North Carolina is home to some of nature’s most exceptional waterfalls. Visiting one of the many beautiful falls in the heart of the western NC mountains we think is one of the most exciting ways to spend your day in North Carolina. Now, we obviously don’t know where you live. But, if you’re searching for “waterfalls in NC near me”, you’ve come to the right place. Because this comprehensive list we believe is where you should start.
Our staff of Carolina travelers compiled this list to include ten of the most iconic falls in the state of NC. And unless you live in Eastern North Carolina, we’re pretty sure one of them is relatively close to you (within and hour or two! For those of you living in eastern North Carolina, all of these 10 are quite a far drive, but we think they are all 100% worth the trip.
Catawba Falls in Old Fort NC
This is one of the easiest waterfalls one can access. It is a short 1.2-mile hike with a very comfortable slope. It ends with a dripping cascade with pocket water and several pools. Here you can enjoy swimming in the cold but beautiful water. This waterfall is located just outside of Old Fort, NC. After you’re done on the water, head over to downtown Old Fort’s brewery Hillman Beer.
Linville Falls in Linville NC
One of the most popular North Carolina waterfalls is the Linville Falls in Linville. It comprises two viewpoints that both combined become a couple mile trek. This place is an easy hike for the kids as well as amateur hikers. A bonus viewpoint called the Chimney View Overlook is known for providing a complete picture of the falls. This viewpoint can be reached by continuing the hike for a few more miles.
Dry Falls in Highlands, NC
We all have wanted to stand behind a waterfall. Well, this Highlands waterfall gives you that chance. It is a 75 feet tall waterfall formed by the Cullasaja River falling directly over a sheer cliff. A small short staircase leads you down and then behind the curtain of water. The railings and sitting area under the shadow of mountains make your walk to the showers even more dramatic and beautiful.
Silver Run Falls in Cashiers, NC
A beautiful swimming spot right below the waterfall can be the highlight of any family vacation. Silver Run Falls is one such waterfall that pours into a pool on the edge of the forest. Only a few minutes walk away from the parking area, the 25ft Silver Run waterfall is a popular tourist spot in the summer season. We recommend going in the Spring or Fall and early in the morning to get this place all to yourself. And of course, this place can be heaven in winters as it doesn’t see many tourists due to heavy snowfall.
Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park
One of the most photographed North Carolina waterfalls, Rainbow Falls is a 150ft tall waterfall, that affords travelers a view from the top, side (where you can see the rainbow refracting off the falls, as well as the base. The hike to this fall is very easy, but somewhat long. Two mile one way gets you to the base! After you finish with this waterfall, Gorges State Park offers a lot of other opportunities including Whitewater Falls, the tallest fall east of the Mississippi.
Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest
Just a short drive for Asheville NC, Triple Falls is a three-stair waterfall popularized for its not only its size but also its proximity to other waterfalls. It is a 120 foot tall cascading waterfall. Visitors can use a staircase to walk down to the base of the falls where they can enjoy a closer view of the falls here. After Triple Falls, be sure to continue on the trail towards High Falls and then back towards the parking lot where you can see the smaller Hooker Falls and go for a swim.
Moore Cove Falls in Pisgah National Forest
This waterfall is just a couple miles from the popular Looking Glass Falls right inside of Brevard’s entrance to Pisgah National Forest. This is a very peaceful hike over Looking Glass Creek and through the forest. It’s a short hike of around half a mile to the falls. Once at Moore Cove, visitors can walk behind this stunning waterfall. This place is a very popular summer and weekend spot for families. You can enjoy some time alone on the weekdays as well.
Cullasaja Falls in Highlands, NC
This one is one of our editor JP’s favorite North Carolina waterfalls. Although roadside, not many venture to its base. And when you get to the base, the power of this fall (especially after a rain) really moves you. Cullasaja Falls is a massive waterfall located just outside of Western NC’s popular mountain town Highlands. It is a curvy, fast-flowing waterfall that can be viewed from a lookout point on the road or from the base. We don’t suggest walking to the base unless you are comfortable with steep (although short) mountain trails. Tall trees surround the waterfall in summer while winter brings the best views with no curtains of leaves. There are no official signs marking the right spot for the hike or the falls so you may have to backtrack for this one unless you keep a keen eye out on your ascent into town.
Schoolhouse Falls in Panthertown Valley
Panthertown is not as quiet as it used to be. However, it’s still a relatively lightly trafficked area which makes it a great place to retreat to for some mountain solitude. One of the more popular trails in this area is the small but picturesque 20’ waterfall Schoolhouse Falls. One of our favorite things about this waterfall is the giant swimming hole below the falls perfect for you and the fam. When you’re done cooling off in the crips mountain water, keep walking up the trail to see another Panthertown waterfall, Greenland Creek Falls. You may encounter some slippery rocks and water-sensitive plants here so please respect the area, stay on the trail, and be careful.
Harpers Creek Falls In Pisgah National Forest
Harpers Creek Falls is another breathtaking waterfall in NC. It is a beautiful but challenging hike. After the nearly two miles of walking you arrive at the base. A trail is also available if you want to get to the top of the falls but be careful if you opt to see from above. On your hike, you will encounter the river numerous times. Beautiful views of large swimming holes and cascading small falls are all along the trail by Harpers Creek. Then comes the blockbuster event, Harpers Creek Falls, a jaw-dropping waterfall with the ultimate swimming hole at its base. This a sight to remember for a lifetime. While visiting watch out for the Northern Water Snakes that like to sit at the base of the falls and grab fish that swim downstream.