21 Waterfalls for Adventure in the Pisgah National Forest (2024)

Western North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest is well-known for its magnificent waterfalls. The Pisgah National Forest is home to more than 21 waterfalls, but these are the top 21 that are worth seeing:

Pisgah National Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of the great outdoors. There are waterfalls, hiking trails, and lush, pristine beauty wherever you look! We can assist you make the most out of your vacation if you’re thinking about visiting all of the magnificent Pisgah National Forest Waterfalls without being lost or (dramatically) eaten by wolves!

We drove from Raleigh to Asheville to spend some time seeing this area, so in addition to talking about what TO DO at several of the falls (Cedar Rock Falls, I’m looking at you), we also discussed some huge blunders we made along the route.

Like we did, we don’t want you to be forced to go on an impromptu three-hour walk uphill without any sustenance. That’s not something I would advise doing. Get your hiking boots ready and come explore the Pisgah National Forest’s waterfalls with us.

Just make sure they are sufficiently deep initially. We hope there are no accidents.

21 Waterfalls for Adventure in the Pisgah National Forest (2024)

Also Read: Stunning Locations To See In Mallorca Via Car

21 Pisgah National Forest Waterfalls

 

When water flows over a vertical drop or a sequence of drops in a stream or river, a waterfall is created. This frequently occurs when a river or stream encounters a steep slope or a change in the underlying rock type. Waterfalls in a waterfall due to the water’s gravitational pull. Waterfalls can range in size from little cascades to enormous falls, and they can be found in many different habitats worldwide.

The height, width, amount of water, and general attractiveness of a waterfall can all differ. Many people appreciate waterfalls for their inherent beauty, and some have developed into popular tourist attractions. In addition to their unique geological features, waterfalls have a soothing effect that draws people in.

Among the most well-known waterfalls in the world are Iguazu Falls in South America, Victoria Falls in Africa, Angel Falls in Venezuela, and Niagara Falls in North America. There are waterfalls in national parks and other natural areas, offering opportunities for outdoor recreation and taking in the splendor of the natural world.

Western North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest is well-known for its magnificent waterfalls. The Pisgah National Forest is home to more than 21 waterfalls, but these are the top 21 that are worth seeing:

  1. Looking Glass Falls is a popular and easily accessible waterfall along the highway.
  2. Sliding Rock: While it’s more of a natural water slide than a waterfall, it’s nonetheless a wonderful and unique experience.
  3. Moore Cove Falls is a stunning 50-foot waterfall with a walkway extending behind it.
  4. Skinny Dip Falls: A sequence of waterfalls and pools that may be reached by a short walk.
  5. Slick Rock Falls is a wayside waterfall with a small walk down to its base.
  6. Courthouse Falls: A 45-foot waterfall in the Courthouse Creek area.
  7. Toms Creek Falls is a 60-foot waterfall accessible via a short walk.
  8. Eastatoe Falls: Located in a secluded region, this waterfall provides a tranquil environment.
  9. Harper Creek Falls is a pair of waterfalls that require a somewhat tough climb to reach.
  10. Cathey’s Creek Falls: A succession of waterfalls on Cathey’s Creek.
  11. Cathedral Falls: A beautiful waterfall in the Pink Beds region.
  12. Schoolhouse Falls, located in Panthertown Valley, is part of a network of paths.
  13. Shunkawauken Falls is a lesser-known waterfall in the Pisgah National Forest.
  14. Glen Cannon Falls: A collection of waterfalls in the Glen Cannon neighborhood.
  15. Daniel Ridge Falls is accessible via the Daniel Ridge Loop Trail.
  16. High Falls is a 150-foot waterfall in the Dupont State Forest, which is near Pisgah National Forest.
  17. Hooker Falls: Another stunning waterfall in the Dupont State Forest.
  18. Rainbow Falls is a tremendous waterfall with a trail ascending to the top for a breathtaking view.
  19. Rockhouse Falls is a waterfall located along the hiking trails of Chimney Rock State Park.
  20. Upper Falls on Log Hollow Branch: This waterfall is rarely frequented but well worth the effort.
  21. Bridal Veil Falls: This waterfall, located near Highlands, is unique in that you can drive behind it.

 

Where Is Pisgah National Forest?

So where’s this little oasis in the woods? Since who uses a compass these days, set yours to Google Maps GPS and go to North Carolina’s western region!

