Nantahala River (Headwaters)

Categories: Play, Fishing, Fishing for Wild Trout


  •  Valid N.C. Wildlife License required 
  •  Wild Brown, Rainbow and possibly Native Brook trout
  •  Single-hook Artificial bait ONLY 
  •  4 fish limit requiring each to be at least 7 inches 
  •  A chance to catch Gorgeous fish 
  •  Partolled closely by wildlife management
  •  Gorgeous water

The Local Scoop

Mooney Creek & Big Laurel Branch converge as the two main tributaries that make up the Nantahala River. We recommend this area for it's crystal clear water and it's Wild Trout. Having said that, catching those trout can be rather difficult to do. We suggest that you have quite a bit of experience fly fishing if you are going to try this river. We have never had much luck with anything else, especially spinner fishing. If you're thinking, "I'll just use worms or corn," think again.  This area of Standing Indian Basin is heavily patrolled by N.C. Wildlife game wardens and they will right you a hefty ticket.
This area is one of our favorites though and keeping it clean is paramount to us. If you see litter along the road or on the river please take the time to pick it up. The river follows F.R. 67 all the way back to the Backcountry Kiosk located just outside of Standing Indian Campground. Choose from the Standing Indian Campground, Hurricane Creek Primitive Campground & Horse Camp or Kimsey Creek Group Campground to make a nice basecamp for the multiple activities in this area. Fishing, Hiking, Camping, Swimming and Horseback Riding are all possibilities here.

The Local Directions

From Franklin, NC
From intersection of U.S. Hwy-64 W and U.S. Hwy 23/441 North in Franklin, take Hwy-64 W towards Murphy, NC for 12 miles. At just before the 12th mile you should see a Brown sign for "Wallace Gap", "Appalachian Trail" & "Standing Indian Campground" with arrows pointing you towards West Old Murphy Road(SR 1448) on your left. Stay on W.Old Murphy Rd. for 2 miles. You'll pass a Nantahala National Forest Sign for the campground saying "500 Ft Ahead", and at 2 miles you'll be at FR #67 (Forest Road) to your right (indicated by a small, skinny Brown sign at the beginning of the road). Continue 1.8 miles on FR 67 until you come to a fork in the road. To your right will be the entrance to "Standing Indian Campground", avoid the right and continue on FR 67 to the left. In about 0.3 mile the road will turn to gravel at the Backcounrty Info Kiosk. From here, continue on the now gravel FR 67 for 1.4 miles to a pull-off on your right.  There is ample parking and a relatively new bridge making for easy access to the river.  We recommend getting in here and heading upstream.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Fishing6/10What's this?
Moderate via U.S. Hwy-64/
Old Murphy Road/
Forest Road #67 
Nearest City
Macon County
Distance From
Hurricane Creek Campground, 0.7 mile
Standing Indian Campground, 1.7 miles
Franklin, 21.2 miles