What Is the Smallest County in North Carolina

What Is the Smallest County in North Carolina?

North Carolina, known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes, is a state that offers a diverse range of attractions and activities for residents and visitors alike. With its 100 counties, each with its own unique charm, North Carolina has something for everyone. However, when it comes to size, one county stands out as the smallest in the state – Clay County.

Located in the western part of North Carolina, Clay County is nestled in the picturesque Appalachian Mountains. With a total area of just 220 square miles, it is the smallest county in the state. Despite its small size, Clay County is known for its natural beauty, friendly community, and rich heritage.

Formed in 1861 from the western part of Cherokee County, Clay County was named after Henry Clay, a prominent American statesman. The county seat is Hayesville, a charming town with a population of around 400 people. Hayesville is known for its historic courthouse square, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Clay County is surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest, providing residents and visitors with ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. The county is home to several scenic lakes, including Lake Chatuge, which spans the North Carolina-Georgia border. These lakes offer fishing, boating, and water sports, attracting nature enthusiasts from all over the region.

One of the notable attractions in Clay County is the Fields of the Wood, a religious park located on Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. The park features a giant Ten Commandments monument, as well as replicas of biblical landmarks such as the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, and the Tomb of Jesus. Visitors can explore the park’s hiking trails, picnic areas, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

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In addition to its natural beauty, Clay County is also known for its vibrant arts scene. The county hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, showcasing local artists, musicians, and craftsmen. The annual “Clay County Fair” is a popular event that celebrates the county’s agricultural heritage, featuring livestock shows, carnival rides, live entertainment, and delicious food.


Q: What is the population of Clay County, North Carolina?
A: According to the latest estimates, the population of Clay County is around 11,000 people.

Q: What is the main industry in Clay County?
A: Agriculture, tourism, and small-scale industries are the main sources of employment in Clay County.

Q: Are there any hiking trails in Clay County?
A: Yes, Clay County offers several hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. The Appalachian Trail also passes through the county.

Q: Can I go fishing in Clay County?
A: Yes, the lakes in Clay County, such as Lake Chatuge and Fires Creek, offer excellent fishing opportunities. Anglers can catch various species of fish, including bass, trout, and catfish.

Q: What is the best time to visit Clay County?
A: The best time to visit Clay County is during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is mild, and the foliage is at its most vibrant.

In conclusion, Clay County, the smallest county in North Carolina, may be small in size but is big on natural beauty, cultural heritage, and recreational opportunities. From its stunning mountains and lakes to its charming towns and vibrant arts scene, Clay County offers a unique experience for those seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of Appalachia. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, exploring local history, or simply enjoying the tranquility of nature, Clay County has something to offer everyone.

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