Winter adventures await in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains

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Maggie Valley. Photo provided by Visit NC Smokies.

Whether you’re a snowboarder looking to hit the slopes or a hiker willing to brave the cold in search of higher elevations, you’re likely to find a winter adventure in Haywood County. 

Situated amidst the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina, Haywood County is located about an hour-and-a-half from the Upstate and is home to five towns for visitors to explore, including Maggie Valley, Lake Junaluska, Waynesville, Canton, and Clyde. Each town has its own personality and offers a variety of activities to suit everyone, from the casual explorer to the seasoned thrill-seeker.

In this article, we’ve rounded up some winter activities that you and your family can enjoy in Haywood County this year. So leave the hot cocoa and blankets behind and venture outside.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail to Devil’s Courthouse

Photo provided by Visit NC Smokies.

This 4-mile trail will take you through high-elevation woods, meadows, and spruce-fir forests to a cliff-top overlook with 180-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can access the trail by taking Highway 215 south from Lake Logan to the Devil’s Courthouse/Sam’s Knob trailhead. A gravel parking area is 8 miles after the Sunburst campground and picnic area, on the right. The trailhead for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is 0.1 mile back downhill, to your left.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2QBvsD1.

Purchase Knob Hiking Trails

Photo provided by Visit NC Smokies.

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure that combines hiking with stunning mountain views, then Purchase Knob is the place to be. Purchase Knob is a mountain located along the Cataloochee Divide, which serves as the border between Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Maggie Valley and Waynesville areas of Haywood County. It features high-elevation views, historic buildings, and access to a number of trails. That includes a meadow around the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center that provides views of Cold Mountain, Mount Pisgah, Crabtree Mountain, Newfound Mountain, and Mount Sterling.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2sjGcMv.

Mount Sterling Trail

Sun rising over the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Photo Credit: BackyardProduction/iStock

Climbing nearly 2,000 feet in less than 3 miles, this scenic trail will lead you through lush hardwood and evergreen forestry to the summit of Mount Sterling, which towers above the Pigeon River Gorge. Once you reach the summit, you’ll find a rickety, and rusted, 60-foot fire tower that was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935. The Park Service uses the abandoned tower as a radio repeater, but those who are brave enough to climb to the top will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Southern Appalachia.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2Fnv356.

Ice Skating in Maggie Valley

Photo Credit: zsv3207/iStock

With Greenville’s Ice on Main closing in the coming days, you’ll want to check out Maggie on Ice. The Town of Maggie Valley has partnered with the Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce and Haywood County Tourism Development Authority to provide locals and visitors alike with a synthetic ice skating rink. The rink will be located at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds at 3374 Soco Road, Maggie Valley, N.C. It will be open from Friday, Feb. 8, to Sunday, Feb. 17.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2M0QtXd or call (828) 926-0866.

Cataloochee Ski Area

Photo provided by Visit NC Smokies.

Here’s one way to get an adrenaline rush this winter: Strap your feet into a set of skis (or a snowboard) and speed down a steep mountain at the Cataloochee Ski Area. Located in Maggie Valley, the Cataloochee Ski Area features 18 slopes and trails with options for newbies and pros alike. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent gear on-site or at nearby local shops. And if it’s your first time hitting the slopes, you can take a 90-minute lesson that’s taught by local instructors. Once you’re done, you can head to the summit on one of three chairlifts or two carpet lifts. Pricing ranges from $41 on the weekdays to $67 on the weekends.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2SNgtrH

Tube World

Photo Credit: iStock

If you’re not quite ready to hit the slopes at the Cataloochee Ski Area, then you can try your hand at snow tubing right down the road. Located 4 miles from the ski area, across from Ghost Town, Tube World is open through the first weekend in March. The cost for tubing is $25 per person, per session. Sessions last about one hour and 45 minutes and run every two hours. There is a 42-inch minimum height requirement. Children who don’t meet the height requirement for tubing on the larger hill can head over to the Wee Bowl Snowplay Area. Wee Bowl is open on a limited basis as weather and snowmaking allow. The cost is $5 per session. 

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2FoJXrU.

Mountain Heritage Trout Waters

Photo Credit: iStock

Like most fish, trout become increasingly sluggish during the winter. But it’s not entirely impossible to catch a bite when temperatures drop. In Haywood County, anglers can cast their lines in Jonathan Creek in Maggie Valley or Richland Creek in Waynesville. Both are open until the last day of February, but a three-day license must be purchased beforehand since the streams are part of North Carolina’s Mountain Heritage Trout Waters program. The license, which costs $5, can be purchased online at https://bit.ly/1rJRwf3 or by calling (888) 248-6834.

Cold Mountain Game Land

Photo Credit: iStock

While North Carolina’s big-game hunting seasons are over, you can still hunt squirrels and various other critters through the end of February at the Cold Mountain Game Land near Lake Logan. The 3,600-acre property, which is managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, is also home to the Wayne E. Smith Shooting Range. The range is free and open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Shooters are allowed to use pistols, rifles, shotguns, and muzzleloaders on the range, which has five shooting lanes. The range doesn’t have an address, but it is located near Waynesville, about 2 miles past Lake Logan off Highway 215, when traveling from Highway 276.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2RJ9Ol0.

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Want more information about Haywood County?

Visit www.visitncsmokies.com or stop by the Visit NC Smokies Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Road in Maggie Valley for regional brochures, maps, directions, a calendar of events, and public restrooms.

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