Hiking the Jackrabbit Mountain Trails


Jackrabbit Mountain is a relatively new trail system located along the shores and hills beside Lake Chatuge near Hayesville, NC.

Lake at SABA Beach
Lake at SABA Beach
Unique covered bridge on the trail
Unique covered bridge on the trail

On Saturday, April 30, 2011, a Grand Opening was held at the trailhead for the new trail system, which included speeches, a ribbon cutting, group hikes and mountain bike rides, barbeque, and great weather. This date officially marked the opening of the Jackrabbit Mountain trail system, which now provides access to over 14 miles of trails in the southern parts of Nantahala National Forest.

Trail Characteristics

All trails are open to mountain biking and hiking, and although the trails were constructed specifically with mountain biking in mind, they're a nice place to hike as well - and would be a no-brainer if you're staying at the nearby Jackrabbit Mountain campground.

These trails were constructed over a period of over 5 years in a "Stacked Loop" configuration. A main central loop, which is easy and nearly level, has junctions with several more difficult side trails, traveling to some interesting destinations such as ridgetops and beaches. A connector trail to the campground means trail users don't have to share the street with cars when traveling to the main trail system from their campsite.

The forest here is mostly young, having been logged with a type of selective logging technique in the not-too-distant past. Stands of even-aged, smooth-trunked trees lie beneath a few leftover larger, shelter trees that were allowed to stand when the logging took place. There's quite a bit of poison ivy, so keep that in mind when choosing your clothing, especially during the summer. There are no major stream crossings to speak of, but the lake is always nearby for you to enjoy.

Small Picnic Area at the Jackrabbit Trailhead
Small Picnic Area at the Jackrabbit Trailhead


At the trailhead, there are plenty of parking spaces, pit toilets, maps & information, and a grassy field with picnic tables by an arm of the lake.

Interactive Trail Map

Map Information

Download GPS Data

Click on a route, trail, or point on the map and select the GPS Data tab to download its data.

Data Formats

KML (Google Earth)

KML is the main file type used by Google Earth. If you have Google Earth installed, clicking the KML link should open the trail or point directly in Google Earth for viewing. This is the native file format used by Google Earth, but many other map applications can use and understand KML as well, so if you're not sure which one to download, KML is a good bet.


The GPX format stands for GPS Exchange - a free, open, XML format for exchanging GPS and map data. GPX is compatible with Google Earth, many other mapping programs, and most GPS devices (such as Garmin). Load the file directly into your GPS to help find your way on your next trip!


GeoJSON is a newer, lightweight data exchange format which can be used to quickly share map data and may have a smaller size than KML or GPX. Many professional mapping and GIS applications support the GeoJSON format.

About the Map


Base Layers

Base layers provided by OpenStreetMap, the US Geological Survey, the US Forest Service, and NC OneMap. Base layer images are subject to the respective copyright policies of their owners. Base layers may not be available at all times due to system maintenance or outages.

WNCOutdoors Base Layer

The WNCOutdoors Base layer is provided by WNCOutdoors.info. It is licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

Trail and Marker Overlays

Trail layers and downloadable data are all original works created by WNCOutdoors with guidance from a variety of sources, including ensembles of our own GPS tracks, user contributed GPS tracks, official maps and GIS data from government agencies, and field observations. WNCOutdoors data is made freely available under the Open Database License - you are free to copy and use it for any purpose under the terms of that license (summary).


  • Hover over a trail to see it highlighted. Helps to see start and end points for an individual trail.
  • Scroll and zoom the map before printing, and that view will persist into the printed image.
  • Click a trail for more details and to download it individually.

Places to Stay


Camping is available nearby in the Jackrabbit Mountain Campground, which is on the lake shore. A trail connects the campground with the trailhead so hikers don't have to walk along the road to get there without driving.


There are several hotels nearby in Hayesville and a bit further away in Murphy (30 minutes) and Franklin.


The trailhead is located closest to the town of Hayesville, N.C., not far from either Murphy or Franklin on US Hwy. 64.

From Murphy, NC at US Hwys. 19-74-129:
Follow US Hwy. 64 East for 18.9 miles and turn right on NC Hwy. 175 South.

From Franklin, NC at US Hwy. 441:
Follow US Hwy. 64 West for 28.3 miles and turn left on NC Hwy. 175 South.

Go 0.9 miles and turn right to stay on NC Hwy. 175, crossing a long one-lane concrete bridge over an arm of the lake. Go 2.5 miles and turn right onto Jack Rabbit Road. Bear left after 250 ft., staying on Jack Rabbit Road. The signed parking area is on the left after about 1/2 mile. (The campground is straight ahead at the end of Jack Rabbit Road).

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