The Best Waterfalls in North Carolina

North Carolina is home to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the United States. From the towering cascades of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the hidden gems tucked away in the lush forests, these majestic waterfalls offer a mesmerizing sight for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. In this guide, we will explore some of the most stunning North Carolina waterfalls (plus some hiking trails) has to offer.

Catawba Falls

  • Hike Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Catawba Falls, North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Located in Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort, the 3-mile hike to Catawba Falls is a great experience for all adventurers. A moderate difficulty level leads you through a moss-covered forest to the majestic 100-foot cascade of the Catawba River.

The waterfall has many smaller falls, flowing around rocks. It's a great place to swim or have a picnic on the big rocks nearby. The hike back to the parking area offers time to reflect on the stunning natural beauty of this convenient McDowell County destination.

Catawba Falls offers both excitement and peace for beginners or experts in hiking, located in the center of North Carolina.

Crabtree Falls

  • Height: 70 feet
  • Hike Distance: 2.5 miles roundtrip
Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Crabtree Falls is a beautiful 70-foot waterfall located at Milepost 339.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's only a 45-mile drive from Asheville, North Carolina. With a choice of two distinct hiking routes, including a 2.5-mile loop trail, Crabtree Falls offers an accessible yet thrilling adventure.

Crabtree Falls plunges dramatically off a ledge, framed by the iconic Crabtree at its base. A nearby wooden bridge is ideal for photography or peaceful contemplation. The soothing sounds of the creek in the background enhance the experience.

Crabtree Falls in North Carolina is a stunning trail that is suitable for both beginners and experienced hikers. This trail is a must-visit for everyone!

Dry Falls

  • Height: 65 feet
  • Hike Distance: 0.25 miles roundtrip
Dry Falls Waterfall near Highlands NC

Close to Highlands, Dry Falls in North Carolina is a beautiful place to explore and see waterfalls in a unique way. This special 75-foot waterfall in Nantahala National Forest lets you walk behind it without getting wet, giving you an amazing experience.

Easily accessible off Highway 64, Dry Falls showcases the powerful beauty of the Cullasaja River. Despite its name, "Dry" Falls has a lot of flowing water.

Dry Falls in North Carolina is a must-visit attraction with easy parking, a short trail, and a stunning waterfall view. For those extending their journey, the Waterfall Byway and nearby gems like Bridal Veil Falls or Cullasaja Falls are nearby.

French Broad Falls (Mill Shoals)

  • Hike Distance: 0.5 miles roundtrip
Mill Shoals and French Broad Falls in Transylvania County in Western North Carolina

French Broad Falls is a peaceful and captivating escape, located near Rosman/Brevard. It is just a short drive from Living Waters Ministry on NC Highway 215. This modest 15-foot waterfall, situated in the heart of North Carolina, grants enthusiasts an intimate experience.

Directly accessible from the highway, the French Broad Falls reveals the gentle might of the local river systems. Though not towering in stature, it's the trail that leads to it, punctuated with multiple cascades, which truly enchants its visitors.

Glen Burney Falls

  • Hike Distance: 2.4 miles roundtrip
Water flowing in many streams over rock face with beautifully lit greenery above Glen Burney Falls near Blowing Rock, North Carolina, USA.

In the scenic town of Blowing Rock, Glen Burney Falls is a hidden gem among North Carolina's waterfalls. Just a stone's throw from downtown Blowing Rock, this 40-foot cascade offers a tranquil escape without venturing too far.

The 2.4-mile round-trip hike to the falls is moderately challenging due to its 500-foot elevation change but promises rewarding views. As a bonus, a short extension of the trail reveals the 60-foot Glen Marie Falls, enhancing the adventure.

Although the path may become busy, we recommend starting early. Safety is crucial, especially on wet terrain

Graveyard Fields

  • Hike Distance: 2/3 Mile Round Trip
The cascades of the Lower Falls in Graveyard Fields, a very popular waterfall and hiking destination near Asheville, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains off the Blue Ridge

Nestled along the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 418, Graveyard Fields offers an unforgettable hiking experience near Asheville. It is just a quick 0.3-mile walk from the parking lot to reach the first one, Lower Falls.