Pisgah Forest, North Carolina is mostly contained within the state of North Carolina; it is mostly found in the southern Appalachian highlands, with some portions extending into the Great Balsam Mountains and the Blue Ridge.

The forest is a great addition to a vacation to the Biltmore Estate since it is conveniently accessible from Brevard, Barnardsville, Linville, and Asheville. Given the length of the trip, it is not a good idea to go from Charlotte to Asheville in a single day. Still, it’s a terrific weekend trip from Charlotte.

Whenever you need to rent a car to explore the National Forest, we usually suggest Discover Cars!

Waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest

1. Harper Creek Falls in the South

The Grandfather Ranger District

Hike Distance: 2.8 miles.

Parking Situation: Forest Road 58 has a tiny parking lot.

Hiking difficulty: Moderate.

Reachable from the FR58 trailhead, which is also referred to as Kistler Memorial Highway or Old NC 105.

This is one of the tallest waterfalls in the Grandfather Ranger District. The two-tiered, about 150-foot-tall waterfalls are spectacular.

Be Aware Before You Go: The Harper Creek Trail’s Raider Camp Trail may allow you to view the falls from both the top and bottom. Try both, please!

2. Upper Creek Falls

Ranger District is a district in the U.S.

Hike Distance: 1.6 miles.

Parking: There is a designated parking area between Pineola and Jonas Ridge.

Difficulty of Hike:

Location: The trailhead is along NC Highway 181.

These stunning 50-foot-tall Pisgah waterfalls have a fantastic swimming area along with a rope swing. You may walk around the circle, swim, or go to the top of the falls!

Before you go: Many people have perished at the top of the waterfall due to its extreme slickness. So proceed with caution!

3. Elk River Falls

The Appalachian Ranger District

Hiking distance: less than a mile.

Parking situation: There is minimal parking available.

Hiking difficulty: easy.

Location: near Elk Park, with an access point in the woods just outside town on Elk River Road.

This 50-foot plunge cascade into a swimming pool is a well-liked summertime destination. There are several of spots to relax, tan, or enjoy a picnic throughout this short walk.

Be Aware Before You Go: This place sees close to one death every year. The water above the waterfall is dangerous because of the strong, swift currents. Avoid going in. Avoid attempting to plunge off the granite bluff or swim UNDER the falls. Use your brains!

There may be evidence to support the old name “Big Falls,” which applied to these falls.

4. Douglas Falls

The Appalachian Ranger District

Round-trip walk distance: 6.6 km.

Parking is accessible at the Craggy Gardens Visitor Centre, located at mile 364.6 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hiking difficulty ranges from moderate to difficult.

The trailhead may be found along Forest Road 74; on your map, this may appear as Douglas Falls Road.

Tucked away in the Big Ivy region, which receives much fewer visitors than other regions, are these 70-foot waterfalls. You are allowed to descend beneath the waterfall that cascades over a precipice! This is a nice place to sit because the flow is usually gentle.

Be Aware Before You Go: Only seasoned hikers should attempt this lengthy and challenging route. It is advisable to use caution when walking beneath the falls due to their high level of slipping.

5. Roaring Fork Canyon

The Grandfather Ranger District

Hiking distance: less than one mile.

Parking is provided on the left side of the Busick Work Center’s gated entrance.

Hiking difficulty: easy.

It’s on South Toe River Road.

These magnificent falls have a 100-foot cascade and are 50 feet tall. There’s a lovely pool at the bottom that’s ideal for a picnic. The journey is easy and brief, more like a fast walk to your mailbox than a strenuous hike.

Be Aware Before You Go: A heavy downpour will make the waterfall’s flow feeble and unappealing.

6. Cedar Rock Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hike Length: less than 1.8 km

Parking is available at the Pisgah Centre for Wildlife Education.

Hiking difficulty: easy.

Location: Just off FS 475, often known as Davidson River Road.

These 20-foot-tall, wildflower-covered waterfalls are little but quite beautiful. You can complete the Cat Gap Loop if you choose to journey on, but please read our note below.

Because we were #directionallychallenged, we entered on the left and had to walk the whole Cat Gap Loop, which took us three hours instead of the thirty minutes we had anticipated. We found the circle to be quite difficult because it slopes uphill, and we suffered from aching legs for several days later.

I thought the trek would be short, so I had planned to eat breakfast after. However, I hadn’t eaten anything yet. I was wrong.

