Western North Carolina National Forest Service
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Cliffside Lake and Van Hook Glade Recreation Areas

Seven hiking trails, a six-acre lake and two spectacular waterfalls make Cliffside Lake Recreation Area and Van Hook Campground a mecca for those who enjoy the outdoors. Camp, swim and hike within a two-mile radius.

Day Use

Cliffside Lake Recreation Area offers two covered picnic shelters that must be reserved, a bathhouse with cold showers, a lake for fishing and swimming, a gazebo and six short hiking trails. Some trails lead to waterfalls. Stay is limited to 14 days. To prevent pipes from freezing, the recreation area's water is turned off when the area is closed. No fee is charged in winter.

Day-Use Fee: $4 per car, $16 for season pass. (all fees are subject to change without notice)

To Reserve Picnic Shelter: Call 828-862-5962; small shelter: $25 per half day; large shelter: $35 per half day.


Van Hook Glade Campground's 18 sites have parking spurs, fireplaces, tables and tent pads. Five sites are for tents only, and 16 sites accommodate RV's up to 34 feet. Two sites are accessible. Drinking water and flush toilets are provided within walking distance of each site. A building with two showers and two toilets are inside the loop. Campers may use Cliffside Lake for swimming, fishing. Stay is limited to 14 days. To make reservations, call 877-444-6777 (toll free); TDD: 877-833-6777

Campground Fee: $16 per night. (all fees are subject to change without notice)

Open: April 1 to October 31.

Hike a Short Trail

Van Hook Trail: This 0.5-mile trail is located between Van Hook Glade and Cliffside Lake. An additional 0.5-mile walk is next to a road that leads to Cliffside Lake.

Cliffside Vista Nature Trail: This trail travels one mile through pine-hardwood forest and climbs to a ridge top. Signs give trail descriptions along this trail, rated as more difficult.

Clifftop Vista Trail: This 1.5-mile trail follows the same path as the Clifftop Vista Nature Trail. At the ridge top is a gazebo, the trail offers a panoramic mountain view. After the gazebo, this more-difficult trail continues along the ridge.

Skitty Creek Trail: This 0.5-mile trail runs between Cliffside Lake Road and U.S. 64. The trail leads to Dry Falls. To get to the falls from the trail';s end, take a short walk along U.S. 64. Watch out for cars along this easy trail.

Pott's Memorial Trail: This easy 0.5 mile trail travels to a white pine plantation.

Cliffside Loop: This 0.75-mile trail encircles the lake, passes through the campground, and crosses over the dam and beach area.

Homesite Road Trail: This easy 1.5-mile trail starts near Cliffside Lake Dam, follows Skitty Creek, and connects with a road that meets U.S. 64 halfway between Dry and Bridal Veil Falls.

Points of Interest

Dry Falls: The falls is so-called because you keep dry when walking behind a 75-foot waterfall. Reach Dry Falls by following a 0.1-mile trail from the parking area to the falls. This day-use area is open year-round. Find this waterfall off U.S. 64, 2.5 miles east of Highlands in Cullasaja Gorge.

Bridal Veil Falls: Alongside U.S. 64, Bridal Veil Falls cascades over a rocky cliff, where it forms a pool of water that flows through a culvert beneath the road to Cullasaja River. A pull-off allows autos to drive behind the falls. The waterfall is very popular for sightseers. No fee is charged.

This recreation area is 4.4 miles west of Highlands and then 1.5 miles off U.S. 64. The area offers a picturesque lake that is popular for swimming and fishing, a historic bathhouse with cold showers, and many shady picnic spots. Offering 20 campsites, Van Hook Glade Campground is nearby. Hikers can stretch their legs on one of seven short trails. Choose the easy 0.75-mile loop that circles the lake or enjoy the view along the moderate 1.5-mile Clifftop Vista Trail. At the top is a gazebo built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Calling all Anglers

From Cliffside Lake, anglers may fish the shoreline. To fish Cliffside Lake and nearby streams and rivers, anglers must have a North Carolina fishing license and trout stamp.

Swim in Cliffside

Swimming in Cliffside Lake is a favorite pastime at Cliffside Lake Recreation Area. Bathhouse facilities are available with showers. No flotation devices are permitted on the lake.


for more information:
Nantahala Ranger District:
90 Sloan Roan
Franklin, NC 28734

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