5 Idyllic Mountain Towns that Make Up the NC Smokies


The NC Smokies provide superior outdoor adventures for groups throughout the five quaint mountain towns that make up this idyllic region

Each with its unique appeal, the five mountain towns that comprise the North Carolina (NC) Smokies are all unique in their own rights. Host your family reunion in these charming towns that boast postcard-worthy backdrops of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway. With year-round activities, events, festivals and wildlife abounds, there is plenty to see and do in Appalachian Country.

Mountain Towns of the NC Smokies

Maggie Valley

Maggie Valley in the NC Smokies. Photo courtesy of Jared via Flickr

Located on the fringe of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Maggie Valley is a charming mountain town in the NC Smokies offering a variety of family-friendly activities. Favorites include hiking, fishing, horse riding, ziplining, whitewater rafting and skiing. Maggie Valley also has many family-friendly attractions sure to wow your crowd. For example, the popular Wheels Through Time Museum houses a rare collection of American motorcycles and memorabilia to discover. Additionally, displays will intrigue guests featuring unique American automobiles with exhibits like Military Might and the Chopper Graveyard.

A great place to enjoy the outdoors is Cataloochee Ranch where you can take a tractor-drawn wagon ride through the beautiful landscape. Or enjoy family games like horseshoes, badminton and ping-pong. Other activities for water lovers include swimming and trout fishing. An easy hike takes you to the observation deck at Soco Falls where twin waterfalls cascade down forested terrain.


Cataloochee Valley elk in the NC Smokies. Photo courtesy of Thomas via Flickr

Between the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains, Waynesville affords breathtaking vistas in every direction. Families can explore Frog Level, a declared National Historic District with restored buildings dating back as early as the early 1900s. Downtown is a buzzing hub with art galleries, shops, cafés and restaurants making for a fun day out.

Additionally, the community of Hazelwood is where you can find a statue of the North Carolina state dog, the Plott Hound. There is no shortage of outdoor adventures to be had in Waynesville. Families can go waterfall hiking in the mountains and elk watching in Cataloochee Valley where they freely roam.

Lake Junaluska

Lake Junaluska. Photo courtesy of Warren LeMay via Flickr

Aptly named after nearby Mount Junaluska, the 200-acre Lake Junaluska and its surrounding 1,200 acres of hills and valleys is ideal for family reunions. Known for its nature trails, set off on a group trek along Rose Walk which is lined with fragrant rose bushes. It travels along Lake Shore Drive and the paved Lake Junaluska Walking Trail surrounds the lake with breathtaking mountainscapes.

The lake is also the center of seasonal events and celebrations. This includes the two-day Smoky Mountain Folk Festival, Independence Day at Lake Junaluska and Appalachian Christmas. Bring your group to enjoy parades, concerts, festive music, food and local artisan vendors.


Colonial Theater in Canton. Photo courtesy of Warren LeMay via Flickr

Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on the Pigeon River, Canton is a quaint historic town with fun experiences year-round. Attend a concert, movie or performance at the renovated Colonial Theatre that dates back to 1932. Or enjoy a farm-to-table family meal at the Imperial and Southern Porch housed in a Victorian-style building built in the 1800s.

Families that like festivals will be treated to many in Canton including the Canton Labor Day Festival and the Cold Mountain Music Festival. The celebrations feature musical talent, family-friendly activities and bites and beverages by local food and drink vendors. Enjoy a day of fishing, swimming, hiking and picnicking at the picturesque Lake Logan. In addition, recreational activities like kayaking, canoeing and tubing can be enjoyed on Pigeon River.


Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains. Photo courtesy of Ron Cogswell via Flickr

Families can experience authentic Appalachian culture and Southern charm in Clyde where the mountainous scenery never gets old. Visit the Haywood Community College Arboretum to see species of trees, shrubs and ground covers. While there, discover a rhododendron garden and dahlia garden, a fruit tree orchard and greenhouse. Afterward, drop in at the Shook-Smathers House built in 1795 for a history lesson sure to inspire the group. Or take a kid-friendly hike up to Max Patch for 360-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Another must-visit is Mount Mitchell to see bison, mini horses, mini donkeys, llamas, alpacas, goats and rabbits at Buffalo Creeks Vacation Bison Farm.

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