Highlands North Carolina Waterfalls to See
The Blue Ridge Western North Carolina are home to hundreds of gorgeous waterfalls. While access to some of these waterfalls takes extensive hiking, dozens of these waterfalls are extremely accessible – some can even be seen from the roadside of US Highway 64 (known as the Waterfall Byway). This makes a waterfall trip a must-do for any vacation in the North Carolina Mountains. Put the waterfalls on your list whether you’re seeking an adventurous family outing or a romantic photo op.
Below, we’ve listed 5 of our favorite Highlands North Carolina waterfalls. We’ve included those that take a bit of hiking and those that can be seen right from the road. However in most cases we find that the very best views of these majestic waterfalls are from their trails and observation areas. Before you visit any of North Carolina’s amazing natural waterfalls, please keep in mind some basic safety considerations. Don’t play in or wade into the water above a waterfall, where strong currents can sweep you over the falls without warning. Remember to obey all posted signs. Stay safe, stay back, and enjoy the views!
Glen Falls – Short Hike for 3 Amazing Highlands North Carolina Waterfalls
The trail to Glen Falls is extremely popular and its our most common recommendation as the trail to Glenn Falls takes hikers past three gorgeous waterfalls that drop 70- 60- and 15- feet. Its a relatively accessible trail that is two-miles out-and-back. The trail leads downhill via several switchbacks and manages to connect observation areas for each of the three waterfalls. It is a short trail but it can be steep and somewhat difficult to hike back up the trail.
Getting to Glen Falls:
To reach the area, take NC Hwy 106 just south of Highlands for less than 2 miles until you see the Glen Falls Scenic Area sign on the left and take S.R.1619 immediately on the right. From there, it’s a mile to the trail that leads from a parking area. Try to use a GPS for this trip as cell reception may be spotty.
Dry Falls – Venture Behind this North Carolina Cascade
Dry Falls invites your to hold your breath and creep behind its falling waters. Dry Falls cascades down a rock cliff for 75 feet. It’s one of the most popular and accessible of our Highlands North Carolina waterfalls in the area. When you arrive, take in the falls from the accessible observation area or walk the short paved trail that takes you up to and behind the 75-foot cascade. Be sure to continue along the path behind the waterfall all the way to the other side for a scenic overlook.
Getting to Dry Falls
The parking area for Dry Falls is located 3.5 miles from Highlands and 15.7 miles from Franklin along US Highway 64. The parking area is administered by the National Forest Service. There is a $3/vehicle parking fee. There are about a dozen parking spaces for personal vehicles but no spaces for trailers or RVs.
Cullasaja Falls – Largest in the Highlands Area
This 250-foot cascade can be found along US Highway 64. It is one of the largest waterfalls in the area. That being said, there is no marked trail to Cullasaja Falls so we make this recommendation for experienced hikers only as the scramble to the waterfall can be steep and dangerous. Instead we suggest enjoying the view of Cullasaja from the parking area, especially in winter once the trees lose their leaves and the waterfall becomes more visible. Alternately, if you are a fan of drone photography you could try using your drone to capture the falls while keeping two feet on level ground.
Getting to Cullasaja Falls
While Cullasaja Falls is less than 9 miles west of Highlands it can be easy to miss. The pull out is very small and unless you’re looking for it, you may drive past it. We suggest that you pull into this area from the eastbound lane, and park completely off the road.
Brevard Sliding Rock – The MOST Fun Waterfall
Brevard Sliding Rock translates to hours of summer fun. This sixty-foot, rock waterslide is a naturally occurring thrill ride. Eleven-thousand gallons of water runs over Sliding Rock every minute, making your trip fast, heart-racing and unforgettable. Summer bring large crowds of all ages looking to take the plunge, but watching others take the ride is very nearly as much fun as experiencing it yourself.
This is a popular spot in the summer due to it’s reputation and convenient location. Bring a towel, river shoes, swimming trunks and a camera to enjoy this wonderful outdoor area. If you’d like fish, then bring your pole and fish for some Wild Brown Trout that call this river home. We recommend this spot for families with small children since its so gosh darn fun. You’ll also be happy to know that a lifeguard is on duty from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Admission is $4 per person. Before entering the recreation area, you will approach an entrance gate to pay. Cash and credit cards are accepted. There are also changing rooms and restrooms available when a lifeguard is on duty. If you visit during the “off” times, they will be closed, so plan accordingly.
Getting to Sliding Rock
Sliding Rock is located in Pisgah National Forest just north of Brevard, 7.6 miles from the junction of US Highways 64 and 276.
Bridal Veil Falls – A Highlands-Area Classic
This waterfall became popular when people started posting photos of driving behind the towering curtain of water on a paved road. Unfortunetly, that road has been closed for some time now, hwoever, we still think Bridal Veil falls is worth stoping for a look. Its easy to find as it’s located literally on the side of US Highway 64. The water pours over a rocky outcropping and into a gully that disappears beneath the highway. The best time to see this waterfall is late spring or after a few days of heavy rainfall.
Since there is no hiking required to see this waterfall, we suggest giving Bridal Veil falls a visit if you have young children or mobility challenges.
Getting to Bridal Vail Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is located 2.7 miles from Highlands along US Highway 64. There is parking for about 3-4 vehicles on either end of the road that used to pass behind the falls.