Lake Hiawassee in Cherokee County NC
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Hiwassee Lake and the Unicoi Mountains

To some it's a hidden treasure; to others it's a mystery. In the northern section of Cherokee County there's a place that most county residents aren't much aware of, a place where some visitors have never heard of, and to those living there full time or those escaping away to it's a secret location, it's a secret they'd rather keep amongst themselves.

To the mountain community residents of Cherokee County in the first half of the 20th century, it was a well-needed construction project, created by the Federal Recovery Program during the Great Depression. The Tennessee Valley Authority managed and developed the project. When completed in 1940, as a flood control and electric power dam, Hiwassee Lake would cover 6,090-acres, 22-miles in length, 180-miles of shoreline and as much as 200-ft deep in places. The waters of Hiwassee Lake are fed by the Hiwassee River, Valley River and Nottely River.

The lake is a long channel lake that's much broader in some areas than others. As a recreation lake the Hiwassee Lake is all about catching striped bass, yellow perch, bluegill, and muskie to boot. It's also about pontoon cruising, boating, canoing and kayaking on the quiet blue lake's gentle surface, or maybe just skipping a river stone counting the jumps. That's just about what an average day is like during the high water season.

Hiwasse Lake DamThe dam area on Hiwassee Lake near the northern end of the lake offers an impressive view of some of the lake's shoreline and surrounding mountains. The dam is 307-feet, a mammoth structure and is considered the highest overspill dam in the world.

One of the reasons for Hiwassee Lake's secrecy is its geographical location just northwest of the town of Murphy. The lake area is in a more wilderness land than most mountain lakes though it is populated and most of the roads are paved. Steep foothills clog this lake region where Hiwassee River flows in the northwestern parts of Cherokee County. Past the dam the Hiwassee Lake becomes a river again for a short distance then feeds into the much smaller Appalachia Lake before continuing on as the Hiwassee River in the Tennessee Valley. The Appalachia Dam is a stroll to the North Carolina, Tennessee border.

Hiwassee LAkes and Unicoi MountainsFrom the northeast to the northwest an enormous mountain range rises from the lake's surface to the highest mountains in the region. The Unicoi Mountains reach a height of 5,390-feet at Santeetlah along the Unicoi Crest. The mountains you see from the lake's surface are mere babes compared to the ones rising above your viewing point.

This mountainous region is the very back door to the Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains, a trade route that was even ancient to the Cherokee people's ancestors. The Unicoi Turnpike it was called by the white eyes, which first discovered it as a secret route. To the Cherokee it was the Trade Path, a trail that stretched across the width of the southern Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains from South Carolina to the Tennessee Valley, following it most of the way along the Hiwassee River from its headwaters in northwestern Georgia. A low gap along the western mountain range of the Unicoi Mountains on the western edge of Cherokee County was called the Unicoi Gap, a key link in the Trade Path or Northwest Passage trade route as it was also known. It was also well known as a direct route for Cherokee War Parties.

Unicoi Gap RoadToday, Cherokee County's Joe Brown Highway follows the old Unicoi Turnpike along the northwestern shoreline of Hiwassee Lake. Names like Hanging Dog Mountains and Boiling Springs don't nearly match the rugged terrain of these steep mountains and foothills. There's a beautiful, almost remote mountain valley community called Unaka near the end of the "paved" Joe Brown Highway/Unicoi Turnpike. The valley has seen travelers since prehistoric time. Unaka is the ancient Cherokee name that unifies nearly the entire eastern mountain ranges along the eastern Tennessee Valley.

Up ahead and beyond the picturesque community of Unaka Valley, just north of Hiwassee Lake Dam, is where Joe Brown Highway loses its pavement and becomes more like the old Unicoi Turnpike. If you don't mind some dust or some bumps in the road and if you're personally looking for a place to say to yourself, "where in the heck am I?" the Unicoi Turnpike could be calling your name.

Unicoi Gap RoadThe forestry road along the turnpike seems to twist and turn without end. Though the mountains to the north are large and impassable, the foothills to the south and west where the turnpike travels are low and steep making for a difficult terrain to maneuver through. It's as though the ancient mountains washed out here and left all this debris you have to climb over, not necessarily the forest road itself, I'm referring to it geographically and metaphorically difficulty, impossible without the roadway or well worn trail. To be more accurate, it's only a forestry road in the 21st century, not a narrow trading path of the 18th century.

You barely notice the gap when you cross over it from North Carolina and into Eastern Tennessee. A marker along side the road on the west side of the gap tells the history of the Unicoi Gap and Turnpike. This piece of the turnpike has actual historic trail sections, untouched since its discovery. Here the trail zigzags back and forth across the old forestry road. This ancient path shows what the trail really looked like and is being preserved and maintained on the Tennessee side of the Unicoi Gap.