This trail in North Carolina is 3.2 miles long and showcases the state's beauty with wildflowers, rhododendrons, and blueberries to pick. Enjoy a dip or take a photo from the viewing platform.

Explore another hidden waterfall on the loop, the second waterfall, Upper Falls. Given its popularity, an early start is advised, especially during peak seasons.

High Falls

  • Hike Distance: 1.2 miles / 2 miles roundtrip
High Falls in Dupont State Forest North Carolina

Located in Dupont State Recreational Forest, High Falls is one of the most magnificent views in North Carolina. This waterfall is 150 feet tall and only a 45-minute drive from Asheville. Visitors can enjoy a 1.2-mile round trip hike to see the beautiful nature.

The trail, famously featured in the Hunger Games movie, guides you through woodlands to the cascading waters of the Little River.

Nearby, the equally enchanting Triple Falls and Hooker Falls beckon explorers. Consider visiting on weekdays to avoid the weekend rush.

Hickory Nut Falls

  • Height: 404 feet
  • Hike Distance: 2.8 miles round trip
Hickory Nut Falls in Chimney Rock State Park, North Carolina, United States

Tucked within Chimney Rock State Park, the majestic Hickory Nut Falls stands as a testament to North Carolina's natural wonders. At 404 feet tall, this waterfall is one of the tallest in the eastern US, impressing visitors with its grand size.

Hickory Nut Falls is a movie attraction and a natural wonder for nature lovers. It was featured in "The Last of the Mohicans." A 1.4-mile hike takes you to a viewing platform where you can see the beautiful cascade in all its glory. The falls are always attractive, with different backgrounds in each season, like green in summer and colorful leaves in autumn.

If you go farther, Chimney Rock is a must-see. The Exclamation Point Trail and other attractions make it even better. But, Hickory Nut Falls is the best part of visiting the area.

High Shoals Falls

  • Height: 80 feet
  • Hike Distance: 2.7 miles loop
Lower High Shoals Falls, South Mountains State Park, North Carolina

Nestled within South Mountains State Park, High Shoals Falls stands as a marvel of North Carolina's natural beauty. You can admire this impressive 80-foot waterfall after a 2.7-mile looped trail filled with vibrant wildflowers.

Despite the steep slopes, those who keep going are rewarded with an amazing view of the waterfall, from bottom to top.

Though the weekend sees its fair share of visitors, a weekday trip might just afford a more tranquil experience. For those venturing into North Carolina's outdoors, High Shoals Falls is a scenic treasure not to be missed.

Juney Whank Falls

  • Height: 90 feet
  • Hike Distance: 0.8 miles round trip
Juney Whank Falls Bryson City North Carolina

Located near Bryson City on the Deep Creek Trail, Juney Whank Falls is a captivating highlight of North Carolina's diverse landscapes. The trail is about a mile long round trip and is a moderately challenging hike. It leads to a waterfall that splits into two sections and falls a total of 90 feet.

Local legends suggest that the falls are named after Junaluska "Juney" Whank, who might be buried nearby. Remember, bicycles and pets are not allowed, ensuring a serene journey for all visitors.

Linville Falls

  • Hike Distance: 1.6 miles round trip (most popular trail)
Linville Falls, along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

Located along the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 316, Linville Falls stands as one of North Carolina's most illustrious waterfalls. This gem captivates with its three-tiered cascade set against the backdrop of the expansive Linville Gorge. Hikers can enjoy a 1.6-mile hike with a mix of easy and moderate terrain, leading to many viewpoints.

For a closer interaction with the falls, the Linville Gorge trail, stretching over .75 miles, descends right to the pools. To protect the natural wonder and keep everyone safe, rock climbing and swimming at Linville Falls are not allowed.

