North Carolina

Follow the Falls in North Carolina

Explore These 6 Natural Wonders in the Tar Heel State

From small streams to roaring rivers, you can find many different waterfalls in North Carolina. These natural wonders can be found in the woods, along the road, or hidden down a path. You can even discover some big enough to take a dip during the summertime. When you are in the Tar Heel State, you are never far away from a fantastic waterfall.     

Silver Run Falls / jared422_80 / Flickr

Silver Run Falls

Are you looking for a magnificent family-friendly waterfall for the kiddos to enjoy? Silver Run Falls is a 25-foot fall located south of Cashiers. You will have to hike down a trail, but it is less than a ¼ mile walk. At one point, you had to cross over a log, but now there is a bridge for everyone’s safety. Silver Run Falls is located in the Nantahala National Forest area, and it features a tranquil pool with a small beach area. This area is a popular spot for families during the warmer months. If you are looking for a more challenging hike, there is also a 15-foot waterfall located nearby. This trail is a bit steeper and has many switchbacks on the path. You don’t have to worry about leaving your dog at home either. Pets are welcomed on the trail as long as they are on a leash.

Rainbow Falls / bobistraveling / Flickr

Rainbow Falls

The Blue Ridge Mountains are the home of the Rainbow Falls. The 150-foot waterfall is one of the most impressive in the state. The falls get their name from the rainbow created by the shining sun. You might want to plan your visit after a rainstorm when the Horsepasture River swells and pushes through the falls. This spot offers a variety of views from the top, bottom, and sides. These falls are located in the Pisgah National Forest and near the Gorges State Park river. For those wanting to swim, you will want to check out the swimming hole at Turtleback Falls. Hidden Falls is another stop in this National Forest. Trails will lead you up to the main platform for the best views. The hike to the falls is often rated as moderate, but many people can walk it without too many difficulties. If you are looking to extend your visit, make sure to visit the Stairway Falls by traveling down the trail for a strenuous half-mile round-trip hike.



Looking Glass Falls, Pisgah National Forest / KimonBerlin / Flickr

Cathey’s Creek Falls

Another can’t-miss stop in Pisgah National Forest is Cathey’s Creek Falls. You can find this impressive water cascade off the unpaved forest service road. The falls rush down a rock slope and travel throughout the greenery and coves. Visitors can trek down the ¼ mile trail, but it can be slippery and steep in certain areas. This stop is so well-hidden that you cannot see it from the road, and there are no signs to mark the way. However, you will want to look for signs marked “Forest Service Road 471.” There will be a trail on the right of the road that travels steeply downhill. If all else fails and you’re still lost, just use your ears. The roaring water of the falls can be heard from the roadway.  If you are in the area, you may consider camping overnight in the park. You can find several campsites throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains. You may also want to visit the other falls in the area, including Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock.

Whitewater Falls / bobistraveling / Flickr

Whitewater Falls

For those wanting to visit the highest falls east of the Rockies, you can head over to Whitewater Falls in Jackson County. This massive waterfall tops out at 811 feet. Located on the Whitewater River, the Upper Falls plunges down 411 feet in the Nantahala National Forest. The Lower Falls are actually located in South Carolina and plummet 400 feet to the bottom of the ridge. You can follow a ¼ mile walkway to an upper overlook of the falls. There is a parking lot nearby with wheelchair access. If you are looking for a more spectacular view, the lower overlook is near the bottom of the wooden steps. With both of these overlooks, you can get a full view of the falls. Make sure you stick to the trails as the area can be quite dangerous for those not familiar with the terrain. The Foothills Trail is a more strenuous hike, but it will take you past the big rocks to a swimming hole.

Dry Falls / Josh Hallett / Flickr

Dry Falls

Want to walk behind a waterfall? You can do that at Dry Falls along the Cullasaja River. This spot is one of the most kid-friendly locations since it is an easy quarter-mile walk. As the 75-foot falls tumble over a cliff, you can walk behind the water and still stay dry. If you travel during the rainy season, the water levels may be higher. During that time, you might get sprayed by the water. The observation deck is located close to the nearby parking lot. Along the trail, you can find many places to snap a memorable photo. If you climb down the stairs, take the short walk to get a better view of the falls. For those lucky enough, you might even see a rainbow as the sun shines down.



Skinny Dip Falls / Jenn Deane / Flickr

Skinny Dip Falls

Skinny Dip Falls might not sound like a family-friendly swimming hole, but many people come from all over the state to relax in the cold water. This refreshing swimming pond is a great place to cool off in the summer. When it is not swimming weather, you can still take in the beautiful scenery. Find the trailhead from the Parkway overlook to get to the falls. Despite the name, it is not a clothing-optional location. For those wanting to jump off into the deep blue, the falls have a spot to plunge into a six-foot deep pool. If you don’t want to get soaking wet, there are plenty of places to wade and let your toes dip into the water.

Wherever you head in the Tar Heel State, you can find a magnificent view of a waterfall. When you travel to North Carolina, make sure to grab your camera for some of the best sights in the entire southeast region of the United States.

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