam, NC 28733, or telephone 828-498-2241.
- Fishing - The Cheoah District has 4 lakes within or
adjacent to its boundary. All of which provide some type of good fishing at some point
during the year. These lakes are Fontana, Santeetlah, Cheoah and Calderwood. There are
also a large number of mountain trout streams within the district. Lake fishing is
permitted year-round; trout fishing all months except March. Licenses and permits required
are varied. For additional information, contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources
Commission, 512 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27604, or telephone
- Hunting - Much of the district provides some type of
hunting. For specific information on seasons, licenses, etc., contact the
Wildlife Resources Commission, 512 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27604, or telephone
888-248-6834. For those who prefer to visit the area during the season when there is no
hunting, the best time would be between May and October 1.
- Unattended Vehicles - Questions are often asked about
leaving vehicles unattended while backpacking and camping in the National Forest. No
absolute assurance can be made that vehicles will not be disturbed. Lock your vehicles and
put valuables out of sight to reduce the chance of forced entry. Should an incident occur,
be sure to inform the ranger office and the Graham County Sheriff's Office immediately.
- Emergency Telephone Numbers:
|EMERGENCIES - Fire,
|Graham County Sheriff's
|Graham County Rescue Squad
|Graham County Emergency
|District Ranger's Office
- Maps/Brochures and Other Printed Information
- Of the materials and maps available through this office, some are free items and some
have different prices. Free items will be sent to you when they appear to relate to your
inquiry. Should you need this material prior to your travel, you may place orders at the
address listed below.
- Available Items:
- Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest Brochure - No Charge
- Directory of National Forest Recreation Areas in North Carolina - No
- Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock & Citico Creek Wilderness Map - Call for
- Snowbird Area Trail Map - Call for price
- Nantahala National Forest - Call for price
- Upper Tellico Off-Road Vehicle Area - Call for price
- Appalachian Trail in the Nantahala National Forest - Call for price
Cheoah Ranger District
Lauren Stull, District Ranger
1070 Massey Branch Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771
The above information is provided by the
United States Forest Service, Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest.
Arts and Crafts
Information Emergency Services Family Resources Fontana Dam
Forestry Facts Genealogy General Information
Hiking/Camping History Local Color Library
Map of Graham Co. Media
N.C. Forest Service
Real Estate Swan Cabin
Sheriff's Department Travel & Tourism
U.S.F.S. District HQ
U.S. Forest Service Utility Services Weather Forecast Wildflowers
These pages are from the people of Graham County, North Carolina.
For additional information on Graham County Adventures
the Travel and Tourism Authority
go to the Visitors Information Center
of the Travel and Tourism Authority Webpage
call 1-800-470-3790 or 828-479-3790 Fax 1-828-479-4733
This page is maintained by Tom Livingston, Robbinsville, North Carolina