Cliffside Lake Shelters

National Forests in North Carolina

Cliffside Lake Recreation Area is a large Day Use area outside of Highlands, NC in Nantahala National Forest. The site offers access to Cliffside Lake where visitors can fish and swim. Cliffside is also home to several trailheads, including the popular Ranger Falls Trail. A $5 per car parking fee is charged for all visitors. Picnic shelters are available for reservation and are the perfect venue for a family reunion, school group, or church outing.

The Cliffside Lake Picnic shelters offer visitors a large covered area with picnic tables, grills, and vault toilets. These shelters must be reserved in advance.

Visitors can utilize the beach and swimming area (no lifeguard on duty), a fishing pier, flush toilets near the beach, and several small uncovered picnic areas complete with tables and grills.

Need to Know

Natural Features

Cliffside Lake is located adjacent to the beautiful Cullasaja Gorge where visitors can see several large waterfalls a short walk from Highway 64. The site is nestled between three beautiful mountains, all of which can be explored on the extensive trail system. At 4,118 feet elevation, visitors will enjoy the cooler temperatures that the unique temperate rainforest ecosystem brings to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The calm waters of Cliffside Lake offer anglers of all ages a unique opportunity to catch multiple species including trout, bass, and bream.

Nearby Attractions

A morning or late afternoon drive down scenic Highway 64 is sure to present visitors with amazing views. The quaint town of Highlands has a general store and several fantastic restaurants, while the larger town of Franklin has shopping, grocery stores and performing arts.


Cliffside Lake Recreation Area offers six hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate, as well as trout fishing, picnicking and swimming. Boating is not permitted. Cliffside is a short drive from Dry Falls, Whitewater Falls, and Rainbow Falls. Cliffside is also adjacent to the well maintained and secluded Van Hook Glade Campground. The nearby Cashiers Valley offers recreationalists a plethora of activities such as hiking, cycling, fishing, rock climbing, and whitewater. Nearby Whiteside Mountain is the perfect hike for an adventurous family with young children.

Contact Information


14014 Highlands Road Highlands NC 28741

Phone Number

For campground inquiries, please call: 828-527-5912

Rental Options

Learn more about gear rental options for your trip

Available Campsites

Photo Gallery