To enhance your trip, visit Famous Louise’s Rockhouse for delicious food, adding to your enjoyable Linville experience.

Looking Glass Falls

  • Height: 60 feet
  • Hike Distance: Roadside
Looking Glass Falls near Brevard in Pisgah National Forest

Located near Brevard in Pisgah National Forest, Looking Glass Falls is a 60-foot marvel easily accessed from the roadside. Just an hour from Asheville, it's a photographer's dream, especially when the nearby Looking Glass Rock glistens in winter sunlight.

For adventurers, trails from US 276 offer immersive experiences, while the base beckons with a refreshing swimming hole.

Though parking is plentiful, early or weekday visits are recommended. Attractions like Sliding Rock nearby make the trip better. No picnic spot at the falls, but nearby areas are peaceful. Remember to leave no trace, cherishing this North Carolina gem. For more info, check out our guide: Exploring Looking Glass Falls in NC: A Comprehensive Guide!

Lower Cascades Falls (Hanging Rock State Park)

  • Hike Distance: 0.8 miles roundtrip
Lower Cascades Falls (Hanging Rock State Park)

Experience the magic of North Carolina's waterfalls at Lower Cascades Falls in Hanging Rock State Park. Nestled near Westfield, this gem is a convenient escape for residents of Greensboro and the Triangle area.

The gentle hike is a birdwatcher's paradise, and if you have a furry friend, they're welcome to join on a leash. Start your day at Lower Cascades and explore the many other trails and sights at Hanging Rock State Park.

Mingo Falls

  • Height: 120 feet
  • Hike Distance: 320 Steps Roundtrip
Mingo Falls - Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Mingo Falls is a waterfall near Cherokee, North Carolina. It is only five miles from the Great Smoky National Park and is known as "Big Bear" in Cherokee. After a short hike, which includes 161 steps, visitors are greeted by the 120-foot waterfall cascading over moss-covered boulders.

The viewing bridge offers a perfect vantage point, especially in winter when the falls transform into a stunning frozen spectacle. Free parking and a short walk make Mingo Falls an amazing and kid-friendly wonder in North Carolina's Cherokee area.

Moore Cove Falls

  • Height: 50 feet
  • Hike Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
Mingo Falls - Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Moore Cove Falls is a peaceful waterfall in Pisgah National Forest, near Brevard, North Carolina, known as the "Land of Waterfalls." This 50-foot waterfall, near Looking Glass Falls, lets visitors walk behind it.

The 1.5-mile round-trip hike is perfect for families and visitors of all ages. If you're looking for a calm and beautiful place, Moore Cove Falls is a great choice.

Otter Falls

  • Hike Distance: 1.2 miles roundtrip
Otter Falls

Close to Banner Elk and Boone, in Seven Devils, this waterfall is accessed by a 1.2-mile hike. Starting at the trailhead on 825 Skyland Drive, visitors can follow color-coded paths to reach the falls.

The waterfall might be only 25 feet high, but its beauty, set against mossy rocks, is undeniable. The mountain forest is best to visit in spring, summer, and fall. But if you plan to visit in winter, check for any closures due to bad weather.

Roaring Fork Falls

  • Hike Distance: 1 mile roundtrip

Roaring Fork Falls is near the Blue Ridge Parkway, close to Mount Mitchell. It's a tall 100-foot waterfall surrounded by colorful wildflowers.

The trail to get there is only 1.4 miles round-trip and is pretty easy. It's less crowded than other nearby spots, like Setrock Creek Falls.

The waterfall ends in a calm pool that's perfect for a quick swim. There are also big rocks around, great for sitting and having a picnic. If you're in Pisgah National Forest, make sure to check it out!

Schoolhouse Falls

  • Hike Distance: 2.5 miles round trip
Schoolhouse Falls

Schoolhouse Falls is in Panthertown Valley near Cashiers. It can be reached by hiking 2.5 miles from Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead near Lake Toxaway.