You can hike these same short sections of the narrow path that took a company of roughly 200 British troops and others met their fate after being forced to leave Fort Loudoun in the 1757's. These rugged and preserved trail paths are in their natural state along this mountainous trade route, having seen a lot of fur trappers, explorers, frontiersmen, settlers shoes and boots along with centuries of Cherokee moccasins on either peace missions, trading expeditions, and sometimes on the warpath.

The ancient trade route eventually became the road that took the Cherokee people from their homelands, an era had ended, and a new one began.

Unicoi Gap Trail

The British troops are gone from the Unicoi Mountains now as the newly formed American settlers moved in to stay, so did some of the Cherokees who avoided roundup during the tragic Trail of Tears.

Just to the north of the county seat of Murphy, there are still lands within the Hanging Dog Mountain region that are owned by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee along with a section of land on the east side of Murphy. Cherokee County likely has the second largest population of eastern tribal members outside of the Cherokee Boundary in northeastern Swain County, North Carolina. It's their home and always has been, and is not a public attraction like parts of the Qualla Boundary in the town of Cherokee in Swain County.

The history of Cherokee County is still recording the lives of those Cherokee whose ancestors didn't take the long journey, rather stayed and took their chances here in their ancestral homelands, instead of risking their lives and happiness by going west, where the Western Band of Cherokee reside today.


Blue Ridge Highlander's Gallery

Highlander Fine Arts, Authentic Mountain Photography and Fine Crafts

The Highlander Gallery
When you are visiting the Blue Ridge - Smoky Mountains, a stop by the Highlander Gallery is well worth your time. The Highlander Gallery represents some of the finest artists in the mountains.  With a large assortment of Fine Art Photography and Fine Crafts as well.

Here are a sampling of the artists you will find....Anthony Abreu • Michael Bedoian • Juanita Greenspan • Linda Thompson • Tonya Fowler • Jason Fowler • Chris Jones • Les Smith • Chuck Waldroup • Joe Waldroup • Billy Reynolds • Randy Rowe • Thomas Payne •  Frances McCord • Rita Poole • Clive Poole • Marla McCormick • Don Milsaps

Wednesday - Saturday 11:00 ish - 5:00 ish
10079 Old Highway 64  •  Brasstown, NC  • 828.835.9982  •

Food & Drink in Murphy NC

Parson's Pub in Historic Downtown Murphy NC
Lunch •  Dinner • Great Beer

The Parson's Pub
We believe in old fashioned, face to face, friendly conversation. You will not find any televisions or loud music. Just a warm place to feel at home and enjoy...

We pride ourselves on our extensive beer menu (over 50!). Talk to one of our "Beervangelists" to help you try a new favorite! If you request a beer we do not carry, we will attempt to get it!

Monday - Saturday    11 am - 10 pm
19 Tennessee Street • Murphy, NC 28906 • 828-837-4151  •  Parson's Pub Web Site

Menu    Become a Beervangelist    Facebook

White Water Rafting Mountains

Rafting on the Ocoee River

White Water Rafting on the Ocoee
The Ocoee River is often described as the roller coaster of the southeast. Come experience what has been called the greatest white water center in the world.

Professional river outfitter with over 30 years experience. Our safety record is unsurpassed in the industry. We believe our staff is simply the best in the business. Guides are chosen for their character and enthusiasm for sharing the outdoors with you.

Call today to start your adventure...828-835-3275  •

Rafting on the Nantahala River

White Water Rafting on the Nantahala

Experience this unforgettable whitewater adventure through the gorge. The Nantahala is exciting, and a great time, but not as wild as the Ocoee.  This is a river that you can bring children on as young as seven years old.

Experience the excitement of Patton's Run, the fun and splash of Tumble Dry, the rush and roar of riding Class III Nantahala Falls. For a bigger thrill, try taking one of our Duckies down the river!

Call today to start your adventure...828-835-3275  •

Zipline Canopy Tours

Zip Line Canopy Tours...Nantahala Gorge • Chattooga Ridge • Asheville • Pigeon River

Canopy Tours on the Nantahala Gorge, Chattooga Ridge and Pigeon River

Whichever course you choose you are sure to enjoy the newest outdoor adventure to hit the US.

All our courses offer a soaring and gliding experience naturally fueled by a gradual drop in elevation. All trips offer fully guided tours with 2 or more Rangers on at least 10 zips, 4 bridges beginning with a training course at each location.

