Are you looking for amazing waterfalls in North Carolina? Look no further!
Deciding which of the waterfalls to visit can be so hard. There are so many beautiful falls and so little time! To make it easier for you, we have made a list of the prettiest waterfalls in North Carolina for you to explore!
The waterfalls are beautiful and are a must visit when in North Carolina. There are waterfalls that fit the needs of every type of traveler!
There are waterfalls that you can swim beneath, waterfalls that are family friendly, some that require a little bit of hiking, and some that you can see from the road. In fact, some of the very best waterfalls in the state can be seen from the road side!
With such a variety, you will be able to find the falls that are just right for you. Which of these gorgeous North Carolina waterfalls will you explore?
20 Prettiest Waterfalls in North Carolina To Explore
Sliding Rock Falls
Sliding Rock Falls is one of the must visit waterfalls in North Carolina! Approximately forty minutes from Asheville, the falls are located in Pisgah National Forest along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. Thousands make the journey each year to come see the falls for themselves!
Sliding Rock Falls is more than just a pretty sight, you can slide down it! This waterfall is a 60 foot natural waterslide that dumps into an eight foot deep pool at the bottom. This makes it a perfect location to cool off during the North Carolina summer!
If you’ve ever dreamed of soaking in a swimming hole at the bottom of one of the beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina, but were deterred by the crowds, Paradise Falls is for you!
Located in Tuckasegee, North Carolina, this waterfall is a dream come true for those who don’t mind a little hiking! A short 0.5 mile out and back trail will lead you to the little slice of heaven known as Paradise Falls. Keep in mind that although the hike is short, it is strenuous and caution should be taken!
Paradise Falls has gorgeous rock outcroppings, a little grotto, and beautiful scenery. This waterfall will make you feel like you are living in a fairytale!
One of many waterfalls in North Carolina that are located in Pisgah National Forest, Rainbow Falls drops a whopping 150 feet and can be viewed from the top, bottom, and side!
When water levels are low, the rocks around the waterfall make a perfect place to picnic or just chill and enjoy the cool mist that fills the air. You can see how the waterfall got it’s name on sunny days when a beautiful rainbow appears in front of the falls!
Rainbow Falls is one of many North Carolina waterfall hikes you should consider when exploring the natural beauty that the state has to offer. It’s a strenuous 1.5 mile hike starting at the Grassy Ridge Access entrance off of Hwy 281S to get to the breath-taking Rainbow Falls.
If you don’t mind hiking, you can continue another .4 mile past the falls and the trail will lead you to a second waterfall called Turtleback Falls which forms a natural waterslide!
Crabtree Falls is one of the most breath taking waterfalls in North Carolina! Thanks to the cool mist coming from the waterfall, the surrounding area is full of thriving moss, ferns, and wildflowers galore. This makes for spectacular mystic vibes at the base of the waterfall!
There are two ways for you to reach Crabtree Falls. You can choose an 3-mile out and back trail that has a steady slope that you will need to ascend on your return from the waterfall. Your second option is to take the more strenuous 3.5 mile loop trail that climbs the rocky terrain up a steep ridge over the falls.
To decide which trail is right for you, consider using this map of the trails provided by the National Park Service.
Arguably one of the most photographed waterfalls in North Carolina, Lineville Falls is one of the main attractions along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This three-tiered waterfall is often called the Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians and is no doubt a traveler favorite!
There are five different viewpoints to Lineville Falls that can be reached via two different trails that leave from the visitors center. The Lineville Gorge Trail will take you to all five viewpoints, but keep in mind that it is a strenuous 4-mile hike. Your other option is the Erwins View Trail will take you to four overlooks on a moderate 1.6 mile round-trip hike.
Please remember that you shouldn’t swim at Lineville Falls because the currents are too strong. However, you can get your feet wet and enjoy the relaxing sounds of the water!
Of all the waterfalls in North Carolina, the ones that offer fantastic swimming holes are must visits during the summer months. Hooker Falls is a wide 12 foot waterfall that create the perfect place to swim at the bottom!
The walk to Hooker Falls is just a short 1/4-mile walk from the parking lot. This waterfall is accessible to those in wheel chairs and is the only waterfall in DuPont State Forest that has safe swimming conditions.
