Whiteside Mountain is one of the most spectacular peaks not just in the Southern Appalachians, but on the entire east coast. It has some of the highest sheer cliffs east of the Mississippi, at 1,000 feet. There is at least one ten pitch climb of over 750 feet on the mountain. This peak,
along with the Panthertown Valley, has been called "the Yosemite of the East", and with good reason. There is quite a lot of exposed granite in this area, with great climbing, wonderful views, a fine watershed, splendid falls and whitewater, good wildlife habitat, and loads of mountain scenery.
Evening on Whiteside.
That said, what has happened to Whiteside Mountain and its locale is quite horrible. Go there to climb. Or go to see the cliffs. But don't visit Whiteside with any idea of finding seclusion or seeing a wilderness in recovery. The town of Highlands has been allowed to sprawl all over these slopes, and indeed there are houses and large estates right up to the Forest Service land at the summit. Looking at the vista from the top, one can see roads and houses and subdivisions creeping everywhere. Even on the peak, one is never out of earshot of the sound of construction machinery and the push of crowds.
Take 64 into Highlands. Follow the signs to the Whiteside Mountain Trailhead.
A National Forest Service online brochure can be found here
The only red tape of which I am aware is a $2 parking fee for using the Whiteside Mountain Trailhead.
When To Climb
The mountain is closed during peregrine falcon breeding season, which runs from February 15 to July 15. It can be very hot in the summer months and I would suppose climbing then is not a good idea. However, the day I was there (August 19, 2004) there were climbers on the highest part of the wall, although they had started at the top and were rappelling down.
A trip description of the ten pitch Original Route can be found here.
There is no Forest Service camping near the mountain of which I am aware.
A Highlands area information center can be had here.
Check the weather for Highlands, NC. Since Highlands is on the mountain, I would suppose the weather would be perfectly accurate.
If you have information about this mountain that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.