15 Amazing Waterfalls in North Carolina

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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North Carolina is home to many different types of waterfalls.

Some waterfalls you can swim in, some you can see from the road, and others involve a bit of hiking.

Each waterfall offers a different experience, and most times children enjoy the ones they can swim in the best.

In the Brevard area of North Carolina alone, there are over 250 waterfalls to enjoy.

You are never too far away from a waterfall, so let’s take a look at the 15 amazing waterfalls in North Carolina to get you on your way.

1. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls, North CarolinaSource: TheBigMK / shutterstock
Rainbow Falls, North Carolina

Rainbow Falls is a 150-foot waterfall that boasts impressive 360-degree views.

It is one of the most incredible waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This waterfall is named Rainbow Falls because on sunny days after the mist rolls out, you will be able to see a rainbow.

Rainbow Falls is located one hour away from Asheville and near Lake Toxaway.

These falls are only one sequence of cascades on a two-mile section of the canal.

You can climb up the river 1/3 of a mile and go swimming in Turtleback Fall’s swimming hole.

2. Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls, North CarolinaSource: Gennady Stetsenko / shutterstock
Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls is located one hour outside of downtown Asheville.

It’s notorious for being the tallest waterfall on the east side of the Rocky Mountains.

The upper falls flow down 411 feet and can be accessed by a pathway in North Carolina, and the lower falls – which are 400-feet high – can be accessed from South Carolina.

It’s definitely a neat place to visit and you can check out two waterfalls in one go.

Not only that, but you see two states while you are at it.

Whitewater Falls is North Carolina’s best place to visit and take photographs.

3. Soco Falls

Soco Falls, North CarolinaSource: Harry Zimmerman / shutterstock
Soco Falls

Soco Falls are some of the most majestic falls in North Carolina because of the rock formations and double waterfalls.

Soco Falls is located 11 miles east of Cherokee, as if you were heading to Maggie Valley.

You can pull your vehicle off to the right side of the road and it’s only a short hike to reach the falls, which are great to visit any time of the year.

4. Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls, North CarolinaSource: outdoorimages / shutterstock
Crabtree Falls

Just past the visitor center at Crabtree Falls Campground, you will come to the trailhead for Crabtree Falls.

The trail involves a steep elevation, but most people should be able to handle it.

Crabtree Falls is beautiful because of the hike in.

You will see wooden bridges at the base of the falls, colorful flowers (depending on the season) and best of all, one of the most picturesque falls in North Carolina.

You can find Crabtree Falls just off the Blue Ridge Parkway to the north of Asheville.

5. Dry Falls

Dry Falls, North CarolinaSource: Dave Allen Photography / shutterstock
Dry Falls

Dry Falls is a kid-friendly hike with only a quarter of a mile trail to reach the falls.

You will walk behind the pictorial falls on the Cullasaja River – which is close to the highlands – as well as in the Nantahala National Forest.

Many people consider Dry Falls as one of the easiest and most striking waterfalls in North Carolina.

The waterfall itself is 65 feet high and tumbles over a rock cliff into a riverbed below.

You can access the waterfall with a wheelchair and stroller.

The drive to Dry Falls is scenic, as you will be passing through the Cullasaja Gorge.

6. Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls, North CarolinaSource: Dave Allen Photography / shutterstock
Looking Glass Falls

Not too far off the Blue Ridge Parkway, close to Brevard, you will find Looking Glass Falls.

You can see views of the falls from the road, but the scenes are best enjoyed up close and personal.

The hike in and out is less than half a mile and is easy for all levels of hikers.

Looking Glass Falls is a tall waterfall that towers down from a cliff.

You can dip your toes in the bottom pool of the falls to cool off in the summer months.

7. Bust Your Butt Falls

Bust Your Butt Falls, North CarolinaSource: Carol A Hudson / shutterstock
Bust Your Butt Falls

If you are looking at visiting Dry Falls, Bust Your Butt Falls is only three miles from there or 10 miles from Franklin.

Bust Your Butt Falls is a favorite for people who enjoy climbing and adventure.

Many people climb up the falls and jump off – that is probably where the name came from.

This place is also known as Quarry Falls and is located on the Cullasaja River near the highlands.

For those who just want to sit back and relax, there are many rocks to sit on and enjoy sun tanning, picnicking, or just watching people swim in the swimming hole.

These falls are popular year-round.

8. Skinny Dip Falls

Skinny Dip Falls, North CarolinaSource: Steve Bower / shutterstock
Skinny Dip Falls

Skinny Dip Falls is another waterfall that many people utilize for swimming.

It is quite refreshing to jump in the swimming hole on a summer day and enjoy the views up close.

There are multiple cascades and pools at Skinny Dip Falls and the waterfall is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Don’t get distracted by the name, you should wear clothes when swimming in Skinny Dip Falls.

