Cashiers, North Carolina

It's one huge rush after another

Inn with a view: grounds of the High Hampton Inn     Photo: Charles Register

COMBINE THE DRASTIC granite dropoffs of the Blue Ridge escarpment with more than 80 inches of rain a year and something dramatic is bound to happen. Around the town of Cashiers (pronounced CASH-ers), perched at 3,500 feet on the Eastern Continental Divide, the jackpot shows up in the form of waterfalls—everything from tiny cliffside seeps to 400-foot-plus cataracts that roar into deep gorges. The downtown is little more than a crossroads, the junction of U.S. 64 and North Carolina 107, and a mile or so radius of antique shops, high-end restaurants, and second-home clusters discreetly tucked into the woods.

OUTDOORS: Hikers can go short, on spur trails to waterfall lookouts, or take on longer segments of the Foothills Trail or the Chattooga River Trail. Fly-fishers and kayakers pilgrimage to the Nantahala, Ocoee, and Chattooga rivers. Panthertown Valley, a 6,700-acre wilderness area, is the closest fat-tire-trail web, and the Tsali Recreation Area, a one-and-a-half-hour drive west, is an off-roader's dream, with more than 40 miles of epic singletrack. The thousand-foot cliffs of Whiteside Mountain provide the kind of hairy, multipitch, huge-exposure climbs that would almost make you swear someone had trucked the place out from Yosemite.
REAL ESTATE: If you can live without a water view or 18 holes, you can find something—an old Appalachian cabin in a hollow, or a two-bedroom condo—for $250,000 or so. But you'll have to comb through humbling rosters of seven-figure properties first.
HANGOUTS: The High Hampton Inn & Country Club, on 1,400 acres, with a lake mirroring Rock Mountain, is all chestnut-rustic, with front-porch rockers (doubles start at $92 per person, including three buffet meals; 800-334-2551, www.highhamptoninn.com). Several pricey restaurants have opened around Cashiers: Wolfgang's, 20 minutes away in Highlands, has a menu that bridges New Orleans and Bavaria.

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