Chattooga River Cliffs Trail (Upper)

Categories: Hiking & Backpacking, Dog Friendly Hiking Trails, Fishing for Wild Trout, Swimming Holes


  •  Scenic river trail with numerous views of the "National Wild & Scenic" Chattooga River 
  •  Trailhead begins off of Whiteside Cove Road at small parking area
  •  Fairly difficult trail, but well worn path 
  •  Creek crossings 
  •  Ends at the "Iron Bridge" on Bull Pen Road @ 6.25 miles
  •  We recommend this trail for advanced hikers or for those who have the endurance for just over 6 miles

The Local Scoop

From this end of the Chattooga River Trail it isn't as difficult as the lower trailhead on Bull Pen Road due to the fact that you will be following the river down hill for the majority of the way. We would recommend that you schedule to have a car waitng for you or your group at the Bull Pen Road Trail head (see: "Chattooga River Trail (Lower)" directions). This trail is very scenic and once you reach the river, you'll have multiple chances to explore this powerful creation that flows freely all th way into S.C. Bring proper footwear and clothing, as well as your fly rod for some of the best Brown Trout fishing our area has to offer. There are some big ones in this river! Hiking poles or sticks would be beneficial due to some sharp descents on the trail. We would recommend this trail to the entire family, but keep in mind the distance of 6.25 miles, and that's if you heed our suggestion to have a car waiting at the Bull Pen Road trailhead. If you don't, then double the distance for the return trip which puts you at 12.5 miles (uphill all the way back). Stop in for a break on some of the sandy shores when the trail levels out a little at the river for some nice swimming holes. Plan to spend the day on the river and we recommend packing a picnic to enjoy along the way, because you'll need to refuel after your hike!

The Local Directions

From the "crossroads" (U.S. Hwy-64 & N.C. Hwy-107) in Cashiers, NC drive south on N.C. Hwy-107 for 1.7 miles to a Right onto "Whiteside Cove Road". Take this road for 4.2 miles to the trailhead and parking on your Left.  

From main intersection of U.S. Hwy-64/ N.C. Hwy-28 in Highlands, NC drive through main street until the road turns into Horse Cove Road (just past Mountain Fresh Grocery on your Right). Take this winding road down the plateau for 4.5 miles, going through approx. 40 curves on the way down. At 4.5 miles you'll come to a fork in the road with a mileage sign in front of you. From here take the Left onto "Whiteside Cove Road". Follow this half gravel/paved road for 3.5 miles to the trailhead and parking on the Right.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Hike7What's this?
  • Fishing9/5What's this?
Whiteside Cove Rd. Trailhead:  35.065025, -83.122108

Hike Distance
6.25 miles (one way)

Easy access via
Whiteside Cove Rd. Trailhead

Nearest City
Jackson County
Distance From
Highlands, 8 miles
Cashiers, 5.9 miles