Our Story

The Highland Hiker has been outfitting people from all over the world for hiking, biking, paddling, fishing and camping in the Highlands-Cashiers as well as outfitting people from the Highlands-Cashiers area for their global adventures for quite some time. The origins of the Highland Hiker go back to 1975 when Margaret Hoff opened The Happy Hiker on Chestnut Street in Highlands. At the time, Mrs. Hoff catered to a pretty niche group of outdoors people with little more than Swiss hiking boots.

In 1982 Margaret sold the store to David Wilkes and Coleman Beale. College friends who had decided to go into business together. Although the main theme of catering to hikers and paddlers remained the same, they immediately expanded into all kinds of different merchandise from women’s fashion to sheepskin rugs. David and Coleman even put out The Happy Hiker Mail order catalog and began to see the business expand rapidly opening locations in Gatlinburg, TN as well as another shop in the Mallard Square Shopping Center.  In 1983 The Happy Hiker also opened the very first Orvis Fly Fishing school south of West Virginia as well as a guide service that remains to this day.

In 1991, the partners went their separate ways and David and his wife Carol re-opened the store a year later under the name Highland Hiker and centralized it in what is now flagship location in the old Joe Webb Log Cabin on Main Street in Highlands. In 1995 the Highland Hiker opened it’s the second location in Cashiers, NC catering to a brand new population in the valley. Since then we have opened several locations including the Hill store off of 4th street (1998-2004), The Falls on Main Location (Est. 2011) that is right next to our Highland Hiker Shoe Store (Est. 2004) which deals exclusively in footwear.

In 2013 David and Carol’s son Christopher and his wife, Hilary began to take over the reins of the business to take it into the next generation. Though the face of the owners may change, the goal remains the same, being the most customer-friendly and fun establishment to come to when you have an adventure to suit up for. From Kilimanjaro to Katahdin, to just tenting out in the backyard with the kids, the Highland Hiker can trace more than 40 years of outfitting you for any adventure you may have. We look forward to supplying you with the best clothing and equipment for 40 more.