Waterfall Hikes in North Carolina

From the Blue Ridge to the Smoky Mountains, North Carolina has some of the most impressive waterfalls to help you enjoy a beautiful weekend outdoors. Whether you’re looking for a short hike to escape town for the day or a simple roadside lookout or a fun weekend camping out at the base, North Carolina is not short of options to satisfy. In fact, did you know that one of them was a filming location for the first Hunger Games movie?

High Falls and Triple Falls at Dupont State Park

Not too far away from the enchanting town of Hendersonville, you’ll come across Dupont State Park that accommodates two magnificent waterfalls with one easily-accessible hiking trail – one of the filming locations for the first Hunger Games movie. The High Falls Loop trail is two miles long and loops around to keep your hike relatively easy. You’ll first encounter the High Falls waterfall, where the Little River tumbles down, then you’ll be met with a spur trail that leads to Triple Falls. The best place for parking will be near the visitor center, as that is also where the trail begins.

Catawba Falls

Many local residents may be familiar with this short hiking trail. It is easily accessible off Interstate 40 when you take exit 73 and drive three miles to the end of Catawba River Drive. This waterfall has the impressive appearance of dozens of tinier waterfalls that weave around the mountain boulders. If you get close enough, you may enjoy the serenity of nature’s water sounds and the mist floating through the air on a hot summer’s day.

The Catawba Falls allows for a great family hike as it is about 1.2 miles slightly uphill to reach the base of the waterfall, where you can also enjoy a refreshing dip in the cool water. Around the waterfall is large boulders and fallen trees, ideal for a relaxing picnic with a waterfall view.

Skinny Dip Falls

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Skinny Dip Falls takes the impression of flowing waters around a series of rippled ledges for a peaceful surrounding. The naturally-created deep pools are ideal for a relaxing day lounging about. The trailhead leading to the waterfall is unmarked, but you can find it across the road from the Looking Glass Rock Overlook parking lot along mile marker 417. Try to stick to the main pathway where the entrance signpost will say Mountains to Sea Trail.

Sliding Rock Falls

Popular for its family-friendly destination, Sliding Rock Falls is a beautiful stream of clean water on a gentle incline where individuals can carefully slide down 60 feet on the slippery rocks. The clear water will carry you into a deep pool at the bottom for a safe transition back to land. During the summer months, the waterfall is monitored by lifeguards, and certain safety rules are put into place to make it suitable for all ages. While picnicking is not allowed, there are changing rooms and restrooms nearby. Additionally, there is a small fee charged per person from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Whitewater Falls in Nantahala National Forest

Surrounded by lush trees and vegetation, the Whitewater Falls is one of the most impressive and largest waterfalls in North Carolina that tumbles 811 feet over two massive ledges. The first lookout is easily accessible at a quarter-mile walk from the parking lot with a paved pathway suitable for both strollers and wheelchairs. For a better view, you have the option of walking down a little flight of stairs to another viewing platform. Being in the Nantahala National Forest, there is a small fee to park, but in return, you have plenty of picnic shelters, barbecues, and clean restrooms.

Linville Falls

Offering multiple trails with varying levels of difficulty, the Linville Falls is a beautiful attraction that sits high on a cliff wall with trees that decorate the sides in the midst of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is east of Asheville, located along mile post 316.4. The main trail offers two lookouts, with the first being a simple half-mile walk. If you wish to climb down to the waterfall’s pools, take the .75-mile-long Linville Gorge trail at the end of Erwins View Overlook.

Why add the stress of traveling out-of-state this summer when you can create some of the best memories right here in North Carolina!


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