Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway

State: North Carolina
Length: 65 miles / 104.0 km
Time to Allow: 2 hours

North Carolina gets their own byway in the western edge of the state near Georgia and South Carolina. However, the byway takes up 76 miles in a loop, making an impressive day trip. The byways winds through old settlement roads overlooking mountain peaks, waterfalls, and dense forestry. Parts of the byway intersect with the Blue Ridge Parkway making a great segue into another trip. At first, the byway started as just a tiny little 17.6 miles before expanding into a larger loop encompassing more impressive sights.

Start in the south in the town of Rosman, a small town close to the Sassafras mountain. The town includes the Courthouse falls, a gorgeous cascade of water over rock ready for exploration. Stop at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute to learn a little about the sky. The area also offers tours, river rafting, tubing, fishing, and snorkeling too. Make sure to check out Sliding Rock, as you can slide down the rock with the cascading water for a fun adventure.

Move northeast to Brevard, moving loser to the Pisgah National Forest. Find another waterfall, the Connestee Falls, with easy access from the road and impressive beauty. The Slick Rock Falls isn’t far away and offers more incredible views. Next, stop at the Crystal Mountain Gem Mine, where you can find your own gems just like a prospector from the early 1800s, and you can keep everything you find. The town also offers the WNC Military History Museum and several open markets along with a variety of restaurants to suit everyone’s tastes.

The Pisgah National Forest is next with mile-high peaks, large waterfalls, and heavily forested slopes over 500,00 acres. Find camping and picnic spots inside the forest, along with hiking, and mountain biking. Try out one of several trails to make the most of nature and explore everything in the area. Make sure to hike up to Looking Glass Rock for iconic white-granite rock with impressive 360-degree views at the top. It’s free to visit the park, and it’s pet friendly too, so long as your dog stays on a leash.

Loop up toward Bethal with impressive views everywhere, including of Shining Rock. The town offers another military museum before heading down further to Sunburst, NC. It’s home to Lake Logan in a pristine valley in 300 acres. It’s home to spiritual retreats, conferences, and seminars, making it a special place to get closer to nature and spirituality. Rent a cabin replete with a deck, fireplace, and a kitchenette, or rent a private room to enjoy outdoor sports. Sunburst also offers a swimming hole, campground, and a roadside waterfall with a few more hidden in the trees.

End the trip by circling back down to Rosman bordering the French Broad River. Visit one more set of waterfalls, Mill Shoals and Bird Rock Falls, reachable by short hikes. Bikers will love the route as it’s gorgeous going over bending roads and multiple highways. Find beauty like you never imagined on this short byway, ready to bring adventure for the entire family without leaving North Carolina.