Looking to go chasing waterfalls? You’re in luck. As a local, I’m here to guide you to the best waterfalls near Asheville. This area is filled with hundreds of cascades just waiting to be explored.
In this Asheville guide, I cover the top waterfalls worth visiting, plus a few hidden gems and options for every type of visitor. In my opinion, exploring waterfalls is one of the best things to do while visiting Asheville.
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Waterfalls Near Asheville
- Tips on Waterfalls Near Asheville
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15 Best Waterfalls Near Asheville
A dramatic waterfall with stunning rocky scenery in Linville Gorge Wilderness Area
If you want to see a truly scenic waterfall from some amazing vantage points, I highly recommend visiting Linville Falls. It plunges 90 feet down into the Linville Gorge and is surrounded by rugged forest scenery. Its beauty makes it one of the most photographed falls in all of North Carolina.
The falls have 5 viewpoints in total, and these can be accessed via two trails. Erwin’s View Trail is the popular, moderate route, and will take you through 4 overlooks. The Linville Gorge Trail is the more strenuous option, taking you to the base of the waterfall. Linville Falls is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, so you can enjoy a beautiful drive to and from the falls.
👉 Pro Tip: If you take the Linville Gorge Trail, be careful by the base of the waterfall. No swimming either!
Looking Glass Falls
A beautiful, rushing waterfall located by the roadside in Pisgah National Forest outside of Brevard
Looking Glass Falls is the perfect roadside waterfall and is super popular among visitors. In fact, if you visit, expect to see long lines of cars parked along the road in Pisgah National Forest. Nonetheless, this waterfall is perfect for snapping photos and getting up close to the mist.
You can swim in the pool and river at the base of the waterfall, just do so at your own risk and be careful around rocks. Looking Glass Falls is one of the easiest, most accessible waterfalls near Asheville, so it’s a great option for those who can’t hike. You can also picnic on the rocks at the base of Looking Glass Falls.
To avoid crowds, I recommend visiting in the morning or early evening. Weekdays are especially less-crowded if you can swing it.
📚 Related Reading: Looking Glass Falls is located right outside the town of Brevard, which is on our list of the 17 best towns in Western North Carolina!
High Falls, Hooker Falls, and Triple Falls
A fun, family-friendly hike with three gorgeous waterfalls in DuPont State Forest
This waterfall hike in DuPont State Forest is one of the best waterfall hikes near Asheville, especially for families. I have hiked this trail countless times myself, and it’s my go-to for friends and family who are visiting from out of town.
The trail takes you by three waterfalls: Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls. Each one is beautiful and offers something unique.
Hooker Falls is calm and has a great, wide-open area for swimming. Triple Falls is a great spot for picnicking on the rocks. High Falls is by far the most dramatic waterfall on this hike, and my personal favorite. The trail itself is pretty easy but has some mildly steep spots.
👉 Fun Fact: Scenes from The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans were filmed at Triple Falls!
Skinny Dip Falls
A hidden Blue Ridge Parkway mountain cascade with deep pools for swimming
Skinny Dip Falls is a hidden waterfall with a seriously cool swimming hole — both literally and figuratively. It’s located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway right across from Looking Glass Rock overlook.
It’s a great spot to hit up in the summertime for a refreshing swim and more secluded walk. This is one of my personal favorite waterfalls near Asheville, and it’s usually not as crowded as some other popular spots.
Lastly, don’t mind the name. No skinny dipping happening here! Just some good ol’ waterfall fun.
👉 My Favorite Gear: Chacos are my all-time favorite outdoor sandal, which you’ll want to add to your North Carolina packing list. I highly recommend wearing them even while you swim to protect your feet and keep them from slipping on rocks.
A smooth, natural water slide in Pisgah National Forest
If you’re looking for a memorable experience for the whole family, head over to Sliding Rock! This waterfall is naturally smooth and rounded, with a deep creek at the bottom. This makes it the perfect natural water slide. It’s located just outside of the town of Brevard in Pisgah National Forest and is super popular with visitors.
