Waterfalls in Western North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina are home to many beautiful waterfalls. People travel from all across the country to see them. There are more than 250 falls in our immediate area. Below is a selection to get you started; be sure to read the driving directions, as some falls are most easily visited in sequence. Also, see our list of hiking trails near the Cashiers/Highlands area.

More information: Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests Recreational Guide (pdf)

Please follow these basic rules when visiting waterfalls:

  • NEVER wade or walk on the rocks above or around waterfalls; even when dry, the rocks can be very slippery, and a slip can be fatal! Admiring waterfalls from a distance is safer and offers better views and photo opportunities
  • Stay on the marked trail; avoid shortcuts
  • Stay behind guard rails and heed all caution signs
  • Tread carefully to avoid stepping on plants and flowers; leave them as you found them for others to enjoy
  • Dispose of garbage properly
  • Keep dogs on leashes
  • Do not drink or carry alcoholic beverages; it is illegal

Bridal Veil Falls

Height: 120 feet
This unique waterfall cascades right over Highway 64 and sometimes features a rainbow in the afternoon sun. You can either view the falls from the highway or drive right underneath them. Bridal Veil Falls is one of three main waterfalls in the Cullasaja Gorge.

Directions: From Cashiers, take Highway 64 West for 10 miles into Highlands. Turn right at the second red light, continuing on Highway 64 for 2.8 miles to the falls on your right.

Dry Falls

Height: 75 feet
Part of the Cullasaja Gorge in the Nantahala National Forest, Dry Falls earned its name because you can take a trail to walk behind the falls and not get wet (don't count on that last part). This is a massive, thundering waterfall that is not to be missed!

Directions: Continue past Bridal Veil Falls for .9 mile to a Forest Service parking area on the left. Follow the stone staircase to the falls, which cascade overhead. A short path takes you behind this waterfall. The $2 parking fee also covers same-day entrance to Whitewater Falls; just be sure to save your receipt.

Glen Falls

Height: Three 80-foot falls
Follow the well-marked trail to view the three sections of waterfalls. You can complete the short hike to only see the first of the falls, or continue further to see the next two.

Directions: From Highlands, take Highway 106 towards Dillard, GA. In three miles, you will see the sign for Glen Falls. A gravel road leads to the Glen Falls parking area.

High Falls

Height: 120 feet
Also known as Cullowhee Falls, this waterfall is just below the Lake Glenville Dam. It becomes a stunningly powerful waterfall when the dam is released on certain days throughout the year, making it very popular with kayakers. The hike is extremely strenuous on the way back up.

Directions: From Cashiers, follow Highway 107 north and turn left on Pine Creek Road. In two miles, look for the High Falls sign on the right (across from the Pines Recreation Area).

Hurricane Falls

Height: 30-40 feet
Scenic Hurricane Falls empties into Lake Glenville. Although hiking down to the fall is not advised, you can enjoy a great view of it from the roadside. Or, you can access it by boat. Boat rentals are readily available on Lake Glenville. Take along some lunch and enjoy a very special picnic on the water.

Directions: From Cashiers, take Highway 107 North 2 miles and make a left onto Norton Road. Follow road for .5 mile to a pull-off area just past the bridge.

Kalakaleskies Falls

18 small falls within 1/4 mile
Be very careful when hiking this trail; the river banks are very steep and taking young children below the dam is not recommended.

Directions: From Highlands, take Highway 64 West from the intersection of Highway 64 and 28. In 1.9 miles, a pull-off parking area will be on your left.

Looking Glass Falls

Height: 60 feet
One of the most popular waterfalls in Western North Carolina, Looking Glass Falls is actually a stunning 30-foot wide cascade over a sloped 60-foot surface of polished granite — Looking Glass Rock. It resembles a mirror (or "looking glass") in the winter, as water freezes on its sides and reflects the sun. Looking Glass Creek flows past the falls through Pisgah National Forest.

Directions: From the intersection of Highway 107 and Highway 64 in Cashiers, drive east on Highway 64 for 32.7 miles. Turn left (north) onto US 276 and continue for 5.9 miles. Park on the right. View the falls from the roadside, or descend a stone staircase to the bottom of the falls.

Lower Cullasaja Falls

Height: 250 feet
The rushing waters of the Cullasaja River flow over the Lower Cullasaja falls, in the Cullasaja Gorge. At 250 feet high, these falls are spectacular and are part of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway. They can easily be viewed from the road; it is not safe to try and hike down to the base of the falls.

Directions: From Dry Falls, continue on Highway 64 for 3.3 miles. Pull off to the left onto gravel for a view of the upper falls. Continue another 2.4 miles on Highway 64. and pull off to the left side of the road for a view of the lower falls. You can also pass the pull-off, find a safe place to turn around and then go back and enter the pull-off facing the falls. Be sure to pull your vehicle off the road completely, as passing trucks need two lanes to navigate the adjacent curve. Be careful!

Silver Run Falls

Height: 25 feet
The lower portion of Silver Run Falls cascades over a rock ledge into an enchanting tree-lined pool. There is also a sandy beach, making this a fun swimming and picnic area that is popular with both tourists and locals.

Directions: Take Highway 107 South approximately 4.3 miles to gravel parking on the left. A brown Forest Service sign marks the area. Follow the short trail and cross a small footbridge over the Whitewater River to reach the falls.

Sliding Rock Falls

Length: 10 feet
Created by the Chattooga River, this natural waterslide glides over a 10-foot high rock face with a few large potholes. The water is quite cool, making it a popular spot during the summer. Visitors can slide down the rock, cannonball into one of the potholes or just wade in the pool below the rock.

Directions: From Cashiers, take Highway 107 South for 1.9 miles. Turn right onto Whiteside Cove Road and go another 2.8 miles to the bridge over the Chattooga River.

Toxaway Falls

Height: 150 feet
You may have driven over this waterfall without even realizing it! There is no hike necessary to view this waterfall. 

Directions: From Cashiers, drive east on Highway 64 for about 14 miles. Look for a large masonry bridge with the damn on the left. Cross the bridge to park on the gravel area on the left side. Carefully cross Highway 64 to view the falls on the south side.

Turtleback and Rainbow Falls

Height: 150 feet
Go on a sunny morning to see rainbows over the falls. The trail is moderately difficult and may not be suited for young children. 

Directions: From Cashiers, drive east on Highway 64 for 10.5 miles, then turn right to go south on 281 for approximately one mile until you see signs for Rainbow Falls on the left. There is parking on the right. Once on the trail, walk for one mile until the trail intersects the river, then turn left to view the falls from below.

Whitewater Falls

Height: 411 feet
Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. These amazing falls plunge over 400 feet into the river below. Because of the rugged terrain with steep slopes and rock cliffs, the area is mostly wild. Undisturbed by man, many varieties of ferns, mosses, fungi flourish, along with beautiful native plants, wildflowers, and berries.

Directions: From Cashiers, drive south on Highway 107 for 9.3 miles. Shortly after crossing the state line into South Carolina, turn left at the sign for Whitewater Falls. Continue 2.3 miles to the intersection with SC 130, which becomes NC 281 at the North Carolina state line. Just beyond this point is a sign for the entrance to Whitewater Falls.

More information: Whitewater Falls Recreation Area Guide (pdf)