Exploring the natural wonders of North Carolina reveals a breathtaking world of cascades nestled within its landscapes. Among these, the waterfalls in North Carolina stand out as must-visit destinations for any nature lover or outdoor enthusiast. From the towering heights of Whitewater Falls, a jewel in the Appalachian Mountains that boasts being the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies, to the enchanting experience of walking behind the veil of water at Dry Falls, each site offers a unique adventure.
These destinations not only captivate with their beauty and power but also provide serene spots for picnics, invigorating hikes through lush trails, and the chance for a refreshing dip in crystal-clear pools. As we unveil 12 of the best waterfalls in North Carolina, we invite you to immerse yourself in their splendor, capturing moments that will linger in your memory long after your visit.
What are the biggest waterfalls in North Carolina?
The biggest waterfalls in North Carolina include Whitewater Falls, which is the tallest in the Eastern U.S. with a plunge of 411 feet. Another significant cascade is Upper Whitewater Falls, part of the same waterfall system, offering a stunning drop.
Additionally, Linville Falls, with its multiple stages culminating in a dramatic final plunge, is among the largest by volume and visual impact. These natural wonders showcase the state’s diverse and majestic landscape, drawing visitors from near and far to experience their grandeur.
How Many Waterfalls in North Carolina?
If you love waterfalls, you will love North Carolina. The state has over 250 waterfalls that have been documented, and they are all different and beautiful. You can find waterfalls in North Carolina in various terrains, from the mountains to the coast.
Some waterfalls are big and impressive, while others are small and peaceful. No matter what kind of waterfall you prefer, you can find it in North Carolina. There are many places where you can explore and enjoy the waterfalls in North Carolina.
Map of Waterfalls in North Carolina
To help you discover the beauty of waterfalls in North Carolina, we’ve designed an interactive Google map below. This convenient tool allows you to locate waterfalls close to you, offering a glimpse into each spot through ratings and photos. Dive into your exploration of North Carolina’s stunning waterfalls, ensuring you don’t miss out on these natural wonders.
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Discover the Top 12 Breathtaking Waterfalls in North Carolina
North Carolina has many waterfalls. You can see them in different places, from high hills to flat lands. The waterfalls in North Carolina show how beautiful the state is. Every waterfall has a story of how it falls down and makes the place green. Get ready for a fun trip with lots of beauty and nature.
1. Whitewater Falls
Exploring the natural wonders of the Tar Heel State led me to Whitewater Falls, a jewel among the waterfalls in North Carolina. This magnificent cascade plummets an awe-inspiring 811 feet, making it a must-see on any outdoor enthusiast’s itinerary. Nestled in the lush expanses of Nantahala National Forest near Cashiers, the falls are easily accessible.
A short, quarter-mile stroll on a paved path brings you to the first vantage point, while those craving a closer look can venture down 154 stairs to a lower platform. The sight of Whitewater Falls, with its powerful tiers and serene surroundings, offers an unforgettable natural retreat.
2. Dry Falls
Nestled in the heart of the scenic landscapes near Highlands, Dry Falls is a standout feature among the enchanting waterfalls in North Carolina. This 65-foot marvel allows an extraordinary experience: walking behind its cascading curtain without a drop of water on you.
Just off US Highway 64, a brief and easy trail leads adventurers from the parking area directly to this natural spectacle. Dry Falls invites visitors into a unique interaction with nature, blending the thrill of being behind a waterfall with the comfort of remaining dry, making it a cherished destination for those exploring North Carolina’s natural beauty.
3. Linville Falls
Linville Falls stands as another breathtaking waterfall accessible from various viewpoints along the Blue Ridge Parkway, making it a must-see among Waterfalls in North Carolina. Plummeting 90 feet in three tiers into the Linville Gorge, it crafts a powerful and dramatic spectacle. Opt for one of four trails, catering to different difficulty levels, to reach this awe-inspiring natural wonder and immerse yourself in the mesmerizing beauty of Linville Falls along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.
4. Catawba Falls
Amid the verdant expanses of Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort, Catawba Falls emerges as a stunning highlight among the myriad of waterfalls in North Carolina. This three-tiered wonder stretches skyward to 100 feet, nestled within a vibrant tapestry of greenery and moss-draped stones.
The journey to this natural masterpiece unfolds along a 3-mile round trip hike beside the gentle flow of the Catawba River. While the path remains welcoming and mostly level, a thrilling climax awaits with a scramble and log bridge crossing, adding a dash of adventure for those drawn to the serene beauty of Catawba Falls.
