Haywood County -- The rugged and picturesque terrain of Western North Carolina has long been a source
of fascination and inspiration for adventurers, artists, and nature-lovers alike.
Yet for all its natural beauty, the region has also been shaped by human activity - particularly the logging industry
that swept through the area in the late 1800s and early 1900s, leaving a lasting mark on the landscape.
But amid the clear-cut forests and scarred hillsides, there are still pockets of untouched wilderness that offer a glimpse
into a bygone era. These are the "lost coves" - isolated inlets of land that were left untouched by the timber industry during its heyday.
In the Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton, and Clyde areas of Haywood County, there are several such coves that have remained virtually unchanged for over a century. These hidden gems offer a rare opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the region as it once was, before the loggers arrived.
To access these lost coves, visitors must be willing to venture off the beaten path and into the backcountry. Many of the trails leading to these secluded areas are steep and rugged, requiring a good level of physical fitness and hiking experience. But for those who are up to the challenge, the rewards are well worth the effort.
One such lost cove is found in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area, a pristine wilderness that has remained largely untouched since the logging era. Here, visitors can hike to the top of Cold Mountain, made famous by the best-selling novel and subsequent film of the same name. From the summit, the views are breathtaking, stretching out across miles of unspoiled forest and rugged peaks.
Another lost cove can be found in the Cataloochee Valley, a remote and wild area that was once home to a thriving logging community. Today, the valley is a protected area, home to a diverse array of wildlife and some of the most spectacular scenery in the region. Visitors can hike the trails that wind through the valley, taking in views of towering waterfalls, lush forests, and open meadows.
In Maggie Valley, visitors can explore the historic Cataloochee Ranch, a working cattle ranch that has been in operation for over a century. Here, guests can experience the lifestyle of a true Western North Carolina rancher, with horseback riding, cattle drives, and other outdoor activities.
And in Waynesville and Clyde, visitors can explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which covers over 500,000 acres of rugged wilderness and pristine backcountry. Here, hikers can explore some of the most remote and untouched areas of the park, including the famous Appalachian Trail.
For those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and experience the natural beauty of Western North Carolina as it once was, the lost coves of Haywood County offer an unforgettable adventure. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and get ready to explore some of the most rugged and unspoiled wilderness in the country.
To find out more about Haywood County visit Blue Ridge Parkway Haywood County
WNCtimes by Marjorie Farrington March 2023