Call today to start your adventure...828-835-3275  •


Adventure Camps in the Mountains

Guided Fishing Trips

Real Estate & Property Management in Cherokee County North Carolina

Property & Cabin Rental Management

Great Mountain Properties & Cabin Rentals in now accepting additional cabins

Great Mountain Cabin Rentals

Whether you purchased your mountain home as an occasional getaway, an investment, or the destination of your future retirement, we realize the importance that it be respected as your home first and foremost.

It is our objective to provide you with both quality property management as well as a rental program to help offset some of the expense of owning a 2nd home. Through the combined knowledge of all of us at Great Mountain Cabin Rentals, we have the expertise to help you understand and create a Great Mountain Cabin Rental.

896 Green Cove Road  •  Brasstown, NC 28902  • 828.835.3275  •

Cabin Rentals & Lodging in Cherokee County North Carolina

Great Mountain Cabin Rentals

Great Mountain Cabin Rentals
We are proud to represent the finest cabin rentals in Murphy North Carolina and the surrounding area. We have a nice selection of cabin and vacation rentals with excellent amenities in beautiful and peaceful mountain settings, at very reasonable prices. It is our pleasure to help you find the perfect cabin or vacation rental whether you are looking for a romantic weekend, a girlfriend's getaway, fishing trip for the guys or a family retreat. It is our goal to help you plan the best mountain getaway available.

828.835.3275  •

Heaven's Ridge, Luxury Mountain View Cabin

Heaven's Ridge, Luxury Mountain View Cabin
This beautiful, custom, luxury cabin will absolutely blow your mind. Take all of your cares and worries away, while you enjoy peace and quiet this private estate has to offer during your stay. Heaven's Ridge is located on 42 acres on top of a mountain with phenomenal mountain views all the way around. WOW! is what you will say each and every time you look out the windows of this cabin or spend time on any of the large decks that surround this home.

828.835.3275  •  Heaven's Ridge

Perfect View Luxury Pet Friendly Cabin Rental

Perfectview Hideaway
Luxury "Pet Friendly", Hot Tub Cabin located in Murphy NC.  Perfect View Hideaway offers great views with lots of covered and uncovered decks. This cabin has upscale furnishing and exceptional decor throughout.   Perfect View Hideaway has 2 full living/great rooms both with large flat screen TV's and satellite service. Both living areas also have gas fireplaces.

828.835.3275  •  Perfect View Pet Friendly Luxury Cabin

Fox Den Pet Friendly Cabin in Murphy NC

Fox Den Getaway
Luxury Pet Friendly, Cabin Rental located in Murphy NC. Fox Den is a recently built cabin offering mountain views with covered and uncovered decks. This custom designed cabin has upscale furnishing and exceptional decor throughout. Fox Den has 2 Master Bedrooms with private baths. King master has a rustic stone shower in the bathroom. Second Master has a Queen Bed. There is also a Queen size sofa bed in the living room. Fox Den has a 3 large flat screen smart TV's with Cable one in each bedroom and one in the living room, also wireless Internet service throughout. If you are looking to get away to the mountains in style, this is the cabin for you.

828.835.3275  •  Fox Den Pet Friendly Cabin Getaway

My Mountain Pet Friendly Cabin in Murphy NC

My Mountain Cabin
This sweet cabins offers 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and 2 fire pits. Just .2 miles of pavement (not gravel here) from Highway 64 and 5 miles from the Tennessee lines allowed quick access to the Ocoee Recreation Area for a great deal of adventure fun. One bedroom (queen) is located on the first floor and the second is the loft (king) offers and additional 1/2 bath and small office area/reading nook. The kitchen is well equipped and has beautiful granite counter-tops. The Flat screen TV offers satellite service and the cabin comes equipped with Internet and wifi. The first fire pit is located in a gazebo off the main deck and is gas for easy convenience.  The second fire pit it down a short walking deck staircase and is wood.  Great for making s'mores and telling stories.

828.835.3275  •  My Murphy Vacation Cabin

Cozy Bear Cabin

Cozy Bear Cabin
Sit back and watch your cares float away on the hammock in the large screened in porch; rock till your hearts content in the rocking chairs or sit by the brand new fire pit on the spacious deck. This cabin is within a few minutes to town. This 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom cabin sleepy 4 comfortably with a queen size bed and private bathroom connected to each bedroom. Brand new large screen smart tv's (living room and bedrooms) will allow you to stream your favorite movies or watch the game.