Finding the waterfall is challenging. Once you cross a footbridge across Cedar Rock Creek, hike for ten to fifteen more minutes. Once the main route splits into a “V,” locate a side path to the left and follow it.

Cedar Rock Falls is about a mile beyond Grogan Creek Falls (seen below).

7. Grogan Creek Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hike Distance: 3.7 miles.

Parking is available at the Pisgah Centre for Wildlife Education.

Hiking difficulty ranges from moderate to difficult.

Location: Off FS 475.

This 20-foot-tall waterfall in the forest is rather lovely despite its small size. The river drops sharply over knee-high ledges and mossy rockfaces.

Be Aware Before You Go: Hiking past Cedar Rock extends the 2-mile route to 5.5 miles, making it one of the most strenuous waterfall hikes in the vicinity.

8. Cove Creek Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hike distance: 2 km.

Parking is accessible in a tiny lot across the street from the Cove Creek Camping sign.

Hiking difficulty: easy.

It’s on Forest Road 809. Head over to the group campsites. Make a right turn onto a side route at the first creek crossing.

These fifty-foot-tall falls have an amazing circular walking track with side trips to other waterfalls. This is an excellent place to go waterfall chasing if you want to view some waterfalls!

Before You Go: Until you get to a fork, follow the signs for Cove Creek Falls. Turn left, then double back and turn right to see the very top of the falls.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that the trails in this region aren’t as well-maintained or apparent, so allow extra time for your journey.

9. Daniel Ridge Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hike Length: 1-mile roundtrip or 4-mile loop

Parking Situation: To get to the trailhead, drive about 12 miles past the Cove Creek Campground until you get to an open area where you may park.

Hiking difficulty: easy.

Access to the trailhead is via Forest Road 475.

These falls are quite beautiful and conveniently located. The granite cliff is home to tiny cascades that drop down the narrow yet broad falls. You may take a brief trip to the falls or, for a longer experience, go in a circle.

Be Aware Before You Travel: Drive beyond the paved road to the parking lot. This should not frighten you; it is quite typical. Because of the uneven terrain, we do not advise using a low-profile vehicle on this road.

10. Slick Rock Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hike distance: 2 km out and back.

Parking: There is an indicated pull-off with a bulletin board, and you can hear the waterfall.

Hiking difficulty: Moderate.

The trailhead is situated on Forest Road 475B.

Walks behind the 35-foot-tall waterfall are possible. There are some incredible ice structures in the winter!

The name of the falls comes from the slick rocks at the top and bottom of the falls. The falls were once crossed by a cow track, which was occasionally used to move stray animals over. This is the start of the popular rock climbing trail, Slick Rock Falls Trail, which is about 3/4 mile long.

Know Before You Go: When making travel plans, keep in mind that these falls, like most others, are much more breathtaking following a heavy downpour.

It’s also important to note that, throughout the winter, the main road frequently closes, forcing you to go the extra mile to observe the ice.

11. Log Hollow Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Roundtrip walk distance: 1 mile

Forest Service Road 5043 is gated and has parking. Avoid parking in front of the gate directly!

The stroll was easy.

Walk down to see the falls after taking FS-475B to the intersection with FS-5043.

This less well-known waterfall cascades over rocks for 25 feet. This might be a nice place to be alone yourself because most people visit Sliding Rock Falls or Looking Glass Falls! Even wild blackberries are edible in late July and early August!

Before leaving: This road is frequently blocked from January to March, which is the winter season.

12. Looking Glass Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hiking distance: none.

Parking situation: There is a parking lot beside the road.

Hiking difficulty: easy.

The location is 2576 US Highway.

The Pisgah National Forest’s 60-foot Looking Glass Falls is particularly well-known since it doesn’t need climbing! Just stop by the side of the road and take in its splendor. It becomes crowded, therefore we advise going someplace else!

Throughout the winter, water freezes on the side of Looking Glass Rock, producing the mirror-like image that gives this autumn its name.

Be Aware Before You Go: Although you can see it from the road, climbing some stairs will bring you closer and give you a better view.

13. Moore Cove Falls

Pisgah Ranger District

1.4-mile stroll.

Parking situation: VERY hidden lot. The landmark to look for is a little stone bridge with a parking area on your right just before it. Near the parking area, there is a wooden information board.

Hiking Difficulty: Easy

The trailhead is on US 276.

