On arriving in North Carolina some of my first hiking decision were disastrous. I selected trails far above and beyond my knowledge and abilities, trusting to beginners luck to get through my adventure in one piece. If I was to offer you any advice, Id say not to begin your journey as I did. In hindsight, I would say this trail would be the perfect place to begin. Safe, simple to access, pretty, and most important, beginner friendly.
Whiteside Mountain, a series of trails with a fantastic view, is a fantastic place to begin your hiking adventures. Located in the Nantahala National Forest in Jackson County, the trail is well used and clearly marked. The trails are not so steep that a newbie will feel overwhelmed and long enough (about two miles) that an avid hiker will still feel they have accomplished something. The curving trails boast beautiful foliage and the view from the top is absolutely gorgeous. A panoramic view of the valley below and the mountains beyond.
Some trails are a little unnerving to travel alone; this is not one of them. There was a steady flow of people hiking the entirety of my visit. Your puppy is also welcome on the hiking trail, though you are asked to please pick up after them. Not everyone is as respectful of the parks as one would like, so I would warn you to watch your step for gifts left by our furry friends.
The trails are maintained by the Parks service, and there is a parking lot at the bottom. Quick heads up, you will be asked to pay to park! I believe I only had to pay three dollars, so in planning your trip make sure to throw a little cash into your backpack. Remember to bring your own water, on my venture the water fountain at the bottom was closed for repairs. I also did not find a bathroom which was open to the public, so I’d suggest making a quick stop at the gas station to address any bladder needs before arriving!