5. High Falls and Triple Falls, Dupont State Park
Nestled in Dupont State Forest, a haven for waterfall enthusiasts, lies a treasure trove of natural beauty, prominently featuring High Falls and Triple Falls. This area stands out as a prime example of the captivating waterfalls in North Carolina, easily accessible via a manageable 3-mile loop trail.
The trail invites adventurers to explore High Falls, with its awe-inspiring 150-foot drop creating a vast pool below, and Triple Falls, a unique sequence of three waterfalls that together span 120 feet. This picturesque setting offers an ideal backdrop for a nature walk, showcasing the splendor of North Carolina’s waterfall-rich landscape in a single, accessible location.
6. Crabtree Falls
Nestled just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 339.5, Crabtree Falls presents a breathtaking addition to the collection of waterfalls in North Carolina. This captivating 70-foot waterfall gracefully descends over a rocky ledge into a tranquil pool below, offering a picturesque spectacle.
Accessible through a 2.5-mile loop trail that starts at the Crabtree Falls campground, the journey to this natural wonder is as rewarding as the destination itself. The trail, with its moderate challenge, unveils diverse viewpoints of the falls, making it a favored hike among nature lovers seeking to immerse themselves in the serene beauty of Crabtree Falls.
7. Lower Falls at Graveyard Fields
In the enchanting high-elevation valley of Graveyard Fields, nestled along the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 418.8, lies the captivating Lower Falls. This gem among the waterfalls in North Carolina offers an exhilarating experience with its 55-foot cascade into a welcoming pool perfect for swimming.
Accessible via a 3.2-mile loop trail that begins in the conveniently located parking area, Lower Falls is surrounded by a vibrant tapestry of wildflowers, blueberries, and rhododendrons, setting the stage for a picturesque adventure. Embark on this trail to immerse yourself in the unique beauty and refreshing embrace of Lower Falls.
8. Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls, among the most easily accessible and picturesque waterfalls in North Carolina, is visible from the roadside along US Highway 276 near Brevard. Standing at a height of 60 feet, it gracefully descends over a rock face, reminiscent of a mirror, giving it the name Looking Glass. Visitors can enhance their experience by descending a set of stairs to achieve a closer view of this waterfall, allowing them to feel the refreshing mist on their faces. Explore the charm of Looking Glass Falls among the notable waterfalls in North Carolina.
9. Mingo Falls
Located near the town of Cherokee, in the heart of Cherokee Indian territory, Mingo Falls stands as a towering testament to the natural beauty of the southern Appalachians and a jewel among the waterfalls in North Carolina.
This impressive cascade soars to a height of 120 feet, making it one of the tallest waterfalls in the region. Access is granted via a manageable trek on the Pigeon Creek Trail from Mingo Falls Campground, with about 160 steps leading to a viewing platform that offers panoramic views of the waterfall and its lush surroundings. Mingo Falls offers a blend of natural splendor and cultural enrichment, inviting visitors to explore its beauty and delve into Cherokee heritage.
10. Sliding Rock Falls
Sliding Rock Falls in Pisgah National Forest, near Brevard, transforms the concept of waterfalls in North Carolina into an exhilarating adventure. This natural water slide, a favorite among visitors each year, stretches 60 feet in length with an 11-foot drop into a refreshing 7-foot-deep pool.
The smooth rock surface provides the perfect slide, making it a unique addition to the state’s natural attractions. With amenities like parking, restrooms, and lifeguards during the summer months, Sliding Rock Falls ensures a fun and safe experience for everyone looking to cool off in a spectacular natural setting.
11. Roaring Fork Falls
Roaring Fork Falls, nestled near Mount Mitchell, the pinnacle of North Carolina’s lofty peaks, offers a picturesque retreat for those captivated by the allure of waterfalls in North Carolina. This gracefully tiered waterfall is visible from a road adjacent to the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, adding to the charm of this mountainous region.
A leisurely 20-minute hike through a forest rich with verdant trees and blooming flowers leads visitors to this tranquil spot. Upon arrival, the soothing sounds of cascading water, coupled with the sight of rocks and flora, make Roaring Fork Falls an idyllic location for nature lovers and photographers alike.
12. Hickory Nut Falls
Nestled within Chimney Rock State Park, Hickory Nut Falls presents itself as a monumental addition to the pantheon of waterfalls in North Carolina. Towering at an impressive 404 feet, it surpasses the length of a football field in height, offering a breathtaking spectacle.
A moderately easy 1.4-mile trail, taking roughly an hour to traverse, leads visitors through a verdant landscape adorned with diverse trees and flowers, culminating at the base of the falls. Here, the powerful cascade creates a mesmerizing sound and a fine mist, occasionally casting rainbows in its spray. Hickory Nut Falls is an exquisite destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in the splendor of nature.