This 50-foot hidden gem sits near Looking Glass Falls, but many visitors are too focused on the falls to notice it. It is a forest falls cascade. There’s a waterfall you could pass, and the route is awash with gorgeous wildflowers!

Be Aware Before You Go: You may easily combine the three as it is only 2 miles from Sliding Rock Falls and Looking Glass Falls.

It should be noted that although there is a way to the left of the falls that climbs to the summit, it is not advised. It’s slick, and you may fall and die. Spectral? Perhaps. But are you prepared to take that chance?

14. Sliding Rock Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hiking distance: less than one mile.

There is a parking lot.

Hiking difficulty: easy.

The trailhead/lot is located on US 276.

Standing nearly sixty feet tall and smooth enough for tourists to utilize as a natural water slide, this is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest. The bottom of the gorgeous pool is eight feet deep!

Know Before You Go: A lot of families with little children were there, which did not fit our mood. There were lifeguards on duty, and there was a $5 summer admission fee.

15. Twin Falls, Idaho

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hike Distance: 4.5 miles roundtrip (a 6.5-mile steeper loop is also possible).

Parking: A very small parking lot is located directly behind the Pisgah Forest Riding Stables.

Hiking difficulty: Moderate.

FR 477 leads to the trailhead (Avery Creek).

For the price of one, or even free, two waterfalls? Kindly register us! The Twin Falls are a pair of simultaneous, 100-foot waterfalls.

Be Aware Before You Go: There are three waterfalls overall on this tour, including Avery Falls!

16. Skinny Dip Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Roundtrip walk distance: 9 kilometers.

Parking: There is a parking lot.

The walk’s difficulty ranged from simple to tough.

The parking lot is located at Milepost 417.

An amazing swimming hole that seemed like it belonged in a tropical paradise was Skinny Dip Falls! But with just a few small cascades left, it was mostly destroyed by severe floods.

17. Graveyard Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hiking distance is 3.3 miles round trip (loop).

Parking: There is a parking lot.

Hiking difficulty: Moderate.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway, the parking lot is located at milepost 418.8.

The water source of Graveyard Fields, where Graveyard Falls is located, was formerly home to tree stumps that resembled gravestones. Late July hikers to the falls are treated to an abundance of wildflowers, blueberries, and blackberries.

Be Aware Before You Go: Take advantage of this as it’s one of the few hiking locations with facilities in the Parkway area!

18. Cathey’s Creek Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hike Distance: Less than a mile.

The parking situation is as follows: an unmarked pullout.

Easy walk (short but hilly).

The Forest Service Road 471 is where you may find the pull-off. You will be able to see the sign for Forest Service Road 471, which marks the beginning of the national forest.

Situated within a picturesque cove, the 80-foot-tall waterfall may be heard but not seen from the road. It lies in the less-visited area of the Pisgah National Forest.

Be Aware Before You Go: This is not so much a hiking route as it is a short stroll that mimics a steep hill.

19. Courthouse Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Roundtrip walk distance: 1.4 kilometers.

There is a pull-off for parking.

Hiking difficulty: Moderate.

After the bridge, the trailhead is located three km up FR 140.

Situated in a stunning lagoon, Courthouse Falls is a breathtaking sight, soaring to a height of 45 feet. Swimming is ideal in the deep pool that the waterfall empties into. Because it’s more secluded, this location is ideal for a date by the waterfall!

Be Aware Before You Go: The route is rough and should not be driven by cars with low ground clearance since it is frequently blocked in the winter and early spring.

20. Turtleback Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

The hike length is 2.5 miles (1.5 miles to Rainbow Falls and 1 mile roundtrip to Turtle Back).

Parking: There is a parking lot.

Hiking difficulty: Moderate.

within the state park of Gorges. Signs directing you to the Rainbow Falls Parking Area mark the trailhead. The name comes from this little waterfall that tumbles over a rock that resembles a turtle shell. A popular summertime activity is sliding down the falls and into the pool below.

It should be noted that because of past accidents and fatalities in the area, state park rangers strongly advise against doing so. Though it’s not illegal, you might love it.

Know Before You Go: Exercise extreme caution if you choose to swim because the currents are pretty strong! No children may swim, and you must be an extremely strong swimmer.

21. Rainbow Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District

Hike distance: 1.5 km each way.

Parking: There is a parking lot.

