Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nantahala River Gorge

We spent Saturday afternoon in and around the Nantahala River in Western North Carolina. We have passed through there on our many trips to Gatlinburg or the Smokies, and seldom stop, as we are usually pulling a camper, or are in a hurry to reach our destination.

In the summertime, this area is full of brightly colored rafts, canoes, and kayaks, the road is full of busses hauling rafters to and from the river, and the atmosphere is one of excitement and adventure.

In the wintertime it is a much different place. The river runs full and clear, with only a few fishermen enjoying the cold water. The road and roadside pulloffs are empty, the parking areas desolate. It is a great time to enjoy the river and surrounding area.

We have seen and read about a trail on the other side of the river and wanted to check it out, so Saturday was the day. We parked at the kiosk and walked across the bridge. The trail followed right next to the river for just a little ways, then went inland, following an old road bed, alongside what looked to be a former cleared field of some sort (the trees were all about the same size, not too big). We soon discovered an old homeplace, marked by two stone chimneys. What a beautiful place for a home, close to the beautiful river, in the bottomland rich for growing food.

We followed the trail on further to another bridge, crossing back into civilization, at the rafting put-in area parking lot. Here in the middle of the parking lot was another chimney, and a sign telling of the history of the area. The former field we had walked alongside had been known as "the Cole Fields", with an apple orchard of 800 trees, and "grape vines that extended as far as the eye could see, the rare mountain vineyard producing 2000 gallons of wine per year."

We explored around the powerhouse, which was built by the Utah Construction Company, completed in 1942. They also built the mountaintop Nantahala Lake and dam, from which the huge pipe comes down the mountain into the powerhouse.

Nantahala River runs for 40 miles, 9 miles through the Nantahala Gorge. The vertical sheer walls are 1000 feet high at some points on each side of the river, with just enough room for a road and railroad following close by the water. We drove along the river, again amazed at how clear the water is, we spotted a waterfall plunging from high up on the vertical face of the gorge wall.

A great day in the mountains, hiking, learning the history, enjoying the natural beauty. Of course, we had to find a few geocaches while we were there.

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June said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Nantahala Village is where I spent many childhood summers. I remember it had cabins and a campground atmosphere compared to the nearby Fontana Village with its luxury accommodations and many available activities. We couldn't afford to go there, and I'm so glad. Nantahala was special. I wonder, does the "village" still exist?

dot said...

Beautiful shots! I especially like the chimney and bridge. Looks a lot like north Georgia to me.

jellyhead said...

Nature, history and an outing in the fresh air all rolled into one! That's my kind of day.

Thanks for the story and photos. Hope you did well with the geocaching, too!

Rick said...

Ok..Juat added this to my list! Thanks!

Kerri said...

Sounds like a perfect day. Love all your snapshots. Exploring Georgia with you is great fun :)

andsewitis Holly said...

Beautiful place. I love places like that with all the history attached. Sounds like a wonderful day to me.