828.835.3275  •  Cozy Bear Cabin Rental

Riverside Retreat on the Nottely River

Riverside Retreat
The ultimate retreat for your mountain get-away! Perfect for the family or a romantic get-away. This comfortably furnished, Non-Smoking, two bedroom, two full bathroom, cabin home is nestled on the banks of the widest portion of the Nottely River. Rumor has it, that the fishing has been great this year. Enjoy spending your morning on the large river front deck as you watch the water go by. The yard is a great place for kids to run around. The winter months you will enjoy the wood burning fireplace.

828.835.3275  •  Riverside Retreat

Reese's Retreat Close to the Ocoee

Reese's Retreat
Brand new cabin with all the amenities. Located close to Ocoee River this sweet 2 bedroom, 2 bath cabins is great for families. Master on main has a king size bed while the living room has a pull out couch and the loft bedroom has a queen size bed making this cabin sleep 6 comfortably. The main level of the home has a nice size, well equipped kitchen for all of your cooking needs. The open dining area seats 6 along with a nice dining table on the wrap around porch for that seasonal evening meal.

828.835.3275  •  Reese's Retreat

Bear's Den, Pet Friendly Cabin

Bear's Den, Pet Friendly Cabin
Mountain View Cabin with Community Hiwassee River Access. This cabin is located only 15 minutes to town and the road is paved the entire way. Pet Friendly and WiFi access, Bear's Den is a beautiful cabin offering 3 bedrooms, one king in the loft and one queen on the main floor and the lower level has 2 sets of twin size bunkbeds, a bonus room with a queen size bed on the lower level, a pull out sofa and 3 full bathrooms. Dog friendly offering a large amount of decking with a gate for your pup to run around and enjoy. A side screen in porch allows for great outdoor dining or that morning cup of coffee, the sunrises are amazing.

828.835.3275  •  Bear's Den, Pet Friendly Cabin

Sunset Ridge, Pet Friendly Mountain Getaway

Sunset Ridge, Pet Friendly Mountain Getaway
Sunset Ridge offers a wide range of amenities and is the perfect getaway for any occasion. If you are looking for the perfect family retreat, you have found it. Sunset Ridge with Great Mountain Cabin Rentals is the perfect place to escape the big city with your family. With 3 bedrooms, a beautiful scenic porch, and a basement filled with a pong table, foosball table, and air hockey table, there's enjoyment for the whole family. Sunset Ridge has a fully stocked kitchen, indoor fireplace, a gas grill, outdoor seating, and a range of mountain views perfect for sitting by the fire pit and making s'mores with your family!

828.835.3275  •  Sunset Ridge Cabin

Running Waters, Luxury Hiwassee Riverfront Cabin

Running Waters
Running Waters sits above the beautiful Hiwassee River in the historic town of Murphy, North Carolina. This wonderful riverfront cabin offers you private escape with scenic views and direct access to the Hiwassee River, a special treat to any getaway.

Whether it's a romantic getaway, restful family vacation, or a holiday away from home, you'll be treated to comfort in our luxury riverfront 3 bedroom - 2 bathroom home.

828.835.3275  •  Running Waters

Wild Wolf Lodge, Luxury Hot Tub Cabin

Wild Wolf Lodge
Huge cabin with main level king master suite, and private bath, 2 bedrooms upstairs, 1 with 2 twins, 1 with a king bed, twin beds, trundle twin bed and a private balcony, 2 additional king beds on Terrace Level. Terrace level also has a large recreation room with full size pool table, 2 dart boards, full size bar, brand new flat screen Smart TV, and an over sized battleship game. Step outside to the large hot tub, fire pit area and even a tree-house for the little ones.

828.835.3275  •  Wild Wolf Lodge


North Carolina Campground

Murphy/Peace Valley KOA

Peace Valley Campground
The beauty and solitude of the Mountains make our KOA an ideal spot to settle in and relax for a while. Located one mile from Harrahs Cherokee Valley River Casino, we offer spacious RV Sites, fully furnished Deluxe Cabins, and Tent Sites along the scenic Valley River. At the campground, guests can wade into the water to cast their lines for trout in the stocked river, take a dip in the pool, catch up on news and sports in the game room, spend time with family and friends, and simply relax. Then get settled in and head out to explore our beautiful area. You're just a short ride to the Cherohala Skyway and Tail of the Dragon. Visit Fields of the Wood Park, hop on a mountain train, or join in a class at the famous John C. Campbell Folk School. Piney Knob Hiking Trails are just around the corner. Fires Creek, Lake Hiawassee, Nantahala, and Fontana are great natural areas to visit.

800-562-9382   •   117 Happy Valley Road   •   Marble, NC 28905  •  Murphy Peace Valley KOA Campground



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