Hiking difficulty: Moderate.

within the state park of Gorges. Signs directing you to the Rainbow Falls Parking Area mark the trailhead. (The park name changes from Gorges State Park to Pisgah about twenty minutes after leaving the parking area.)

Among the Blue Ridge Mountains’ most exquisite waterfalls is this one. The Horsepasture River creates the rainbow appearance that gives the falls its name as it cascades down a 125-foot plunge!

Be Aware Before You Go: Walk beyond Rainbow Falls for approximately ten minutes to get to Turtleback Falls. Additionally, be advised that crossing many streams might result in wet feet! Bring along some water-resistant trainers.

Itineraries Suggestions

Unless you have extraordinary teleportation abilities, you won’t be able to see every waterfall on this list in a single day (ugh, jealousy!).

So that you may do them every day, I categorized them all and gave recommended home bases from which to watch the waterfalls. For a romantic road trip, set out to see some amazing landscapes and bring any questions you may have!

Group 1 prefers Linville or Banner Elk as a home base.

  • Falls next to South Harper Creek

     

  • Falls along Upper Creek

     

  • Falls beside the Elk River (It is possible, even though it would take a lot of travel to complete in a single day! One might also accomplish this on their own.

Group 2: Brevard (preferably) or Asheville as a home base.

  • Falls of Cedar Rock.
  • Twin Falls, Idaho
  • Falls along Cove Creek
  • Falls on Daniel Ridge.
  • Falls along Grogan Creek
  • Skinny Dip Waterfalls.
  • Falls in Log Hollow.
  • The Sliding Rock
  • Falls of the Looking Glass
  • The Slick Rock
  • The Graveyard Falls
  • Moore Cove waterfalls
  • Falls of Cathey’s Creek
  • The courthouse collapsed.
  • Turtleback Canyon
  • The Rainbow Falls

Stand-alone – Barnardsville or Asheville provide suitable home bases.

  • Douglas collapses.

Stand-alone – Barnardsville or Asheville are suitable home bases.

  • Roaring Fork Canyon

If you’re already on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you really should see this. It is not worth spending an entire day traveling only to see it.

Checklist for Packing

Here are some essentials for an enjoyable day exploring Pisgah National Forest for waterfalls!

  • Our favorite shoes are trail running shoes or hiking boots! We promise you’ll want these for the trails. Verify that they offer a secure grip and are comfortable! These are great for both ladies and gentlemen!
  • Waterproof Jacket: Beware of unexpected splashes from waterfalls, which have a life of their own! AMAZING FOR BOTH WOMEN AND MEN.
  • People, remember to stay hydrated—North Carolina can be hot!
  • Snack Attack: Pack energy bars, trail mix, and maybe a sandwich.
  • A cooler backpack to keep drinks and food cold. (Don’t forget to pack some wine or beer!)
  • An Instagram-worthy waterfall shot may be captured using a camera with a waterproof case. We love our Osmo Pocket so much.
  • Map of the Pisgah Forest: Although it’s outdated, this method works well for uncovering those hidden aquatic treasures. especially since there was no longer any phone service!
  • Mobile Phone Charging Device: On an adventure, you wouldn’t want your phone to die, would you?
  • First Aid Materials: Just in case! Being careful is preferable to being regretful.
  • Put on insect repellant and sunblock.
  • Sunglasses and a hat: For protection from the sun and a chic exploration vibe.
  • Backpack: carrying everything you’ll need on your expedition.
  • Towel: You may find yourself wanting to stick your toes in!
  • Binoculars: Closer inspection is often necessary for the best views.
  • Flashlight: In case you need to continue your mission after nightfall.
  • Reusable Bag: For all waste kinds. Let’s preserve Pisgah’s beauty!

21 Waterfalls for Adventure in the Pisgah National Forest (2024)

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Conclusion

Don’t miss the breathtaking splendor of the Pisgah National Forest Waterfalls when you’re in Western North Carolina. Get your nature fix by soaking up some sun, whether you’re planning a romantic weekend getaway in Asheville or a day trip to go waterfall chasing and relax by the gorgeous pools.

You’re sure to discover a waterfall you like in “The Land of Waterfalls,” since there are plenty of them to explore. Just don’t forget to check the maps at the trailhead and bring refreshments. Act accordingly, not as we would. #Apologies.

4 thoughts on “21 Waterfalls for Adventure in the Pisgah National Forest (2024)

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