Here’s an exception to the rule about not playing on the waterfalls: Sliding Rock. Mother Nature fashioned a playground out of these cascades, and a hot summer day will see dozens of visitors sliding down the gentle cascades and splashing into the pool below. Not exactly a place to go for solitude – unless it’s a weekday in the off-season – but a fantastic choice for family fun.
Looking Glass Falls
The most beautiful waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest happen to be just off the road, so there’s no work required to enjoy nature’s splendor. Stone stairs also lead to the base of the falls. Parking can be tough on a busy day, but these are a must stop for a motor-tour along U.S. Highway 276.
Cedar Rock Falls
Looking for some nice waterfalls and a short, easy hike? The falls on Cedar Rock Creek fit the bill. The 20-foot falls can be reached in less than one-half mile via the Cat Gap and Butter Gap trails, which begin at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.
The Yellowstone Prong travels through Graveyard Fields, the popular hiking area off the Blue Ridge Parkway. This mountain stream has two falls, the upper and middle. A well-developed trail – paved in places, with wooden stairs elsewhere – provides easy access to the 40-foot middle falls in less than one-half a mile round-trip. The 50-foot upper falls require a lengthier, three-mile round-trip hike. Both are very scenic cascades.
In terms of flow, Linville Falls are the most powerful of the waterfalls in the Blue Ridge area. The roaring waters shoot off a cliff into a broad, pond-like pool with multiple vantage points from several different trails. A detailed kiosk has information about the different trails, their mileage, and difficulty.
The headwaters of the Catawba River drop down nearly a dozen waterfalls along a popular hiking trail near Old Fort. Two of those waterfalls are named Catawba Falls and Upper Catawba Falls. Both are fantastic in their own right, but you’ll have fun exploring all the other little falls along the 1.6-mile trail.
Dupont State Forest has a treasure chest of waterfalls, some of which require a hike, others of which demand just a small walk. The trails are well marked and kiosks at each of the trailheads provide adequate information. The main attractions are Bridal Veil Falls, Grassy Creek Falls, High Falls, Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and Wintergreen Falls. Each offers something different. Bridal Veil Falls, for example, has an overhang that allows people to walk behind the “veil.” High Falls are simply high and impressive.
The 411-foot Whitewater Falls are the tallest in the Blue Ridge. They are located south of Cashiers in the Nantahala National Forest, in the Jocassee Gorges area – a land replete with waterfalls. It is difficult to get close to the falls because they drop into a steep, massive gorge, but the overlook offers a fantastic view with plenty of photo opportunities.