Best Waterfalls near Asheville – Our Top 10
Welcome to beautiful western North Carolina, home to over 250+ waterfalls and plenty of land to explore with it! Our waterfalls come from a vast underground aqueduct originating in Eastern Tennessee, plus the massive amount of yearly rain that we get (60+ inches!), classifying the area as a temperate rainforest. There are so many gorgeous falls to explore that our company, Asheville Hiking Tours, made a whole tour dedicated to exploring their beauty called the Waterfalls and Blue Ridge Parkway Tour! Here is a list of some of the waterfalls that our company can guide you to and others that we highly recommend checking out while here on your stay:
1. Looking Glass Falls
Hike Duration: Roadside
Distance from Asheville: 35 miles
No trip to Asheville is complete without visiting the famous Looking Glass Falls! Standing at 60ft tall, this gorgeous waterfall is a simple and accessible roadside stopover attraction. A set of stairs leads you down to the base, where you can feel the mist from the falls that waters the surrounding plants 24/7. On a warm summer day, you may even see some people hopping across the rocks or wading in the clear, cool water. This family-friendly waterfall can also accommodate a variety of mobility issues as there is not much of a hike to it. Looking Glass Falls is truly a must-see for everyone!
Note: The parking area can get very busy during the day, so come early for your best chances to avoid crowds! Also, rocks at the base are very slippery and can be dangerous so go at your own risk.
2. Mouse Creek Falls
Hike Duration: 4.2 miles roundtrip
Distance from Asheville: 55 miles
With a name like Mouse Creek, these falls still boast a 45ft drop! It is one of the furthest from Asheville on the list, but is definitely worth a visit if your trip itinerary includes the Great Smoky Mountains. Arrive at the Big Creek parking lot, where you will be greeted with picnic tables to have a nice lunch before you begin your hike! Continue on the Big Creek Trail, a moderate but gradual 2.1 mile climb to the falls. The overlook to Mouse Creek Falls is marked past a few hitching posts, with a bench to rest and gaze at the alluring waterfall. On your return back, be sure to stop off at Midnight Hole on the same trail, a popular, clear water swimming area adjacent to an additional 6ft falls!
3. Sliding Rock Falls
Hike Duration: Nearly roadside
Difficulty: Easy paved path
Distance from Asheville: 38 miles
Another waterfall on our list that does not require a hike to reap the benefits of is the acclaimed Sliding Rock Falls in Pisgah National Forest! Sliding Rock Falls is a remarkable 60 ft all-natural waterslide that empties into a deep, chilling pool at the base. Arrive at the parking area early, as it is a popular attraction and spots can fill up fast. Be prepared to wait in line as well during warmer summer months as well, but there is no limit to the amount of times you can slide down all day! There are also observation areas for those that do not wish to slide down the waterfall and would prefer to witness its charm from above. The parking area is located close to an access point of the Blue Ridge Parkway if you wish to continue your journey up the mountain road to explore some of the best western North Carolina views!
Note: A $4 per person charge is required to enter the falls in order to pay the lifeguards that are on duty for guests’ safety! This charge is in effect Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend when the lifeguards are staffed, however, the falls are open year round and at your own risk during the off season.
4. Little Bradley Falls
Hike Duration: 2 miles
Distance from Asheville: 37 miles
A lesser known waterfall to visitors is right near the popular Lake Lure named Little Bradley Falls! Part of an area called Green River Game Lands, this “little” waterfall is 50+ ft tall and takes only a mile to get to. The trailhead starts at a pull off right near Cove Creek. This short out-and-back hike is still moderately difficult, as a lot of it is eroded due to constant rainfall and contains many creek crossings and rock climbs. There are a few little campsites along this trail if you chose to spend your night listening to the sound of babbling water along Cove Creek. The trail ends at the base of the multi-tiered Little Bradley Falls, where you may wade in the chilly water of its swimming pool or stop along its many boulders to gaze at its beauty. Although there are a couple of access points to get to the top of the falls, please go at your own risk. Scrambling to the top can be dangerous and is not recommended! Little Bradley Falls is also located in an excellent area of North Carolina for tubing or kayaking if you get the hankering to go down the Green River while you are there!
Note: There is also a longer hike to Big Bradley Falls in the same parking area as Little Bradley Falls, however, it is temporarily closed for safety reasons until further notice.
5. Linville Falls
Hike Duration: 1.6 miles roundtrip
Distance from Asheville: 56 miles
Located off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway is the equally as beautiful 90 ft Linville Falls! Dubbed “ the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina” due to its accessibility and sheer beauty, Linville Falls is a multi-tiered waterfall that offers hiking trails, a visitor center, and a picnic area! Arriving at the Visitor Center, you have multiple different routes to hike to the waterfall, including an easier option (The Falls Trail), a moderate option (The Plunge Basin Trail), and a more strenuous option (The Gorge Trail). We recommend the 1.6 mile Falls Trail for the best combination of overlooks and foliage on your hike. At the falls, you can admire its striking appearance as the water tumbles down from the 12-mile deep, rocky gorge. However, swimming and climbing in or around the falls is dangerous and prohibited. There is also a developed campground nearby for tent or RV camping back by the Parkway if you are looking to spend the night overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains!
