The Cashiers-Highlands Plateau
Affectionately referred to as The Plateau, the greater Cashiers-Highlands area is an exclusive destination atop the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. The area is comprised of Cashiers, Highlands, Sapphire, Sapphire Valley, Lake Glenville and Lake Toxaway. Renowned for its temperate climate and pristine nature, visitors come from all over the world to the Plateau, seeking a summer retreat and a high-altitude escape from urban life.
While the summer season is the busiest on the Plateau, large crowds are drawn each autumn to witness the changing of the leaves. This brilliantly colorful, natural phenomena is accented by such events as the Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival, featuring live music and local artisans. The Plateau has also become an iconic destination for Thanksgiving and Christmas. At these times of year, the Plateau becomes a winter wonderland in the mountains, with its many Christmas tree farms. The Holiday cheer in the mountains brings families and friends together around wood-burning, stone fireplaces amidst the peace and quiet of the mountain wilderness.
In recent years, the mountain chic lifestyle and the region’s friendly atmosphere has lured more part-time and full-time residents to the region. Top class dining, upmarket shopping and numerous arts and culture venues offer residents of the Plateau all of the amenities of life at sea level, all the while providing uncompromising access to National Parks, hiking trails, lakes and waterfalls.
A typical morning in the mountains begins at a relaxed pace with a hot cup of coffee or tea, enjoyed from the comfort of a heated back porch overlooking the sun-glazed mist floating over a tree-lined valley. For those looking for a more crafted start to the day, simply drive into town to Buck’s Coffee. With locations in Cashiers and Highlands, Buck’s is the premier coffee shop on the Plateau, whose baristas are ready to serve you the beverage of your choice just to your liking.
The rest of the morning is wide open. Heading into nature, you can hit the hiking trails that wind throughout Gorges State Park, Panthertown and Nantahala National Forests, leading you to exclusive sights such as Whiteside Mountain and Dry Falls. If you’re a cyclist, many of these trails can be explored by mountain bike as well. The Plateau is also widely regarded for its world class fly-fishing, home to many experienced guides and outfitters, whose expertise you can rely on in the hunt for the elusive brown trout.
For boating and watersports enthusiasts, the serene waters of Lake Toxaway and Lake Glenville are calling. The beautiful Lake Toxaway Golf & Country Club offers exclusive access to its waterfront and marina only to residents of the community, providing an unsurpassed private lake experience in the mountains. Open to the public, Lake Glenville is renowned for its tree-lined shores adorned with 7 dramatic waterfalls, which make for a perfect backdrop to a day spent on the water.
If you are looking for a more athletic start to the day, many of the Plateau’s exclusive communities offer world-class golf and tennis facilities. Some of the area’s most renowned golf clubs are Burlingame Country Club, Lake Toxaway Country Club, Wade Hampton Golf Club, Wildcat Cliffs Country Club, Mountaintop Golf & Country Club and Highlands Country Club. The signature courses at these clubs sprawl through the forest along the rocky contours of the mountains, offering cliff-hanging fairways and dramatic approaches to island greens.
After a morning outside in the fresh mountain air, you can take the afternoon at your leisure. The historic Downtown Highlands is a shopper’s paradise, whose picturesque main street is lined with early-20th century, red brick storefronts. Have lunch in town at one of the many gourmet establishments, such as the sophisticated mountain fare at Wild Thyme, after which you can shop to your heart’s content.
If you’re a fan of craft beers, then be sure to visit the Plateau’s local Satulah Mountain Brewing Company. The tap room is open year round, inviting you to taste a wide selection of locally brewed and curated craft beers. Also opening in Cashiers in the spring of 2018, is the Plateau’s second craft brewery, Whiteside Brewing, which will have a full-service restaurant and outdoor dining area, in addition to their 6 original beers on tap plus one rotating seasonal brew.
For an afternoon of arts and culture, the nearby Bascom Center for the Arts has regular contemporary fine arts and crafts exhibitions, as well as professionally instructed classes by resident artists for both adults and children. If you’re interested in taking a 160 year step back in time, the Zachary-Tolbert House is an immaculately preserved museum not to be missed. Built in 1852 in Cashiers by founding resident Mordecai Zachary and his family, the home’s original Greek-revival architecture and plain-style furniture is maintained by the Cashiers Historical Society to its original condition.
The mountains are always alive with the sound of music. Throughout the summer months, the Cashiers Village Green hosts the Groovin’ on the Green Summer Concert Series, bringing many established and upcoming artists to the area. The main stage overlooks a large grassy lawn, inviting locals and visitors, friends and family alike, to enjoy the sounds of summer as the sun sets behind the surrounding mountain peaks. The music continues throughout the night, with regular live bluegrass shows at Highland’s Ugly Dog Pub and their sister pub, the Ugly Puppy in Cashiers.
For an unforgettable dining experience in the mountains, be sure to reserve a table at Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley. With an emphasis on farm-to-table and seasonal ingredients, Chef Adam Hayes imaginatively revisits southern cuisine, serving guests in an awe-inspiring, yet relaxed open-air setting overlooked by the impressive granite peaks.
If you’re looking for a more romantic night in town, you could consider booking a reservation at the exclusive Meritage Bistro, a restaurant and wine bar serving creative, modern European cuisine. The perfect accompaniment to this evening would be a show at the Highland’s Playhouse, followed by a luxurious stay at the Park on Main, Highland’s premier pet-friendly boutique hotel.
The beauty of life in the mountains is that it adapts to you and your desires. Whether spending a night on the town or concluding the evening at home in your mountain retreat overlooking a now moonlit valley, the mountain-chic lifestyle of the Cashiers-Highlands Plateau is there for your taking.
*Title photo © Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley
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