If you’re wondering how Sliding Rock works, it’s simple: you sit down, slide, and splash into the cool Davidson River below! Just come prepared in a bathing suit and water shoes to protect your feet. A lifeguard is always on duty, and there’s a banister to hold on to as you climb to the top. So even though this waterfall is slick, it’s safe for everyone to enjoy.
Upper Whitewater Falls
A stunning Nantahala National Forest waterfall that’s easily accessible
Upper Whitewater Falls is the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies. In fact, this waterfall has a 411-foot drop! The cascade itself is tall and long, and the way it fits into the mountain and forest makes it a truly scenic spot.
Upper Whitewater Falls is a great family-friendly option. From the parking lot, you take a short, paved pathway (with stairs) to reach the overlook. If you are up for a more challenging hike, though, there’s a trail down to the river.
👉 Pro Tip: Upper Whitewater Falls is extremely steep. Obey signs and stay on marked trails, as wandering off can be dangerous with dramatic drop-offs.
Walk behind this rushing waterfall in Nantahala National Forest
Dry Falls is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This is because you can actually walk behind the rushing waterfall! The cascade itself is 75 feet tall and swells during the spring and summer, making for a unique and memorable experience.
The walk to reach Dry Falls is super short, so it’s ideal for visitors who aren’t really up to hiking. Dry Falls is also located in Highlands, NC in Nantahala National Forest. So, even though it’s a longer drive, it’s one of the best day trips from Asheville, offering plenty to do.
👉 Pro Tip: Near Dry Falls is a waterfall called Bridal Veil Falls. Note that this is different from the Bridal Veil Falls in DuPont State Forest, which is mentioned below.
Bridal Veil Falls
A smooth, wide waterfall in DuPont State Forest
Up for a calming waterfall hike amidst the trees? Consider visiting Bridal Veil Falls in DuPont State Recreational Forest. This hike, though longer, is relatively easy and flat. It goes along gravel roads in the state forest and even passes through a cool, covered bridge.
Bridal Veil Falls itself is less of a dramatic drop, but rather, a smooth, expansive cascade. This waterfall and trail tend to be less busy. So, if you’re looking for a peaceful walk and trying to avoid crowds, this is a good option.
A classic rushing waterfall set in the heart of the forest, not far from Linville Falls
At Crabtree Falls, you can expect a serene woodland waterfall. In the summer, there are beautiful wildflowers and in the fall, colorful foliage. Hidden back in the forest, it’s an especially peaceful scene. Plus, it’s located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway!
The hike to Crabtree Falls takes a couple of hours to complete, so definitely set aside the time for it. There are two trail options to reach the falls: one trail that takes you to the falls and back, and the other, which is a longer, more difficult loop. Keep in mind that both trails have steep and rocky spots, which make it a moderate to strenuous hike.
Note that Crabtree Falls is not far from Linville Falls. So, if you’re feeling really ambitious, it’s a good second hike to tackle if you want to see two waterfalls in one day.
👉 My Favorite Gear: Quality hiking shoes are always a good idea when exploring a steeper, rocky trail like this one.
Accessible from Gorges State Park, this dramatic, misty waterfall creates beautiful little rainbows
Technically, Rainbow Falls is set in Pisgah National Forest but is accessible from Gorges State Park. This waterfall is unique because the water plummets down a wide rock face and into a pool full of boulders. If you visit the falls when the sun is hitting just right, you’ll see rainbows created by all the mist (hence the name Rainbow Falls). It’s a truly beautiful sight.
Although this hike is longer and around 3 miles, it’s still a doable, family-friendly option. And if you continue the trail another half mile past Rainbow Falls, you’ll reach Turtleback Falls. Overall, this popular hike near Sapphire and Lake Toxaway is definitely worth visiting if you’re out exploring this area.
East of Asheville along the Catawba River, this woodland waterfall is peaceful and idyllic
If you don’t want to drive far to reach waterfalls near Asheville, head to Catawba Falls. Catawba Falls is an idyllic, stairway-type waterfall in the middle of the forest. It’s less dramatic than other waterfalls, but the water tumbles beautifully down the plant-covered rock face. This makes it a charming waterfall worth visiting.
