Welcome to Cherokee County, North Carolina, the “Gateway to the Smokey Mountains” with breathtaking mountain scenery, crisp clean air, and plentiful lakes and rivers. Cherokee County is the southwestern-most county in North Carolina and consists of two towns, Murphy (the county seat) and Andrews, plus surrounding unincorporated communities. Residents and visitors enjoy an almost limitless variety of outdoor activities plus indoor fun with concerts, art and music festivals, gourmet dining and more. With the best of modern life coupled with small-town charm and warm Southern hospitality, Cherokee County is a great place to live, work and play.
Cherokee County was formed in 1839. Bordered by the states of Tennessee and Georgia, it is located in the southern tip of the Great Smokey Mountains. Named for the native Cherokee inhabiting its lands before European settlement by Scotch-Irish, English and German immigrants, many landmarks and locations were named by the Cherokee. The county was a final gathering point of the Cherokee before their forced exodus west along the tragic “Trail of Tears.”
The longest hiking-only footpath in the world, the Appalachian Trail, goes through Cherokee County, NC.
Cherokee County is in a mountain area. Its highest elevation is 5,149 feet and the lowest elevation is 1,170 feet. The 466-square-mile county encompasses 300,100 acres, with 92,363 acres of U.S. Forest Service land (Nantahala National Forest), 8,700 acres of lake, and 38,887 acres of farm land. The Hiwassee River, the Nottely River and the Valley River flow through the county. The climate is moderate for year-round living with an average 6 inches of rainfall and temperature ranges from 60-85 in the summer and 20-58 in the winter.
Home to West Carolina Regional Airport, Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital and Tri-County Community College, Cherokee County has an estimated population of 28,383 people with 91% White, 3.3% Hispanic and 2.5% two or more races. Bordered by Tennessee and Georgia, it is conveniently located within 2 hours of the major metropolitan areas of Chattanooga TN, Knoxville, TN, Asheville, NC and Atlanta.
Activities and Attractions
There is something for everyone to enjoy in Cherokee County. Mountains, lakes, rivers and streams provide endless outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, biking, boating, water sports, zip lining, geo-caching, kayaking and more. The legendary Nantahala River Gorge offers both white water rafting and fly fishing with another white-water destination, the Ocoee River Gorge, just outside the west end of the county. Motorists can drive famous winding roadways or enjoy a mapped scenic drive.
For more leisurely activities, the county’s picturesque mountain towns and communities offer art museums, wineries as part of an American Viticulture Area, craft breweries, shopping, antiquing, movies, gourmet dining, musical and seasonal events, festivals, and fairs.
Popular Attractions include Field of the Woods with the world’s largest Ten Commandments, the world-renown John C. Campbell Folk School, Callaboose Cellars, the smallest free-standing, complete winery in America, and Harrah’s Valley River Casino and family-friendly Multi-tainment Center.