9 Most Amazing Waterfalls in North Carolina (2023)
Are there any waterfalls in North Carolina? Well, the beautiful State of North Carolina is blessed with hundreds of alluring waterfalls. The Brevard area alone is home to over 250 huge and luscious falls. While some waterfalls involve a bit of hiking, others are easy to reach and offer a clean pool for swimming underneath. North Carolina waterfalls are within driving distance from cities like Asheville, and many are within proximity to quaint mountain towns. The variety and range of falls here aim to provide a different experience.
When in North Carolina, you are never too far away from an amazing waterfall. Especially in the western part of the state, waterfalls are literally in abundance. Some of North Carolina’s richest and most beautiful waterfalls are even seen from the easy roadside. Do you know, several of them are even right on the Blue Ridge Parkway. North Carolina waterfalls are an unforgettable sight and a must-see for everyone.
9 Most Amazing Waterfalls in North Carolina
With so much information on your court, why not let’s find some Best Waterfalls in North Carolina together? Let’s get started:
1. Dry Falls
The most amazing waterfall in North Carolina, Dry Falls, is a must-visit for every local and visitor. Dry Falls is located near the town of Highlands, just off U.S. Highway 64. A part of Nantahala National Forest, Dry Falls is an impressive spectacle that allows individuals to get on an observation deck and enjoy the visuals from close. Right from the parking lot leads a short set of stairs to a railed walkway that surrounds the waterfall from 3 sides. Just 75 feet high, Dry Falls offers an impressive display as the water jumps off a high ridge into the riverbed below. Though the entire walkway offers excellent views, individuals prefer standing under the fall and watching water drop from their front.
Dry Falls is just 3 miles from Highland and a little over 1.5 hours from Asheville. Accessible for all, the walkway welcomes wheelchairs and strollers as well.
2. Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls is undoubtedly the most scenic waterfall in North Carolina. This 60-foot-tall awe-inspiring waterfall ledge to a shallow pool below just off the town of Brevard. While driving through Highway 276, located in the parking lot, take the short walking trail and reach the viewpoint overlooking the falls. The hike in and out is less than half a mile and is suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. Spectators can either spot views from the parking area or the viewing point. However, for adventure lovers, there is a small staircase leading right towards the pool of the Looking Glass Falls. The area is quite popular for swimming, and therefore summers here are quite crowded.
Though swimming at the pool is safe, watch out for slippery stones.
3. Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls is another incredible waterfall in North Carolina that you can’t afford to miss. Cascading 150 feet over a rocky ledge, it boasts impressive 360-degree views along with a spectacular show of whitewater and spray. The waterfall got its name after the fact that every ray of sunlight falling on the mist emanating from the falls forms a rainbow. So if you are watching the fall in the sunlight and from the right direction, you will be amazed by the views. No wonder Rainbow falls is a photographer’s dream. Reaching the waterfall requires a strenuous 1.5-mile hike descending most of the way gradually. The trailhead is just off the park’s parking lot on Grassy Ridge Road. Even though it takes some extra effort, the views ultimately make it worth it. Besides observing the views, visitors can also access the swimming area to cool off on a hot sunny day.
4. Whitewater Falls
Probably the tallest waterfall in North Carolina, the Whitewater Falls impresses with its 411 feet drop. The one in North Carolina is the Upper Whitewater fall, which flows down 411 feet, whereas the lower fall, 400 feet high, is in South Carolina. This humungous waterfall is surrounded by lush vegetation that adds to a unique visual. Take a quarter-mile walk from Nantahala National Forest’s parking lot to reach the fall. Later, step down 154 stairs, and you will reach a viewing platform for even more impressive views. However, individuals with mobility issues can stop above the stairs since the waterfall is even seen from there. Whitewater Falls is a photographer’s dream, and enthusiasts from both North and South Carolina choose it as their go-to spot. The park’s parking lot also features picnic areas, barbecues, washrooms, and green spaces to relax.
5. Soco Falls
Soco Falls is a unique and majestic waterfall to visit in North Carolina. It is just 11 miles east of Cherokee near Maggie Valley, close to the main road. Individuals can pull their vehicle to the side of the road, take a short hike and enjoy the views of Soco. Even a long, strenuous, and slippery trail takes hikers to the bottom of the fall. The Soco Waterfall is where two rivers meet and tumble over a ledge forming one stream below. It is ideal for a year-round visit but especially during the snow melt season and during/ after the monsoon season. While driving west on the highway, individuals can find a small sign indicating Soco Fall; however, it is quite easy to miss. It is better to pay extra attention while driving if you are very sure to visit.
6. Sliding Rock Falls
Located in Pisgah National Forest along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, the Sliding Rock Falls is one of the most-visited waterfalls in North Carolina. More than just being a pretty site, it excites individuals with its uniqueness and accessibility. This 60 feet inclining fall make clean and clear water gush over smooth rocks, finally collecting into a deep pool. Individuals can access the fall, climb on its edge and slide down towards the pool for ultimate fun and recreation. During summers, there are safeguards monitoring the crowd. For visitors’ ease, there are changing rooms nearby the waterfall. Or individuals who aren’t in the mood to take a waterfall dip, there’s an overlook above where one can sit and observe. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the waterfall is accessible for a minimal fee.
7. Catawba Falls
Another waterfall in the Pisgah National Forest, the Catawba Falls, is one of the most incredible falls to visit in North Carolina. Catawba Falls is divided into upper, middle, and lower sections, which drop over 100 feet to large pools below. Several waterfalls plunging over and around large boulders gives it a dramatic yet exciting appeal. For reaching the waterfall, access the trailhead off Interstate 40 at exit 73. Now take a three-mile drive to the end of Catawba River Drive, join the uphill trail for 1.2 miles, and you will ultimately reach the base of the waterfall. The hike is a little challenging; however, individuals of all fitness levels can manage it.
8. Skinny Dip Falls
North Carolina is full of unique waterfalls, and the Skinny Dip Falls is another example of the same. This cool summer escape is located high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just off the highway. The waterfall crashing down a series of ledges and large boulders below into a deep pool is a sight to see. The surrounding, though, gives it a dangerous look; however, the fall is pretty safe. To reach the fall, a well-maintained trail (to and from) reaches the wooden overlook. The trailhead isn’t marked but is across the road at the east end of the parking lot for the Looking Glass Rock overlook. Enthusiasts can particularly look for the Mountains to Sea Trail sign and then head to their destination. Skinny Dip Falls and the other waterfalls nearby become quite popular during summer; thus, finding a parking lot after 11 am or 12 pm can become a task (reach early).
9. Linville Falls
Linville is a three-tiered beautiful waterfall that tumbles 90 feet into the Linville Gorge. What adds to its dramatically appealing appearance are the Jagged cliff walls and lush green trees hanging on both its sides. Multiple trails lead to the fall, some short, some long, but all easy to access. Many of them leave from the Visitors Center at milepost 316.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The primary 1.6-mile (round-trip) trail stops at several lookout areas and then ultimately takes you to an overlook between the upper and lower falls. Individuals who can hike slightly more can continue to the Chimney View overlook for a better view. For taking a dip down into the pool, continue on the .75-mile-long Linville Gorge trail. The pool, though, is excellent for swimming; however unsafe for individuals who aren’t well versed in swimming.
Other Popular Waterfalls to Check Out When in North Carolina
- High Falls and Triple Falls, Dupont State Park
- Lower Falls at Graveyard Fields
- Crabtree Falls (One of the most spectacular waterfalls in North Carolina)
- Moore Cove Falls (A picturesque waterfall featuring a cave behind)