The mountains and foothills of Western North Carolina are laced with waterfalls, from the majestic Whitewater Falls, highest east of the Mississippi, to simple, small, burbling but beautiful falls found in branches and creeks, especially after a rain.
The beauty of these natural wonders offers spiritual as well as physical refreshment and renewal. The chilly mountain waters at the foot of many falls collects in natural swimming holes. Wildlife drink from the crystal clear waters, anglers search out trout that lurk beneath the surface at the foot of many waterfalls. (Photo: Whitewater Falls by Mark File, romanticasheville.com.)
Land of the Waterfalls
Transylvania County, which is blessed with an abundance of waterfalls, bills itself as the “Land of Waterfalls.” Twenty-one named falls lie within the lush forests of that county, luring hikers, mountain bikers, anglers, horseback riders, and nature lovers. Download a Waterfall Guide from their website. Shown here, High Falls in DuPont State Forest.
Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock State Park
Another stunning high waterfalls is Hickory Nut Falls, within Chimney Rock State Park, which plunges a dramatic 400 feet from the top of the mountain into the Rocky Broad River below. The falls can be reached by taking a gentle walk via the park’s Hickory Nut Falls trail to a platform at its bottom.
A Wealth of Waterfalls in DuPont State Forest
DuPont State Forest, near Brevard, boasts numerous waterfalls, including Hooker Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, High Falls and Triple Falls. This state forest is a great place for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, as well as waterfall looking. Twice a year, the Friends of DuPont Forest sponsor the Tour de Falls, a 12 mile tour by shuttle bus to four of the spectacular sites in the forest. Shown here, Hooker Falls.
Waterfall in a Nature Park
Pearson’s Falls near Tryon is a lovely 90-foot waterfall within a verdant glen known for remarkable biodiversity. Visitors can enjoy the native wildflower garden, as well as the over 200 ferns, flowering plants, algae, and mosses by hiking a quarter-mile trail. Pearson’s Falls is a great place for a picnic.
Waterfalls Near Cherokee
Mingo Falls, on the Qualla Boundary, home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is a favorite waterfall destination for hikers and anglers in the far western corner of North Carolina. Three other falls are accessible from the Deep Creek Trailhead near Bryson City. It’s an easy hike from the trailhead to Juneywhank Falls, Tom Branch Falls and Indian Creek Falls.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The high elevation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park receives over 85″ of rainfall on average each year, abundant water that feeds well over a hundred waterfalls along the park’s many miles of scenic streams. The bigger waterfalls such as Grotto, Laurel, Abrams, and Rainbow attract large crowds, but smaller cascades and falls can be found on nearly every river and stream in the park.
Waterfalls in the Far West
Yellow Creek Falls, Middle Falls, and Sassafras Falls are worth seeking out in Graham County in the far western part of the region.
Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfalls
Crabtree Falls, accessed from the Crabtree Meadows Recreation Area at MP 339.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a majestic 70′ waterfall, which some claim is one of the most photogenic in the area. In the early summer, the Meadows are filled with wildflowers, including hawthorne, beard tongue, mountain laurel, and gentian.
Linville Falls, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 316, drops a total of 90 feet in a multi-level cascading waterfall and can be viewed from several overlooks along two trails that lead from the Linville Falls Visitors Center. The 0.8-mile Erwins View Trail also leads to an overlook offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the Linville Gorge, deepest gorge east of the Mississippi.
Check out the Top 25 NC Waterfalls Guide, from romanticasheville.com for a more complete list of these natural heritage treasures of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.