7 Best North Carolina Waterfalls
7 Best North Carolina Waterfalls
Western North Carolina can also be described as the “Land of Waterfalls,” due to the 250+ waterfalls that grace it’s landscape. We’re huge waterfall chasers, and we spend most of our free time plotting our next waterfall adventure. Lucky for us, there’s plenty to choose from. Here’s a list of the 7 best North Carolina waterfalls.
This easily accessible waterfall is located in the Pisgah National Forest outside of Brevard. And by easily accessible, it’s right off the side off the road! This makes it the perfect place for picnics, families, and summer time hanging out. The summer in the south can get hot, so cool off with a swim in the waterfall’s splash pool. It can get crowded, but there are plenty of waterfalls in the area that require a hike if you prefer less people.
This wonderful waterfall requires a bit of a hike, but is worth the effort. The hike is not too strenuous or long, but can be turned into a loop to add about 1.5 miles onto it. The trail meanders its way downhill through a wonderful forest until reaching the waterfall base, at which you can continue across the base on the bridge for the loop trail. I personally love the way the water looks cascading down the rock wall, as it isn’t a full steady stream but rather breaks into many tiny streams due to the uneven rock face before meeting again at the base. The trail head can be found off the Blue Ridge Parkway, 41 miles north of Asheville. This is truly one of the best North Carolina waterfalls, and it’s proximity to Asheville makes it easy to get to.
Linville Falls is maybe one of the best known in the area, and is a great day trip from many different areas in the state. Better yet, after the hike the gorgeous Linville Falls Winery is a 5 minute drive away. Linville Falls has a couple of different options for hiking, and there’s about 4-4.5 miles of trail in the park. There’s five different view of the falls: the top of the falls, the base of the falls, two upper views of the falls, and view of the plunge basin on the opposite side of the base trail. Watch out for Parkway closures which will make getting to the falls difficult, but head to the National Forest Parking Area in the event the Visitor Center lot is closed. Located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 316.4, it’s an easy drive from Asheville, or Morganton.
This waterfall is similar in look to Crabtree, but is a little bit of a trip to get to from most major cities. Located on the Cherokee preservation and a 15 minute drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s a wonderful addition to any trip to the area. The trail is well maintained and there are actual stairs to climb the entire time rather than raw trail. After a quick 10 minute hike you reach a wooden platform at the base of the waterfall. The area that the waterfall is in is owned by the Cherokee Native Americans, so if you’re looking for activities before or after your trip to the waterfall, there is a museum, tourist shops, or a massive casino nearby. And then there’s the obvious one, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park which has free admission 100% of the time.
Sadly I don’t have a picture of this one, because it was pouring rain and we decided to sprint from the car to the lookout.
This is a personal favorite of Cazzie and I’s, mostly because we live 25 minutes from the South Mountain State Park where the falls are located. The entire park is very well maintained and the High Shoals Falls hike is extremely well built and preserved. There are stairs that will take you up the steep sections, but the climb can get intense due to the steady increase of the trail. There will be a set of mini falls before you reach the actual waterfall, but these are gorgeous as well. Once you reach the falls, there’s a wooden viewing platform and swimming is not allowed. Continue up the stairs just a little farther to get to the loop or more trails.
South Mountain suffered from some pretty severe forest fires last fall, and effects of these fires can be seen in the forested areas of some trails, with some trails still being closed. Just a friendly reminder to always put out your campfires. 🙂
Located in Wilson’s Creek of the Pisgah National Forest Grandfather Ranger District, this waterfall requires an easy 1.2 mile hike to the falls. The hike is a beautiful representation of Pisgah, with rhododendron forming arching walkways and the sun peeking through the dense forests. The trails in Wilson’s creek can be combined to make a much longer hike, a back country camping trip, or simply just a day full of waterfall chasing. There are at least 7 waterfalls located in Wilson’s Creek area, so exploring here will definitely keep anyone entertained. If you would like more information about Wilson’s Creek area, check out our adventures here.
Another short but sweet hike will lead you to the Lower Catawba Falls. This waterfall is best enjoyed after a nice rain because the water will be flowing and everything will be lush. The hike is mostly level but climbs in elevation as you lead up to the lower falls. You’ll have to scramble up some fallen rocks in the path as well! To get to the Upper Falls, it’ll be quite the trek up hill. Be extremely careful, most of the rocks are covered in moss and are very slippery!
DISCLAIMER: We haven’t been to every waterfall that’s out there. We will update this list as we see fit! There’s still so much exploring to do, and we are still working our way through the state. If you want more waterfall information, Romantic Asheville has an amazing collection!