You could easily spend hours at Hooker Falls. Spend time swimming, bathing in the sun, and feel comfortable knowing there are restrooms and changing rooms nearby!
Located in the DuPont Forest, Triple Falls is just a short seven mile walk from the Hooker Falls parking lot. This is one of the best waterfalls in North Carolina because it offers you the rare chance to stand in the middle of a waterfall!
Round trip, the walk to Triple falls is only one mile and you can enjoy all three cascades from the trail! This waterfall is very popular and can draw quite the crowd. The best way to avoid the crowds is to visit early morning or mid-week.
If you really want to get the most out of your visit to Triple Falls, visit when the leaves are showing peak fall colors. The best chance of seeing amazing fall colors is in late October through early November!
Want to visit a waterfall that you can walk behind? You can at Dry Falls!
This waterfall can be found in the Nantahala National Forest. The water tumbles down 80 feet, 40 feet of which are a free fall! Keep in mind that how much rain the area has received will affect how aggressively the water will pour down the fall. You may want to wear water proof shoes and a rain coat if you don’t want to get wet!
Dry Falls is great for anyone who doesn’t want to hike long distances to see the natural beauty of waterfalls in North Carolina. A short paved path from the parking lot will put you right beside the waterfall!
Bridal Veil Falls
Only one mile from Dry Falls, in the Nantahala National Forest, is Bridal Veil Falls. Located just 2 mile from Highlands, this waterfall offers two unique experiences!
Not only can you walk behind Bridal Veil Falls, you can drive behind it too! For years, the only way through the forest was to drive behind the waterfall. This caused issues when it was frozen or when there had been a lot of rain. Today, Highway 64 goes around the waterfall, but you can still drive behind it for the experience!
Bridal Veil Falls is one of the waterfalls in North Carolina that you can see from the roadside. This makes it a great choice for those who aren’t big fans of hiking!
A 6 mile drive from Bridal Veil Falls, Cullasaja Falls is a gorgeous cliffside waterfall that can be seen from the roadside! It is located off of Highway 64 which is often referred to as the Mountain Waters Scenic Highway & Waterfall Byway.
Callasaja Falls is best viewed in the winter time when the leaves have fallen. The drive to the falls involves driving on a narrow and curvy stretch of the highway that takes you through the Cullasaja River Gorge. The drive is absolutely stunning!
As with several other waterfalls in North Carolina, visitors have attempted to make their own trail down to the falls. Keep in mind that the trail you can see from the parking area is very steep and dangerous and it is not an official trail. It’s safest to enjoy the waterfall from the roadside viewpoint!
Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls is one of the most popular and mystical waterfalls in North Carolina. It’s actually one of several waterfalls near Asheville that offers a viewpoint that is wheelchair accessible.
It makes an amazing stop on any North Carolina road trip! Although this waterfall is beautiful year around, it is an ideal summer destination. You can take a dip in water beneath the falls and sun bathe on the rocks near the edge of the water. In the summer months, the falls are surrounded by colorful wildflowers making it a dream location for photographers.
A short .6 mile hike will bring you to the beautiful Whitewater Falls near the South Carolina/North Carolina border. Of all the hiking trails in North Carolina with waterfalls, this one offers one of the most comfortable hiking experiences. The trail is ranked easy to moderate and is lined with benches for you to rest your legs!
Whitewater Falls is seriously stunning with its multiple cascades and beautiful scenery. This waterfall drops more than 800 feet and although it is often disputed, currently holds the claim of the highest waterfall east of the Rockies!
During the summer months, High Falls is quite a popular waterfall in North Carolina. People come to enjoy the cool mist coming from the falls and to picnic in the shelter near the falls. Although popular in the summer, High Falls is also breath taking when viewed in the fall when it is surrounded by the gorgeous fall colors!
Located 45 minutes from Asheville, this waterfall in DuPont State Forest is just a short 1.2 mile moderate hike away from the High Falls Visitors Center.
High Falls is super cool in that it gives you access to two other waterfalls in North Carolina! If you enjoy hiking, you can continue on the High Falls Loop trail and you will be able to access both the Triple Falls trail and Hooker Falls trail as well!
