Special Places

The National Forests in North Carolina includes national forest lands from the Southern Appalachian mountains to the marshy coast.  Recreation opportunities abound with the richness of the diversity of the land and its history.

Directions to Frequently Requested Places near the Asheville Supervisor's Office.

Cradle of Forestry

The Cradle of Forestry offers a snap shot of life at America’s first school of forestry along the Biltmore Campus Trail. You can also take a picturesque walk along the Forest Festival Trail complete with a restored 1915 logging locomotive, or take a ride with firefighters aboard a helicopter on their way to a roaring fire in the wilds of Idaho in the Forest Discovery Center Exhibit Hall.

Wilderness Areas

The Wilderness Act of 1964 designated portions of federally owned land as Wilderness. By law, these lands are affected primarily by the forces of nature, where natural biological and physical processes are allowed to proceed with little to no human intervention and humans are considered "visitors." National Forests in North Carolina manages over 102,000 acres of Wilderness across all four national forests. 


No motorized equipment or wheeled vehicles are allowed in Wilderness areas, with the exception of wheelchairs. Visiting a Wilderness requires a high degree of self-reliance, as trails are minimally maintained with a limited number of signs, trail blazes, and footbridges. Group sizes are limited to 10.


For more information about Wilderness Areas in North Carolina, CLICK HERE

Scenic Areas

Wild and Scenic Rivers:

Scenic Byways:

  • Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway (Pisgah)

Drive the 79-mile Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway and step back in time. Use your imagination to envision the forest as it was decades ago.

  • Mountain Waters Scenic Byway (Nantahala)

The Mountain Waters Scenic Byway is a 61.3-mile drive that winds through the Nantahala National Forest's two river gorges, hardwood forest and countryside.

  • Cherohala Skyway (Cheoah)

Twisting through scenery that rivals the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Cherohala Skyway crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests connecting Tellico Plains in southeast Tennessee to Robbinsville, NC. The Skyway's name comes from a combination of the two forests (Chero, from the Cherokee and hala from the Nantahala).

Other Special Places

Forest Waterfalls

Image Map for waterfalls tour
Click on a star on the map to view each waterfall area, or follow the links located in the right hand column.

Waterfall Warning

Although beautiful to see, waterfalls can be very dangerous. Every year people fall TO THEIR DEATH after a slip on wet rocks above and around the falls. Never climb around waterfalls or play in the water above a waterfall, or allow pets to roam freely. Stay on the established trails and enjoy the view from the overlooks.

View the Forest

Live Cam At Cold Mountain
Live Cam At Joyce Kilmer

Highlighted Areas

Pisgah Ranger Station/Visitor Center

Pisgah Ranger Station offers a variety of experiences including interpretative trails, day hikes, information on the Pisgah National Forest, and interpretative visitor center.

Sliding Rock Recreation Area

Sliding Rock is a 60 foot natural water slide that ends in a 8 foot deep pool of water, with 2 observation platforms, now operated by Pisgah Hospitality Partners. The area is open 365 days a year but is only staffed with lifeguards and open restrooms from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, 7 days per week from 9 am to 8 pm.  After Labor Day weekend, the area is staffed only on weekends until October 31, weather and water levels permitting. When not staffed, there are no lifeguards and restrooms are closed.

This is a heavily-used recreation area; come early and try to avoid visiting during the peak hours of noon-4 pm. Periodically, the parking area fills up and will be closed until spaces become available. Plan to visit other nearby areas such as Looking Glass Falls or the Cradle of Forestry and come back to Sliding Rock later. 

Sliding Rock may close due to heavy rainfall and high water levels. Picnicking and alcohol are prohibited at Sliding Rock. Picnic at nearby Pink Beds, four miles away. Or, find riverside tables along US 276.

Visitors can call 828-885-ROCK (7625) for information and area status updates. 

For more information, please visit the Pisgah Hospitality Partners website.

Flanners Beach/Neuse River Campground

Located under tall pines and hardwoods, each of the 40 campsites is equipped with a picnic table, fire ring and lantern poles. Two of these sites only allow double occupancy. Electrical hookups are available at 24 sites. The campground offers showers, restrooms, drinking water and a trailer dump station for registered campers’ use.

