Asheville Waterfalls and More Great Hikes in Western North Carolina
Boomers searching for places to retire with spectacular scenery can find this and more in the Western North Carolina mountains. The region is filled with thousands of blooming spring and summer wildflowers, roaming indigenous wildlife species, preserved natural forests, tons of outdoor activities and some of the most beautiful cascading waterfalls that can be found in the South. Did you know there are dozens of gated communities near Asheville NC where folks can own a home with waterfalls within their community?
There is something magical about this mountain oasis this time of year that excites the soul and rejuvenates the youthful spirit within. Experiencing the majestic thrashes of fresh mountain water free-flowing over the sculpted natural rock formations that have been created over hundreds of years is captivating and one of the most exhilarating outdoor adventures which attracts literally thousands of visitors every year to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway provides easy access to exploring the many paved natural hiking trails that give access to these powerful yet serene displays as the melting snow and spring showers creates a glorious collection of Asheville waterfalls with rainbows reflecting the sunshine while mountain ranges adorn the skyline. The area is known as the “Land of Waterfalls” with over 250 waterfalls noted in the area making this one of the best spots to enjoy these natural wonders.
Waterfall exploration is exciting and creates a great opportunity to see some magnificent landscaping and get some awesome exercise while seeking out these wondrous photo-worthy cascades of sparkling water as they descend into the crystal-clear ponds and lakes that are found throughout the area providing some exceptional outdoor fun during the warmer summer months not far from the gated communities near Asheville NC. Baby Boomers, college students, and enriched life seekers are quickly discovering that this is not only a great place to visit, but the best place to live in North Carolina.
There are so many waterfalls to discover and so much to do in the area, we have narrowed it down to help adventurers find these hidden gems in the lush forestry and mountainous terrain that abounds in Western North Carolina. While hiking is the primary mode of transportation to capture some of these amazing waterfalls, there are additional outdoor activities that will enhance the journey. Active folks can also enjoy rafting, paddling, zip lines, boating, fishing, camping, water-sliding and swimming in natural springs that are found everywhere in this pristine outdoor wonderland. This a great trip to involve the entire family and see some of the best sights this country has to offer.
Here’s several Asheville waterfalls and more that can be found in the mountains of North Carolina:
- High Falls, DuPont State Forest is a massive 150-foot waterfall that is located in the 10,000-acre nature preserve of the DuPont State Forest which is an easy 1.2-mile roundtrip hike from the parking area. Considered a hotspot and quite popular, expect crowds during the weekends. There are more falls nearby. Bring a camera for this impressive photo op.
- Bridal Veil Falls, DuPont State Forest is another waterfall in the forest with 120 feet of cascading splendor accessible by hiking or biking along the numerous trails that meander throughout the region. The 4.4-mile hike is considered moderate but well worth the time to see this amazing display of nature.
- Triple Falls, DuPont State Forest can be found within a half mile from High Falls and is quite impressive with three tiers of flowing water offering spectacular views from the middle of this unique waterfall. What a fabulous place for hiking with waterfalls!
- Linville Falls located at milepost 316 along the Blue Ridge Parkway is probably one of the most photographed-waterfalls along the drive. After a 1.6-mile moderate hike this stunning display is visible from 4 overlooks. Travel another 1.5 miles where you will find Dugger Creek Falls. Well worth the time for this memory making excursion.
- Crabtree Falls is an impressive 70-foot waterfall found near Linville Falls at milepost 339. The fall can be accessed from a moderate 3-mile round-trip hike along a wooded trail that loops around the falls. This view is absolutely stunning, and a must see.
- Rainbow Falls can be found in the Pisgah National Forest and can be accessed via a 3-mile moderate round trip hiking trail from Gorges State Park. This towering 150-foot waterfall is quite fascinating and worth the trek to the top. Turtleback Falls provides the ideal spot to take a dip on a hot summer day.
- Looking Glass Falls is a road side waterfall found in the Pisgah National Forest just 10 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. This 60-foot rush of water can be seen from the parking area and provides captivating views of the region.
- Moore Cove Falls is another 50-foot waterfall located near Looking Glass and provides a magnificent easy and scenic hike only 1.5 miles roundtrip.
- Elk River Falls can be found in Pisgah National Forest and is only a short walk to be seen. Formerly known as Big Falls, this 50-foot waterfall thrashes over a rock cliff cascading into an oval pool below which is the ideal spot to swim and sunbathe near Beech Mountain and Banner Elk.
- Walker Falls can be seen along the roadside while visiting the 70-foot Douglas Falls in Pisgah National Forest north of Asheville. This 40-foot fall is a bonus driving in the scenic lush woodlands that complement the excursion. Douglas Falls is a short 1-mile round trip hike where adventurers can walk behind this majestic rush of water.
- Catawba Falls also located in the Pisgah National Forest is only 3 miles from I-40 in Old Fort. This 100-foot waterfall can be viewed by hiking along the river for an easy 3-mile hike while experienced hikers can capture awesome views from the Upper Catawba Falls vantage point.
- Dry Falls is in the Nantahala National Forest along US Highway 64 near Highlands. This impressive 75-foot waterfall is road side and hikers can walk behind the falls without getting wet making it a fun and exhilarating experience.
- Schoolhouse Falls can be found in the Nantahala National Forest accessible by a moderate 2.5-mile hike round trip found in Panthertown Valley which has multiple waterfalls including Greenland Creek Falls, Wilderness Falls and Frolictown Falls. The pool at the base of Schoolhouse Falls is the ideal spot to take a dip while enjoying the scenery. This is also a popular camping area and provides the perfect escape from reality.
