Destination Cullowhee: Cedar Cliff

There’s a familiar chill in the air. The leaves have started to droop and bow their heads as if tired from a long season of standing at attention. Vibrant greens with which we began the school year have begun to fade into gentle autumn hues. Pretty soon this entire region will explode into an amazing bouquet of color. If this is your first fall season in the mountains, you’re in for a treat. Now, Cullowhee, how about a place to see such magnificence on one of the grandest scales you can imagine? How about a mountain hike, not twenty minutes from campus, with a view overlooking part of the Tennessee valley, Bear Lake, and the Tuckaseigee River? If you found yourself wondering what the valley looks like from a thousand feet above Cullowhee, or what an autumn breeze feels like from the summit of a mountain, then follow these instructions to Cedar Cliff. Cedar Cliff is a natural cliff face, but don’t be intimidated by the name ‘cliff.’ You won’t be doing any rock climbing unless you so choose. The trail is easy to follow, with most steep areas lined with rope to assist in the hike. Cedar Cliff is exactly nine miles from WCU campus. Start out on 107 towards Cashiers (away from Sylva), and turn left onto State Highway 321, just past the Exxon. This road will run alongside the Tuckaseigee for a few miles until, almost out of nowhere, you will see a large rock face in front of you. A sign on the left reads ‘Cedar Cliff’ with an arrow pointing upward. There is also a Century 21 real estate sign beside the gravel road that will be the trail. This hike is not long, but it is steep, so dress comfortably and bring enough water for a 30-40 minute hike. The gravel road levels off after about 200 feet so don’t be intimidated by the beginning. The road leads to a clearing with a smaller, single-track trail ascending upward. Head left when the trail forks and follow your way upwards towards an incredible view; you’ll know it when you see it. If this view isn’t quite enough, and you’re in the mood for a little adventure, there’s also a 30 foot rope swing on the right half of the river beneath Cedar Cliff. To get here, go back to 107, take a left towards Cashiers and take the next left. This road will turn to gravel and take a left at the fork before the expensive looking entranceway. Cedar Cliff might have been the real excursion, but call this a bonus. Because we like you, that’s why.