6. Schoolhouse Falls
Hike Duration: 2.5 miles
Distance from Asheville: 55 miles
While Schoolhouse Falls is the smallest one on our list, it contains plenty of character and allure to make up for it! This 20ft falls got its name from an old schoolhouse that used to be nearby the waterfall. Look for the wooden trail sign to start your hike on the Panthertown Valley Trail after you park in the gravel lot. You will follow a trail full of switchbacks, bridges, and gorgeous, dense rhododendron forests until you reach the waterfall. Enjoy a nice lunch break on the abundance of rocks or wade in the beautiful tea-colored swimming hole while you become surrounded by radiant-colored butterflies in the warmer months. You can even venture behind the waterfall and shower yourself in the brisk cascade. As the area is not large in size, you may also choose to continue exploring around Panthertown Valley in search for its abundance of other waterfalls and extensive views! There are also many campsites scattered around the valley to enjoy for overnight trips!
Note: We advise you to carry a map to Panthertown Valley as many of the trails can be unmarked and difficult to follow without.
7. Rainbow Falls
Hike Duration: 3.9 miles roundtrip
Distance from Asheville: 54 miles
Named after the rainbows that form from the waterfall’s powerful mist, Rainbow Falls is an enormous, vertical fall that is located in Gorges State Park, about 54 miles from Asheville. This moderate 3.9 mile hike on the Grassy Ridge Trail comes with a fair share of creek crossings as you walk along the Horsepasture River for most of your way. As an added bonus, this hike also takes you past two other impressive waterfalls, Turtleback and Driftwood Falls, that are 15 ft and 30 ft, respectively. Once you arrive, you may gaze at the falls from the observation deck or choose to get a closer look from some of the side trails, as this 150 ft waterfall has an impressive feature of being able to be viewed from almost all angles-front, side, bottom, and top! However, Rainbow Falls is another waterfall that does not allow climbing or cliff jumping, due to the high risk of serious injury.
8. Hickory Nut Falls
Hike Duration: 1.4 miles roundtrip
Distance from Asheville: 24 miles
Hickory Nut Falls is an easy to moderate 1.4 mile hike nestled in the wide-ranging Chimney Rock State Park! Towering at 404 ft, this waterfall is one of the tallest east of the Mississippi River and has even been featured in the film The Last of the Mohicans. Take the “Hickory Nut Falls Trail” to stroll along the serene, wooded area for the majority of the hike. This trail is perfect for newcomers to the Blue Ridge Mountains, as it provides informative boards throughout the hike of the local ecology and geology and is quintessential of the entire area’s beauty. Once you arrive at the base of the falls, although swimming is prohibited, there are plenty of benches and a viewing deck to take in the picturesque falls. Perfect for a fun family day trip, Chimney Rock State Park also offers a plethora of other activities as well such as guided hiking trails, a wildlife exhibit, and a climbing wall! Lake Lure is also located only 3.5 miles away, a popular stop for summer water activities.
Note: You may also access Hickory Nut Falls from the “Skyline Trail,” however it only offers a view from the top of the falls.
9. High Falls and Bridal Veil Falls
Hike Duration: 4.4 miles roundtrip
Distance from Asheville: 47 miles
Another DuPont State Forest destination is the unique 120 ft Bridal Veil Falls! There are a few different ways to access the falls, but we suggest hiking along the High Falls Trailhead so that you can also experience another 120 ft waterfall, High Falls! Both of these monumental waterfalls were featured in both films The Last of the Mohicans and The Hunger Games and with their powerful, picturesque views, it is easy to see why! From the trailhead, your travels will mostly stick to gravel roads, passing both the covered bridge that overlooks High Falls and one over the biggest lake in DuPont, Lake Julia. You will soon realize that you have reached your destination once the forest opens up and you are hit with the awestruck views of Bridal Veil Falls. Stop at the viewing deck or many outcroppings to watch as the waterfall continuously stretches and tumbles down a massive plane of granite. There is even a cascade at the top, where you can go behind a 10ft fall! However, be careful walking onto any part of the rockface, as many spots are incredibly slick from the constant water flow and can be very dangerous!
10. Wintergreen Falls
Hike Duration: 3 miles roundtrip
Distance from Asheville: 38 miles
Named after the evergreen groundcover surrounding the waterfall, Wintergreen Falls is a quick 20 minute hike in an unassuming location. Start your journey off at the Guion Farm parking area, an expansive area of DuPont State Forest that also provides many mountain biking and horseback riding trails. Here, you will venture left away from the farm on an unmarked, but easy to follow trail until you reach the falls. At 20 ft tall, this waterfall is one of the smallest, but has a lot of character! It is also not as popular as other attractions, so you may luck out and have this charming beauty all to yourselves. Stay and swim in Wintergreen’s winding pool, or return the way you came to enjoy some of the other recreational activities the area offers.