The trail is of moderate difficulty, upon reaching the end, visitors are greeted by the sight of the waterfall gracefully flowing into a pool. The trail is also pet-friendly!

The surrounding area boasts additional waterfalls such as Greenland Creek Falls and Mac’s Falls.

Setrock Creek Falls

  • Height: 75 feet
  • Hike Distance: 0.4 miles roundtrip
Setrock Creek Falls

Setrock Creek Falls is a captivating 75-foot waterfall tucked away in the Burnsville region of Pisgah National Forest. Just a half-mile hike from the Black Mountain Campground, a popular starting point for various trails.

Near Milepost 344 on NC Highway 80, close to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a good option for those who prefer shorter hikes. Dogs are welcome but remember to leash them for everyone's safety.

Silver Run Falls

  • Height: 25 feet
  • Hike Distance: 500 feet

Silver Run Falls, a 25-foot waterfall, is just four miles south of Cashiers in the Nantahala National Forest. A short trail takes visitors to the base of a waterfall. The waterfall flows into a calm pool with a sandy beach. It's a great place for swimming or having a relaxed picnic.

There is limited parking, making it slightly challenging to access at times. The pool is ideal for families with kids. It has a gentle slope, making it safe for children.

Sliding Rock

  • Height: 60 feet
  • Hike Distance: Roadside
In Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, Sliding Rock

In Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, Sliding Rock offers a unique 60-foot natural waterslide experience. This waterfall attraction draws both thrill-seekers and families, sliding down into a refreshing pool.

For safety, lifeguards are present during the warmer season. There's a $4 entrance fee during peak season, and it's wise to wear an old swimsuit and water shoes. For more info, check out our guide: Tips and Tricks for a Safe and Fun Trip to Sliding Rock NC!

Soco Falls

  • Hike Distance: 200 feet or 0.2 miles roundtrip
Soco Falls, Between Maggie Valley and Cherokee

Between Maggie Valley and Cherokee, Soco Falls is a stunning twin waterfall spectacle. With two cascades merging gracefully at their base, this 30-foot wonder offers a picturesque view right off the road.

A short, manageable walk leads visitors to a viewing platform for a captivating overlook. The adventurous can opt for a steeper trail, aided by ropes, to get up close to the falls' base.

Tom’s Creek Falls

  • Hike Distance: 1 mile roundtrip
Tom’s Creek Falls,

Tucked within the expanse of Pisgah National Forest, near Asheville, is Tom’s Creek Falls. This 80-foot, two-tier waterfall provides a serene backdrop for families and hikers of all expertise.

The easily navigable trail, spanning about 120 feet, makes it kid-friendly. It offers both an accessible path and a dedicated observation deck.

Upper Whitewater Falls

  • Hike Distance: 0.6 miles roundtrip
Upper Whitewater Falls

Boasting a majestic 411-foot plunge, Upper Whitewater Falls stands tall as the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.

A brief, wheelchair-friendly walk from the parking lot provides a stunning view. For an even closer look, a 154-step wooden staircase descends to an optimal viewing platform. This natural wonder is located in Nantahala National Forest near Cashiers. It has picnic areas and washrooms, which makes it a must-visit day trip from Asheville.

Widow’s Creek Falls

  • Few hundred feet from the parking lot
Widow’s Creek Falls

Located in Stone Mountain State Park near Elkin, Widow’s Creek Falls is a top pick for many visitors. It's easy to get to, just a short walk from the parking lot. This 25-foot waterfall has a clear pool and areas perfect for picnics.

If you’re up for more exploring, there's also the 200-foot Stone Mountain Falls nearby.

Have fun exploring!

North Carolina boasts a rich tapestry of natural wonders, with its waterfalls standing out as captivating jewels. From easily accessible roadside views to adventurous hiking trails, these cascades offer something for everyone. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a family looking for a day trip, the waterfalls of North Carolina promise memories that will last a lifetime.

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Lost City NC started as an urban exploration page and quickly became a page to share new places to eat, travel to, and stay at here in North Carolina. Read More!

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