Looking to explore the Nantahala area that exists outside of your vacation rental and bring the kids along for the fun? Well, there’s no need to need to search any longer. We put together some of the best trails within the Nantahala National Forest area great for all skill levels. There are also a variety of Nantahala vacation rentals that will get you closer to the adventure than ever before. Stay in a cozy cabin by the water where you can store your kayak or rent a large house for the entire family.

1. Whiteside Mountain National Recreation Trail

This trail is located closer to Highlands, NC, and is a great scenic trip to take after a long day with the kids. Bring a picnic basket along on this 2-mile loop hike and enjoy a snack surrounded by beautiful wildflowers. If your kids are into animals they can try bird watching or bring the dog along for an even more fun adventure. For an easier hike, stay to the left of the trail when it splits to go around the loop the back way. This trail usually takes around an hour to just get through, but many people easily get swept away in the beauty of the forest!

2. Upper Whitewater Falls Trail

This trail is currently planning to reopen in July after it had to close due to fire damages. Once it reopens, it is a must-visit hike for you and the family. This 1.7-mile hike is perfect for people of all ages and skill levels and features beautiful views of a waterfall. Hike this trail at sunset to enjoy the beautiful colors in the horizon over the waterfall, either along the paved road of the trail or up the stairs for an even closer view. Between the hike itself and the time you spend enjoying the falls, this hike can take a few hours so be sure to allot yourself enough time to really take in the view. Dogs are allowed along the trail as long as they are on a leash.

3. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest Loop Trail

One of the easiest trails in the park, the Joyce Kilmer trail is also probably one of the most enjoyable. Towering poplar trees cover the 1.8-mile trail and beautiful wildflowers follow along with the pathway. See if your kids will be able to spot some cool wildlife in the area including a snake or a bird or two! There’s also a nice creek you’ll pass along the way so be sure to take it all in and enjoy a quick break from all the vacation planning.

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4. Devil’s Courthouse and Black Balsam

Devil’s Courthouse is a quick 1-mile hike to a lookout above Blue Ridge, where you can observe rare high-altitude plants and look over at the jagged mountain where the “devil holds court,” according to myths. For a more relaxing place to view this scenery head along the Black Balsam Knob, where you can enjoy a picnic in the grassy meadows throve Balsam Grove. Both hikes will only take about half an hour, so plan some fun activities for when you reach your ending point!

5. Huckleberry Knob Trail

This two-mile hike has beautiful 360-degree views of beautiful mountains and flowers. The trail itself is actually an old road making it easy to follow and stay on course. Don’t forget to bring your camera along for the hike to capture the natural beauty as butterflies and bumble bees fly around you during your walk. Ten minutes into the trail there’s a beautiful panoramic picnic spot, so pack lunch for the family and grab that picnic basket and blanket! You’re also welcome to bring your dog along for the hike, as long as it stays on a leash.

6. Ranger Falls Trail

For a little bit of an up-tempo hike, you should check out Ranger Falls. This two-mile hike features a beautiful waterfall that takes about half and hour to get to. After the waterfall, the trail gets a bit more difficult and it’s advised that you go on this hike during the morning or afternoon to avoid getting lost. There are a variety of beautiful views along the trail from flowers to mushrooms so bring your camera along and take pictures of the kids exploring the outdoors!

7. Rufus Morgan Trail

While this trail in its full length is about five miles long, the trip to the waterfall is about half the distance. All along this trail the forest floor is covered in wildflowers including blooming rhododendrons, flame azaleas, and mountain laurel. Visit in the fall where just being by the creek and hearing the sounds of the water flowing will be enough to relax you from a long day’s work. The entire trail is very easy and fun for the entire family no matter how young or old. If you’re feeling up for it bring along a picnic basket and enjoy a nice meal near the Wayah Bald Lookout Tower!

8. Lake Toxaway Area Waterfalls

The Lake Toxaway Area Waterfalls are a great place to go for a nice relaxing walk before sunset. Whether you decide to walk for 15 minutes or an hour, the waterfalls line the entire area and are breathtaking. The sound of cascading water will be enough to help you and the family wind down for the day and the kids will enjoy being able to see so many different waterfalls at once! There are a few short platforms along the trail that allow you to stop and look at the falls, however picture opportunities are rare due to the vast amounts of condos in the area.

9. Foothills Trail – Whitewater River

The Foothills Trail is a 77-mile-long trail that can be broken up anyway you want to. This trail is perfect for a day or evening hike because of the calming sounds of the rushing river, but you can also stop for a quick swim with the family. If you aren’t up for much hiking, the Whitewater River is a great place to stop and fish, have a picnic or even just relax and observe the wildlife surrounding you. Feeling more adventurous? See how far along the trail you can go until you get tired. Some people plan it out and go through all 77 miles in five days!

10. Hooper Bald

This easy trail is perfect for an end of the day walk with the family. Only 1.2 miles long, this trail offers beautiful views of local wildflowers and calming scenery. Try out some bird calls or plan a nice picnic dinner for the family. You can even bring the dog along for a nice walk! Once you reach the top of the trail you’ll be amazed by the view. The trail is very well marked and easy to find, making it a great place to stop for a short but fun walk after a long day around the house.

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