I really got my hiking legs while living in North Carolina, when I realized that where there are mountains, waterfalls also generally exist. There are a ton of waterfalls either right at the road, or within a handful of steps from the road that are easy for anyone of any ability to check out. I apologize for the quality of some of these photos. The images go back as far as 2004, when I was working with a 2 megapixel digital camera.
Here are some of my favorites.
Bridal Veil Falls (Macon County, NC)
Bridal Veil falls is in Macon County, NC, it’s 45 ft tall and is located along US HWY 64 a little west of Highlands. There’s a pull off, making it very easy to get photos of this waterfall. The falls used to fall over the side of the road, onto the rocks below (seen in the right hand image). In December of 2003 a large boulder had fallen from above, you can just see the right side of it in the left hand image. I’ve heard that this boulder has since been cleared away.
Bubbling Springs Branch Cascades (Haywood County, NC)
Bubbling Springs Branch Cascades is 30 ft tall and can be found along Hwy 215, 2.2 miles north of where it intersects with the Blue Ridge Parkway. The above shot is from the road where there’s a pull off where you can park. I had a lot of fun hiking down to the base of this one, as there were a lot of boulders, and it was snowy at the time. This was also one of my times I was thankful for waterproof boots, as my foot slipped off a rock at one point and fell into the creek. I got the below picture on that trip.
Cullasaja Falls (Macon County, NC)
Cullasaja Falls is a beautiful waterfall, and is somewhere between 200 and 250 feet, depending on the source of your information. It’s situated along a very dangerous stretch of Hwy 64, and there’s only room for 2, possibly 3 cars at the tiny pull off here. There’s a path down to the base of the falls, but it was icy the morning I was here and I’m not exactly part billy goat.
Dry Falls (Macon County, NC)
Dry Falls is between 70 and 80 ft tall, and is about 5.5 away from Cullasaja Falls. There’s a brown and white forest sign along the road that directs you to the falls. I’ve only been here once, and it was at the same time that I visited Cullasaja and Bridal Veil Falls. It was very icy getting down the stairs to the falls, and while this is usually a falls you can walk behind, the fence was closed.
Looking Glass Falls (Transylvania County, NC)
Looking Glass Falls can be found along US 276 just inside the Pisgah National Forest in Brevard, NC. This one would be hard to miss, since it’s got its own pull off and is generally packed with cars. I’ve been to this falls more times than I can count on one hand. It’s about 60 feet tall and you’re allowed to swim in the pool at the bottom.
Slick Rock Falls (Transylvania County, NC)
Slick Rock Falls is about 30 feet high, and is just a stones throw from the parking area, which can be found by following Hwy 276 into the Pisgah National Forest, from Brevard, NC, turning left on FR475 and then right gravel road FR475B. The parking area/pull off is just over a mile down the road on the right hand side. This one is best visited after a heavy rain, or the flow is a little light.
Whitewater Falls (Jackson County, NC)
Whitewater Falls is one of the more impressive waterfalls I’ve seen, and at 411 ft, also one of the tallest. If you’re out looking at the other waterfalls I’ve mentioned along Hwy 64, keep heading west until you hit Hwy 281 near Sapphire, NC and take that 9 miles to the massive parking area. There’s a short, 1/4 mile walk (paved) to the top of the lookout, and about 150-160 more stairs leading down to varied views of the falls.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of my favorite roadside waterfalls from my time in North Carolina. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out Transylvania County, NC, which boasts over 250 waterfalls. Also, if you’re looking for an excellent book on NC waterfalls, look for NC Waterfalls by Kevin Adams. I was a novice hiker when I bought my first copy, and used it as a kind of field guide for all of my hikes.