LENGTH AND DIFFICULTY: 2 mile loop, moderate, USGS Quad-Highlands
The road to Whiteside Mountain is located on Highway 64 4.6 miles west of Cashiers and 5.5 miles east of Highlands at the Jackson/Macon county line. Just west of the Jackson/Macon County line, turn onto Whiteside Mountain Road (SR# 1690), a large brown state sign “Whiteside Mountain Trail Parking” marks the turn. Go1 mile to the well-marked parking area on the left. You will notice first thing that this is a fee area, there is a flat charge per vehicle. A restroom facility is located at the far end of the parking area.
Perhaps one of the best trails in the area for a panoramic view is the Whiteside Mountain Trail. Beautiful views of the surrounding area can be seen from vantage points all along the trail. To the north Shortoff and Yellow Mountain are prominent. Chimneytop Mountain rises to the east. To the south the foothills and Piedmont, including Lake Keowee, are visible. On the western horizon rises the Nantahala Mountains where the Appalachian Trail meanders. The summit of the mountain reaches an elevation of almost 4900 ft., about 2000 ft. above Whiteside Cove to the south. Rock outcrops and cliffs are numerous.
The trail is a 2-mile loop that goes around the back or north side of the mountain and then along the ridge. The total climb is approximately 500 ft. The trail can be walked in an hour but you will want to allow plenty of time to take in the vistas.