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Two backpacks sit on the ground with rows of mountains framed in a golden sunset under a cloudy sky.

Are you looking for a fresh vacation full of outdoor adventure and scenic exploration? Haywood County provides a unique outdoor experience unlike anywhere else. No matter the season, you can always enjoy a variety of mountain adventures right here in Haywood County.

The county is home to a 46-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway running along its southwestern border and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including historical Cataloochee Valley and the Pisgah National Forest in the northern section of the county.

Haywood County offers a wide range of recreational activities including hiking, skiing, fishing, kayaking, farm fresh food, elk watching, mountain music and historical hot spots. The area is also known for its many unique and exciting events throughout the year, so no matter when you visit, there are sure to be some homegrown happenings taking place.

Take a Hike Outdoor Itinerary (printable version)

DAY ONE

Tour the Blue Ridge Parkway
The 46 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway that run through Haywood County are one of the most popular attractions in the area. After breakfast head to the Parkway entrance just outside of Maggie Valley (enter at MP 455.7 from US Hwy 19 at Soco Gap) and head north toward Canton for an exquisite drive through the Balsam Mountain Range, which is where Haywood’s native bluegrass band, Balsam Range, got the inspiration for their name. Stop and stretch your legs at two of the county’s most popular hiking areas, Graveyard Fields and Devil’s Courthouse, which are sure to inspire you as well!

Skinny Dip Falls
Cool down this afternoon at a local swimming hole, Skinny Dip Falls. Accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway, park at the Looking Glass Rock Overlook near Milepost 417. A moderate, short hike will take you to a natural waterfall and swimming hole on the Yellowstone Prong of the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River. Take a cool dip or sun yourself on the rocks. If you continue on the trail past Skinny Dip Falls on the Mountains to Sea trail, you will reach Graveyard Fields, where you will find more hiking trails and waterfalls. After the devastating flood event on August 17, 2021 that washed away the bridge and totally rearranged the stream topography, the Mountains to Sea Trail to the falls area is currently not safe for entry and is closed to hiker access.

Check Out Our Craft Breweries!
You must be getting thirsty! Haywood County is the proud home of four microbreweries: Boojum Brewing, BearWaters Brewing, Frog Level Brewing, and Tipping Point Brewery and Tavern. Each has its own distinct taste, so spend the afternoon at one (or more) trying their various taps. Order up a frosty flight and don’t forget to grab a growler of your favorite to take home.

Three full beer glasses sit on a labeled flight board.

DAY TWO

Mountain Heritage Trout Waters
They say the early bird gets the worm . . . well, so do the trout! Purchase an inexpensive three-day fishing license to fish in the designated Mountain Heritage Trout Waters in Waynesville and Maggie Valley. This special three-day license can be purchased online at www.ncwildlife.org or by telephone Monday– Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. at (888) 248-6834. Did you forget your fishing pole and tackle box? No worries! Stop by the Haywood County Visitor Center in Maggie Valley and pick up a free tackle box filled with six lures/flies and you can borrow either a fly rod or a spinner rod.

Purchase Knob Hike
Swing by the Haywood County Visitor Center in Maggie Valley and pick up a Purchase Knob Hiking Guide. This beautifully illustrated map was created by a local certified naturalist and highlights one of Haywood County’s best hiking gems. Purchase Knob, located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offers a wide range of biodiversity and other appealing aspects all encompassed in a four-hour or less walk. Its winter accessibility, summer butterfly and wildflower abundance, and amazing panoramas make Purchase Knob the perfect hike. The grade ranges from Easy to Moderate.

Cataloochee Valley
Spend your evening with an adventure to see the reintroduced elk of Cataloochee Valley, most visible during dawn and dusk. The valley is one the most remote parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is rich in mountain history and beauty. The area is laced with abundant wildflowers and wildlife including elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkey, butterflies and many species of birds. The tranquil scenery is sure to inspire the inner artist in everyone. With several hiking trails, streams for fishing (make sure you have a valid fishing license) and preserved buildings from the early 1900s, there is plenty to explore in the valley.

A bull elk grazes in front of three cows in his harem in a grassy field in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

**Note**
The above itinerary is a SAMPLE. Other attractions and activities can be substituted based on your preferences and the current season to create a unique itinerary for your next visit.

Restaurant Suggestions – Haywood County is home to such a wide range of locally owned and operated restaurants that we couldn’t just pick a few! From casual, down-home eateries and takeout to gourmet, fine dining and everything in between, we have it all here in Haywood County.