The trail to reach the falls has a few rocks to bypass, but it is easy and accessible for all ages.

You will come across a bench and a staircase at the end of the trail – you will need to follow the stairs down to the falls.

9. DuPont State Recreational Forest

DuPont State Recreational Forest WaterfallSource: Dave Allen Photography / shutterstock
DuPont State Recreational Forest Waterfall

DuPont State Recreational Forest features many waterfalls, hikes and lookout points.

It’s definitely a nature lover’s paradise.

DuPont State Recreational Forest has around 90 miles of trails that spread across 10,000 acres of protected land.

DuPont State Recreational Forest is located 40 miles from Asheville, in between Brevard and Hendersonville.

Some of the best views in the forest are from the top of Cedar Rock and Stone Mountain.

Many people enjoy horseback riding and mountain biking in this area.

Admission is free and there is a three mile or seven-mile waterfall hike depending on the time you have.

You can easily visit High Falls, which is only a 1.2-mile trek in total.

10. Mingo Falls

Mingo Falls, North CarolinaSource: Gino Santa Maria / shutterstock
Mingo Falls

Mingo Falls is popular amongst people from all throughout America.

This waterfall is open every day and is free to the public.

Located around five minutes from the Smoky Mountains National Park, Mingo Falls is a favorite to everyone who visits.

At approximately 120 feet tall, it is one of the highest waterfalls in southern Appalachia.

In order to reach the falls, you must follow a somewhat intense path; it’s only ¼ of a mile, but you will need to climb 161 steps to reach the falls.

The steps can be slippery in the morning from the fog, and people needing extra assistance should be careful.

11. Linville Falls

Linville Falls, North CarolinaSource: Mary Terriberry / shutterstock
Linville Falls

Linville Falls is a three-tiered waterfall that flows into the Linville Gorge, which is also referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians.

The distance from the trailhead to the falls and back is only 1.6 miles.

The trail is easy and accessible for all ages.

Pets are welcomed on the trail but must be on a leash at all times.

Many photographers love visiting Linville Falls because of the surrounding scenery.

12. Moore Cove Falls

Moore Cove Falls, North CarolinaSource: Allison Michael / shutterstock
Moore Cove Falls

Moore Cove Falls is one of the most unique waterfalls in the United States, and are situated near Brevard, North Carolina.

The free-falling waterfall is 50-feet tall and is located in the picturesque creek valley surrounded by ferns.

The hike is one mile and is located in Pisgah National Forest.

Moore Cove Falls is distinctive because of the cave behind the falls, the substantial cliffs, and the high drop that tumbles the water into the cave.

This waterfall is great for people who enjoy reclusiveness, as it is situated in a quiet, less touristy area.

13. Catawba Falls

Catawba Falls, North CarolinaSource: jadimages / shutterstock
Catawba Falls

Catawba Falls is over 100 feet high and one of the most scenic waterfalls out of all the Blue Ridge waterfalls in the western part of North Carolina.

Catawba Falls is located on the southern slope of Pisgah National Forest.

Not too long ago, the falls were not accessible to the public, but with a new parking area, signage and footbridges, it is now easily reachable.

You will notice the waterfall is divided into three different parts – the upper, the middle, and the lower section.

The water flows off the escarpment and into the Piedmont areas underneath the falls.

If you are in the area, you do not want to miss Catawba Falls.

14. Leatherwood Falls

The best time to visit Leatherwood Falls is in the fall season.

The hike itself is less than 0.2 miles round-trip.

You can get a glimpse of the falls from the parking area, but it’s better to see the falls up close.

Since the sandstone is predominant in Clay County, there are not many waterfalls in the area.

Leatherwood Falls – sometimes known as ‘Fire Creek Falls’ – are small but intimate, and you can take photos from close to the cascade.

15. Silver Run Falls

Silver Run Falls, North CarolinaSource: MarkVanDykePhotography / shutterstock
Silver Run Falls

Silver Run Falls are located four miles from Cashiers and are great for the whole family to enjoy.

Many people visit Silver Run Falls in the summer to go swimming; kids enjoy cooling off beneath the falls during the hot months.

To reach the falls, you will hike in 0.2 miles or 0.4 miles round trip.

It is very easy and accessible for all ages.

You can bring your dog with you if they are leashed at all times.

15 Amazing Waterfalls in North Carolina:

  • Rainbow Falls
  • Whitewater Falls
  • Soco Falls
  • Crabtree Falls
  • Dry Falls
  • Looking Glass Falls
  • Bust Your Butt Falls
  • Skinny Dip Falls
  • DuPont State Recreational Forest
  • Mingo Falls
  • Linville Falls
  • Moore Cove Falls
  • Catawba Falls
  • Leatherwood Falls
  • Silver Run Falls