- Dill Falls and Upper Dill Falls features two stunning waterfalls found deep within the Nantahala National Forest. Easily accessed from the end of a forest service road only 4.6 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. There are 2 different trails that lead to the 50-foot Dill Falls on Tanasee Creek where hikers can explore both the Upper and Lower Dill Falls.
- Glen Falls is embedded in the Highlands area within the Nantahala National Forest with a moderate 2-mile roundtrip hike. This triple waterfall has 4 scenic stops and is accessed via a wooded downhill trail from the parking area. The scenery is quite impressive with several spots to relax and imbibe the serenity of this prime location before the uphill journey back to reality.
- Secret Falls is also found in the Nantahala National Forest near Highlands. This 50-foot waterfall spills into a pristine pool of refreshing clear water perfect for chilling out on a hot summer day. Easily accessed by a short hike from the parking area.
- French Broad Falls, Mill Shoals & Cathedral Falls these 3 waterfalls can be accessed from NC Highway 215 approximately 7.5 miles north of Highway 64 near Brevard/Rosman. Twin waterfalls provide an exceptional view and nearby Cathedral Falls is accented by towering cliffs complimenting the excursion.
- Eastatoe Falls is found on private property with a 60-foot cascading water rush near Brevard, 3.4 miles south of US Highway 64 on US 178. The property owner allows visitors with no charge but respect privacy when visiting no early or late tours are recommended when exploring this hidden treasure.
- Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls and Juney Whank Falls is a “3-for-1” venture found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a 2-mile hike through the Deep Creek area. Tubing in Deep Creek is a summer adventure enjoyed by many and provides a great day escape for visitors and residents.
- Graveyard Fields Waterfalls can be found a short distance from the Blue Ridge Parkway and features two waterfalls. Second Falls is only 1/3-mile walk from the Parkway while Upper Falls is reachable on a four-mile trail that loops throughout the lush meadows with awesome views of the mountainous terrain and spectacular wildlife species that roam freely.
- Skinny Dip Falls can be accessed at milepost 417 (Looking Glass Rock overlook) along the Blue Ridge Parkway and is a short ½ mile hike to some picturesque waterfalls, a jumping spot and popular swimming holes to enjoy taking a dip during the summer in the pools filled with refreshing cool mountain waters.
- Bust Your Butt Falls is another popular swimming hole that features a natural rock slide on the Cullasaja River along US Highway 64 near Highlands. Also known as “Quarry Falls”, this favorite spot is ideal for a cool and refreshing afternoon sunning on the boulders while chilling in the pools that are found here.
- Hickory Nut Falls found about an hour outside Asheville at Chimney Rock Park is the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi at 404-feet tall. The wooded trail to the base of this majestic landmark is an easy ¾ mile hike. The view from the platform on the bottom was made famous when it was featured in the blockbuster movie, “The Last of the Mohicans” in 1992. Views from the 315-foot Chimney Rock offers panoramic 75-mile views of this spectacular mountainous region overlooking Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge. This site draws thousands of world-wide travelers annually. The park does charge a fee for entry. There is an eatery “The Old Rock Café” in the park and picnic tables are available for bringing your own food. Rock climbing lessons are available as well as guided hikes. Pets are welcome. This retirement destination is a must for those seeking hiking with waterfalls in North Carolina.
Active adults realize that one of the best ways to enjoy the splendors of waterfalls is hiking throughout the trails that can be found everywhere in Western North Carolina. The area is connected to nature through sophisticated greenways making this a popular spot to retire and enjoy some of the finest naturally preserved landscaping that embraces the region. With an abundance of parks, forests and imbedded mountain trails, hiking is the way of life.
Hiking is also great exercise that incorporates every muscle in the body and burns a lot of calories while offering the chance to bond with the great outdoors. The average 2-mile hike at 2 mph burns about 183 calories for a 160 lb. person, while a speed of 3.5 mph elevates the caloric expenditure to 277 calories per hour. The hike can be more challenging with increased intensity, speed, bodyweight and type of terrain. A rugged terrain for a 2-mile hike for a male weighing 190 lbs. will burn around 646 calories per hour while uphill climbing increases the burn to a whopping 776 calories. It not just about the exercise, it’s the adventure of exploring beautiful flora, exotic wildlife species, lush topography, bubbling waterfalls and breathing in fresh mountain air that makes this not just exercise, but the way of life in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
For visitors exploring gated communities near Asheville NC, one easy way to see some of the amazing waterfalls that exist in the region is through the “Waterfalls ‘n Wine” tour which offers guided exploration of 5 breathtaking waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest by the Pisgah Field School staff. For $65 local experts will pick you up in a 15-passenger van and educate you on the rich history of the Appalachian Mountains while taking you to the waterfalls. Educated guides will take out the guess work and even point out the indigenous flora that is found along the way. This tour includes a 1.5-mile hike and is offered Thursdays and Fridays from 11am to 3pm, May through December. The tour ends with a wine tasting at Broad Street Wines in Brevard, thus the name “Waterfalls ‘n Wine”. Preregistration is required with a capacity of 10 and a minimum of 4. Visitors can sit back, relax and enjoy this excursion without worrying about getting there which is a great resource for those seeking a carefree getaway to explore the majestic Asheville waterfalls found in North Carolina. For more information about the tour, call 828-884-3443.
In addition to the awesome outdoor adventures found in the Western North Carolina mountains, the chic city of Asheville nearby offers trendy restaurants, unique shopping venues, year-round festivals, art galleries and endless sophisticated fun. Blend the best of both worlds and you will discover that this is the place to shop for the perfect retirement destination in the “Land of the Sky.”
If you're exploring Western North Carolina for the first, ask for our complimentary Asheville relocation information to help you learn more about the area.