Best of Bryson City

Bryson City is a small outdoor town located in Western North Carolina on the southern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). For the adventure and outdoor lover, Bryson City has been one of the best kept secrets in the mountains.

Here is what makes this place so awesome, the best of Bryson City.


Best Hike

Goldmine Loop

Goldmine Loop

Located in the GSMNP, a short drive from town, in a area referred to as the “Road to Nowhere” lays the Goldmine Loop trail. This 3.1 mile trail wanders through the mountain forests opening up to views of Fontana Lake and sites of homesteads long forgotten. The loop is highlighted by the long dark tunnel that starts the hike and is the reason the area is called the “Road to Nowhere.” This area is a passionate topic with the locals who see it as a broken promise. Had it been finished the road would have allowed access to family cemeteries that were made inaccessible with the creation of Fontana Lake. The trail is a moderate hike with little elevation change and a one mile alternate if the trail seems like too much for you.


Best Cup of Joe

Mountain Perks

mountain perks

An awesome little cafe right in town. Bryson City has plenty of coffee shop options but Mountain Perks is by far the best. The coffee is always great and the food never fails. Their slogan of “life’s to short for bad coffee” is hard to argue with.   My personal favorite meal is the Kerby sandwich w/ a Milky Way to wash it down. The owner Pam can usually be found behind the bar providing a little bit of spice that only comes from a family run coffee house.


Best Camping

Deep Creek Campground in The GSMNP

tom branch falls

Camping in the park is an experience everyone should try. Deep Creek camping puts you in the middle of what the mountains are all about, with streams, trail, and waterfalls. Sites are cheap but there are no bells and whistles (like showers) but you can’t beat the location. At Deep Creek you can choose between backcountry, group camping and horse camps but for the beginner, go for frontcountry (it is a good primer for national park camping).


Best Brew

Nantahala Brewing Company

nantahala brewing company

This place is a little different. Inside there is corn-hole and giant jinga to play. But at the bar you will find plenty to wet your whistle, from their flagship beers to seasonal and specialty brews.  Must try’s are the Dirty Girl Blond, Bryson City Brown and Noon Day IPA. After a hike or paddle there is no greater reward than sitting down at the bar at Nantahala Brewing Company.


Best Mountain Biking

Tsali Mountain Bike Trails

tsali mountain biking

The highly acclaimed Tsali Mountain Bike Trails are a series of four trails that climb and fall along Fontana Lake. Two trails are open to biking each day with the others open for horseback riding. Along with bike trails there is also a campground as a part of the Tsali recreational area. So if riding is what you love, camp a few nights and ride till your legs go numb. For the beginner, Thompson and Right loop are best. For the more experienced, Left loop is the way to go. If in need of some bike repairs look up the guys at Tsali Cycles, there you can have some local brew while your bike gets worked on.


Best Night Stay

Fryemont Inn

fryemont 2

This historic inn first opened its doors in Bryson City in 1923. The Fryemont Inn feels like you have gone back in time and has a authentic mountain lodge feel. The lodge is not all old, with a modern pool, bar, and dinning on the grounds. Located in town you are in the middle of it all and can always take a walk around town. From rooms to suites they can accommodate the romantic getaway or the small family.


Best River Trip

Nantahala River Rafting


A short drive from town is the Nantahala River with class II and III rapids that are perfect for the beginner paddler. From the first splashes of the rapid Patton’s Run to the final drop of Lesser Wesser the Nantahala river excites. Chose between rafting with a guide, non guided, or fun one or two person funyaks.  Floating through the Nantahala gorge is one of the most beautiful ways to experience the area. For the best ride on the river reserve with Carolina Outfitters. They offer a wide variety of boats and times so you can raft when you want the way you want.


Best Breakfast

Everett Street Diner


No frills, just good food. Everett Street Diner is locate at what most would consider the direct middle of town. This is where the locals eat. The reason why, because it is good hardy go get something done food. If you happen in at typical working folks breakfast or lunch time, good luck getting a seat. When you come in for breakfast you are likely to be eating across from the fire squad or EMT’s. My favorite by far is the biscuits and gravy, but there has never been anything I didn’t tear through.


Best Gear Shop

Bryson City Outdoors

bryson city outdoors

Located right in the heart of town, Bryson City Outdoors is part gear shop and part adventure hub. They know the local area well and have what you need to get the most out of it. Aside from their store they also offer stand up paddle board rentals on the Finger lake. Check these guys out, they are new and make an awesome addition to the Bryson City area.


Best Time of Year

The Autumn


The summer is crowded and the winter is dead but the fall is perfect. In mid October the leaves start to changed turning the mountains into a colorful landscape. The temperature is perfect for enjoying everything the mountains have to offer, from rafting to hiking. Fall festivals are happening everywhere with local artisans and Appalachian music abundant.


Hope this helps you make the most of your next trip to the Bryson City area.








Jennifer and Grant Outlaw are co-owners of Carolina Outfitters and Carolina Ocoee.  They’ve been paddling whitewater in the Ducktown, TN and Bryson City, NC rivers for years and know how to help you have a great experience.


From the Blog

Our Posts

Creeks that Feed the Ocoee River

Creeks that Feed the Ocoee River

250,00 rivers cover over 3.5 million miles of landscape in the United States. All of these rivers are fed by small creeks and streams. Eastern...

Winter in the Great Smokies

Winter in the Great Smokies

Crisp cold mornings in the Great Smokies remind us that winter is arriving. The rafts, kayaks, canoes, boats, and paddles are put away for the...