About the Mountains


Cullowhee is a Cherokee word that means “the valley of the white lily.” Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Plott Balsams, it is the home of Cullowhee Mountain ARTS as well as Western Carolina University which features a 6.7-mile hiking trail system open to the public. Cullowhee is adjacent to the town of Sylva featuring charming local color, cafés using local grown organic food, evening live music, shopping, local crafts, and a must-see library complex

The Region

Nearby is the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, with impressive vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Only a short distance away is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountain National Parkthe most visited National Park in the US. The mountain region is famous for its hiking, camping, river rafting, kayaking, fishing, wildflower gazing, black bear & elk spotting, and world-class golf courses.  It is rich in Appalachian history, crafts, bluegrass music, mountain vistas, and cascading waterfalls.  For more information on the waterfalls closer to the campus of Western Carolina, click here for downloadable PDF. For an interactive online map on all nearby waterfalls, click here.

Cullowhee is approximately 45 miles west of Ashevillea thriving arts community with downtown galleries, the Asheville Art Museum and the River Arts District where artists’ working studios mingled with galleries and cafés are housed in the abandoned warehouse district of Asheville. Nearby, in Black Mountain is the site of the famous Black Mountain College whose memory is kept alive at the Black Mountain College Museum in downtown Asheville.

You can also visit for more information on local dining and attractions.

Fly Fishing

Jackson County features some of the best trout waters anywhere and is home to the nation’s only fly fishing trail - the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail.

The Trail maps out 15 prime spots to catch brown, rainbow, and brook trout in the crystal-clear streams of the Great Smoky Mountains. Visitors had long recognized Jackson County as a premier destination for fly fishing.

Visit this Fly Fishing Website to see the many trails in the region.