If you are looking for a summer swimming hole in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Midnight Hole is ideal! You can jump off the boulders into the cool water, enjoy the relaxing sound of the six foot waterfall, and enjoy lunch at the picnic tables around the waterfall.
You can get to Midnight Hole via the Big Creek Trail. It’s a fairly easy trail that you will hike 1.5 miles on before arriving at Midnight Hole on your left. The terrain is rocky in some places so sturdy walking shoes are a must!
Similar to many other waterfalls in North Carolina, Midnight Hole can get quite busy in the summer. To avoid the large crowds, visit on a weekday, or in the early morning!
Elk River Falls
Located in Pisagh National Forest, Elk River Falls is absolutely stunning! Water tumbles down a 50 foot rock cliff into a gorgeous pool of water below, making it one of the most picturesque waterfalls in North Carolina.
The water directly below the waterfall isn’t safe for swimming due to the currents. However, the surrounding areas offer many places where you can get your feet wet, wade, and swim!
Moving down stream from the waterfall, you can access a few additional cascades along the river. You can also take a short five minute walk up to the top of the falls for great views of the cascade from above!
Tanawha Trail Waterfall
If you are searching for North Carolina waterfall hikes that will blow your mind, Tanawha Trail is for you! The trail in its entirety is actually quite long. Taking the Rough Ride portion of the trail is a moderate 1.2 mile round trip hike will take you to a beautiful wooden bridge and waterfall!
Once you arrive at the Wilson Creek Bridge you can experience several gorgeous cascades pouring down Wilson Creek. The waterfall is surrounded by the beautiful scenery that you come to expect when exploring the waterfalls in North Carolina!
This is one of the very best waterfall hikes off of the Blue Ride Parkway! You will start your journey to the falls off of the parkway at mile marker 302.8. This is a very popular trail off of the parkway so you will most likely be sharing the trail with others, even on weekdays and early mornings. Keep in mind that the falls are best viewed after a good rainfall!
Ready for a double waterfall? Of course you are! Soco Falls is a stunning double waterfall near Maggie Valley and Cherokee, North Carolina. The double waterfall is on the edge of the Cherokee Indian Reservation and can be viewed via a short walk from US Highway 19.
If you’re looking for North Carolina waterfall hikes that take minimal effort, this one is perfect for you! Soco Falls is one of the waterfalls in North Carolina that is so close to the road that you can hear the roaring of the water before you even leave your vehicle. You will see a break in the guardrail, this starts the short .2 mile loop trail down to Soco Falls!
Hickory Nut Falls
Best viewed after a good rainfall, Hickory Nut Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in North Carolina! The falls are located in Chimney Rock State Park, you will need to pay for entrance into the state park to view the waterfall.
There is a lovely viewing area beneath the falls that allows you to get close and enjoy the cool mist coming from the waterfall! The trail to the falls is a 1.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail. This trail is great for families or for anyone looking for a non-strenuous hike to a beautiful waterfall!
Pearson’s Falls is a 90 foot waterfall located between Saluda and Tyron, North Carolina. The hike to the falls is a short, moderately trafficked hike that follows along the brook through the lush North Carolina forest. Unlike most waterfalls in North Carolina, this one is privately owned!
The waterfall is owned and preserved by the Tyron Garden Club and is home to many species of wild flowers. There are several benches and picnic tables along the way to the falls for you to enjoy lunch with a view of the water pouring down the natural rock staircase of Pearson’s Falls!
Spruce Flats Falls
Some of the coolest waterfalls in North Carolina are located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Spruce Flats Falls is one of them!
Located in Townsend, Tennessee, this waterfall is surrounded by forest covered rocky outcroppings. Spruce Flats Falls has multiple tiers and is seriously gorgeous! Perfect in the summer months, you can take a dip or wade in the water beneath falls. You can even sit or stand on the rocks under the falls if you don’t mind getting soaked!
North Carolina is full of hundreds of gorgeous waterfalls! You will find your self exploring waterfalls that are surrounded by mountains, wild flowers, and beautiful lush forests. Exploring one of these waterfalls is a must on any North Carolina bucket list!
The waterfalls in North Carolina are calling your name! Which will you visit first?