Users can stretch their legs on an accessible one-mile trail that winds through the mixed pine-hardwood forest near both the campground and picnic area. More than five additional miles are also available to bikers and hikers, but no motorized vehicles or horses are allowed.

This area is subject to closure in advance of hurricanes.  Reservations will be automatically cancelled and refunded in the event of a closure due to hurricanes.  Hurricane season is typically June to mid-November.

For more information, read the Neuse River Recreation Opportunity Guide.

You can also view these maps for the area: Neuse River Campground, Neuse River Recreation Area Overview, and Neuse River Recreation Area ROG.

Cradle of Forestry In America Heritage Site

Nestled below the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Pisgah National Forest is the birthplace of forestry in America - the Cradle of Forestry.

The Cradle abounds with ways to have fun while learning about the forest, traditional Blue Ridge culture, and forest management.

Paved trails - perfect for strollers and wheelchairs - put the forest at your fingertips.

Check out the brochure.

Badin Lake Recreation Area

Badin Lake Recreation Area offers swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, hiking trails, equestrian trails, four-wheel drive trails, mountain biking trails & camping opportunities. Please pick up your trash! Trash cans are at all recreation sites.

Camping in Badin Lake Recreation Area

There are 4 developed campgrounds for tents, camping trailers, & RVs with flush toilets and showers & 1 tent only campground within the Badin Lake Recreation Area. There are 2 campgrounds with electricity, flush toilets, showers & a dump station. Arrowhead Campground has 48 sites with electrical hookups at sites 12-45. These sites have 50 amp, 30 amp & 110 volt outlets. Sites 1-11 & 46-50 do not have power.  Canebrake Horse Camp has 28 sites available to the public. All sites have electrical hookups with 50 amp, 30 amp & 110 volt outlets. This campground has amenities for horse use but is not exclusive to horseback riders. Some of these horse amenities are a horse washing station, hitching posts, tack tables & direct access to the trails. 

Badin Lake Campground offers 34 sites for tent, camping trailer or RV camping. There are several campsites on the lakeshore of Badin Lake which can be accessed via boat, canoe, or kayak.  This campground offers flush toilets, showers & drinking water hydrants. There is no electricity and no dump station at this campground. Badin Lake Group Camp offers 3 sites for up to 50 people each. There are flush toilets, vault toilets, showers & 3 drinking water hydrants. There are no electrical hookups and there is no dump station.  This campground is available by reservation only.

To make reservations for any of the above listed campgrounds please call Recreation.Gov at 877-444-6777; TDD: 877-833-6777; International: 518-885-3639; or go to www.recreation.gov.

The last campground in the Badin Lake Recreation Area is called Uwharrie Hunt Camp. This campground is rustic. It has 8 tent only campsites that can be accessed by a very short walk from the parking lot.  There are 2 vault toilets & drinking water hydrants.  Each site has a tent pad, picnic table, fire ring, grill, & lantern post. 

Recreating in the Badin Lake Recreation Area

The Badin Lake Recreation Area offers many recreational opportunities. There are 17 miles of Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) or motorized trails available for dirt bikes, ATVs, and full-sized 4-WD vehicles with the purchase of a trail pass.  Primitive camping or dispersed camping can be done along the trails & at the Art Lilley Campground that is located in the Badin Lake OHV Trail Complex. 

Additionally, there are approximately 40 miles of non-motorized trails available for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. These trails range from easy to difficult as they traverse beautifully wooded areas, rocky outcrops, the Uwharrie River & many of its tributaries.   

The Cove Boat Launch is located on Cove Road near Arrowhead Campground & offers access to Badin Lake for trailered boats. There is a vault toilet. There are 2 day use areas for picnicking & fishing. The King's Mt. Point Day Use Area offers 34 picnic sites, a picnic pavilion, 4 accessible fishing piers and 4 vault toilets & 2 flush toilets. Holt's Picnic Area is more rustic with a vault toilet, fishing from the shore, grills & picnic tables available.