Whiteside Mountain

  • Highlights: Great views, rock cliffs, wildflowers
  • Distance: 2 mile loop
  • Elevation change: 550 feet
  • Difficulty level: Easy/Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: State Route 1680 between Highlands and Cashiers, fee required 
  • Website: US Forest Service
  • Beer Pairings: Highland Brewing—Gaelic Ale & Daycation IPA

The Hike:

This short hike has some great mountain views, geology, and history. From the parking area, the trail begins near trailhead kiosk. At .1 miles, the loop begins, stay left on a wide gravel path as granite cliffs lined with rhododendron are on the right. The trails climbs steadily for .9 miles when you reach the summit at 4,930’ and the trail curves to the right. 

Peregrine falcons nest here and the southern granite face is popular with rock climbers. The views to the south and east open up and keep getting better as you make your way along the edge of the granite cliffs. Metal cables and fencing provide a safe barrier as this section of the mountain is 750 feet from the valley below. The views are stunning with Devil’s Courthouse visible to the east and Georgia and South Carolina to the south.

At 1.3 miles reach Fools Rock, the site of a 1911 rescue of a fool who ventured too close to the edge and had to be rescued by his friends. You can climb down to the point where he fell and admire the courage of those climbed down to save him. The trail begins to descend and moves away from the edge of the cliffs. A series of steps and switchbacks make the climb down easier and returns you to the parking area at 2 miles.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

Our home-base in Highlands was the Highlander Mountain House and their pub, the Ruffed Grouse Tavern. The pub has a nice selection of draft and bottled beers. Highland Brewing was one of the pioneers of the Asheville NC craft brewery scene and we have been enjoying their beers in Virginia for several years. 

Gaelic Ale was on draft and it’s a great beer with a nice balance between malty sweetness and delicate hop bitterness. Daycation is a session IPA made with Mosaic, El Dorado, and Azacca hops. As with all session IPAs, the alcohol is lower (4.9%) but with 40 IBUs, the hops shine through with just the right amount of bitterness. After our post-hike beers in the pub, we enjoyed a great dinner in the tavern followed by a comfortable night upstairs at the inn.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.