Western North Carolina is laced with rivers, lakes, and gorgeous waterfalls. Cherokee County and the Nantahala National Forest have some of the most beautiful waterways of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Rivers in and near Cherokee County include the Hiwassee River, Valley River, Nottley River, and the Ocoee River and Nantahala River Gorge. All rivers are popular for many outdoor activities including: whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking and camping.

The Hiwassee River, a tributary of the Tennessee River, runs through Cherokee County, NC. It boasts of Class I, II and III rapids and North Shoal Creek Falls, a picturesque waterfall near Apalachia Lake. A few miles east of Cherokee County, visitors enjoy riding inflatable tubes and duckies down the small but exciting rapids of the Hiwassee River.

For information on self-guided float trips and times for Cherokee County rivers visit Paddle Hiwassee.

Once reaching Cherokee County, Hiwassee River flows into Hiwassee Lake, which is popular for fishing and recreational boating. Popular outdoor recreational areas around the lake include Hanging Dog Recreation Area with camping and picnic amenities, Ramsey Bluff Mountain Bike Trails, Konehete Park and the Murphy River Walk.

The Ocoee River, located a few miles west of Cherokee County, is most known for its impressive rapids and hosting of the 1996 Olympic Games. The Nantahala Gorge runs east of Cherokee County and is one of the most beautiful rivers in Western North Carolina. Both of these rivers offer commercial outfitters to guide you on your whitewater adventure.