Whiteside Mountain

Area Status: Open

A landmark along the Eastern Continental Divide, Whiteside Mountain rises to an elevation of 4,930 feet. The mountain's cliffs look like sheets of ice draped across the mountain. This magnificent rock is about 390 to 460 million years old.

Attractions: A two-mile loop trail climbs above the sheer 750-foot high cliffs and offers outstanding views to the east, south and west. Whiteside Mountain Trail is rated "more difficult" because of its steepness.

Location: Whiteside Mountain is located south of U.S. 64 between Highlands and Cashiers.


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At a Glance

Operational Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Fees: $3/vehicle; $15 annual pass (usable at Dry Falls, Whiteside Mountain, and Whitewater Falls)
Permit Info: Self service fee stations.
Open Season: year round
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: Climbing closures are in effect for the Peregrine Falcon during nesting season. Contact the Nantahala Ranger District Office at 828-524-6441
Closest Towns: Highlands
Water: none
Restroom: vault
Operated By: Nantahala National Forest, Nantahala Ranger District, 90 Sloan Road, Franklin, NC 28734, (828)-524-6

General Information

Directions: From Highlands take US 64E about 5 miles. Turn right on SR1680. Follow signs.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Rock Climbing

Climbing routes near peregrine falcon nesting sites are closed during nesting seasons. 

Day Hiking

A 2-mile loop trail climbs above sheer 750-foot high cliffs and offers outstanding views to the east, south and west. Whiteside Mountain Trail is rated "more difficult" because of its steepness. Along your journey to the top, you can spot a variety of wildflowers-including false Solomons seal, white snakeroot, dwarf dandelion, speckled wood-lily and wood betony.

Viewing Wildlife

During the spring and summer, you may see peregrine falcons flying above or sitting on rock outcrops. Through the endangered species program, the falcon was reintroduced in 1985 to Whiteside Mountain, part of the bird's native range.

From January until summer, peregrines-one of the world's fastest and most beautiful birds-return annually to nest on rock ledges.

Viewing Plants

A variety of wildflowers and different plant communities grow on Whiteside Mountain. The mountain's variety of soils, light and moisture create a mixture of plant habitats.

The north-facing, moist slopes have a northern hardwood forest, where you can walk under yellow and black birch, eastern hemlock and Fraser magnolia trees. Scattered in the forest's understory are witch-hazel, minnie-bush and wild raisinshrubs. On the forest floor, you can discover speckled wood-lily, whitesnakeroot, Curtis' goldenrod and bluets. At the summit is an old-growth northern red oak forest. Notice the red oak's figures. Strong winds and ice storms shaped the trees into twisted  forms. Growing in the forest's understory, you will find serviceberry, false Solomons-seal, wild sarsaparilla, whorled aster, white wood aster and wood betony.

Across the southern slopes is a heath bald shrub community. These clusters of shrubs include Carolina rhododendron and two highly fragrant plants, smooth and clammy azalea.

A fragile rockface community blankets the southern mountain face. Mats of spikemoss and some wild flowers- pale corydalis, dwarf dandelions, gray beard-tongue and graniticdome-goldenrod carpet this dry rocky face.

Viewing Scenery

You can best see the solid rock foundation of this mountain on the south-facing cliffs, where wind and drier conditions limit plant growth. White streaks of quartz and feldspar line the face.

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
2 mile trail

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
4930 ft