The hike meanders along the Catawba River up to the falls and has a few steady climbs. The surrounding forest is dense and quite lush. Once you reach Catawba Falls, you can enjoy a picnic on the rocks or some splashing and playing in the cool pool of water.
Graveyard Fields Upper & Lower Falls
Two Blue Ridge Parkway waterfalls located in a scenic, high-elevation valley
Graveyard Fields is a popular hiking trail with upper and lower falls. It’s in a high-elevation valley towards the top of the Blue Ridge Parkway, so the scenery really sets it apart from other waterfalls. Trees and views of the Blue Ridge Mountains encompass the valley, and it’s especially beautiful in the fall.
The hike to both waterfalls is doable for visitors of all ages since the trails are relatively flat. Lower Falls can be reached with a short, downhill walk from the parking lot. Just know that there are quite a few stairs! To see the Upper Falls, you’ll need to hit the 4-mile trail loop. Either way, be sure to have a trail map handy since there aren’t too many signs.
Tom’s Creek Falls
An easy hike that leads to a tall, narrow cascade in Pisgah National Forest near Little Switzerland
Tom’s Creek Falls is narrow and seemingly small, but stunning nonetheless. Its natural stairway structure makes it a gorgeous waterfall to see up close. The walk is really short, so it’s a great option for visitors of all ages. Tom’s Creek Falls is also located close to the village of Little Switzerland so it feels tucked away.
Once you reach the falls, there’s an observation deck to admire views from. But if you take a right before you reach the observation deck, you can follow the spur trail to the base of the falls. Here, you can wade in the creek and enjoy looking at the mica-filled rocks! If you want to stick to waterfalls near Asheville, Tom’s Creek Falls is an ideal choice.
Hickory Nut Falls
A tall and dramatic waterfall with a near-vertical drop, located inside Chimney Rock State Park
Hickory Nut Falls is only a short 45-minute drive from Asheville. A trip to these falls and exploring Chimney Rock State Park make for a family-friendly day of outdoor adventure.
At first glance, these falls look a tad unassuming. But if you look up, you’ll realize just how dramatic this waterfall’s plummet truly is. In fact, it’s a 404-foot, near-vertical drop! Its height makes it one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. If you’re planning on spending a day in Chimney Rock State Park or nearby Lake Lure, give Hickory Nut Falls a visit!
Moore Cove Falls
An easy, family-friendly walk in Pisgah National Forest that leads to a tall, trickling cascade
Moore Cove is a short, mellow hike for visitors of all ages. I especially recommend it to visitors who plan on stopping at nearby Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest. It’s an easy pit-stop kind of hike to tack on.
The walk up to Moore Cove Falls is surrounded by trees and passes by creeks. It’s perfectly serene. The end of the trail will leave you at Moore Cove Falls’ 50-foot water drop.
In the spring and summer, the water tumbles down. In the fall, though, it’s more of a gentle trickle. Since there’s space to walk around the actual cascade, it’s a cool family-friendly waterfall to visit. Just be careful around any slick rocks!
Tips on Waterfalls Near Asheville
Be careful and listen to safety precautions
This should go without saying, but be careful when visiting waterfalls near Asheville. Most waterfalls do not have lifeguards, and some visitors dismiss important safety signage. Wet rocks around waterfalls can be extremely slick, and it’s easy to slip. So always proceed with caution and wear water shoes or outdoor sandals if you plan on wading through or close to the water.
Do not climb up the waterfalls
As unfortunate as it is, many people die (mostly tourists) each year due to accidents involving waterfalls near Asheville. This is usually caused by people not taking warnings and signage seriously.
Here are two things to keep in mind. One, don’t wade too close to the edge of a waterfall. Second, don’t try to climb up the waterfalls. And as always, practice common sense and good judgement.
The best time to see waterfalls is in spring and summer
If you’re keen on seeing waterfalls, then the best time to visit Asheville is in the spring and summer. This is because in the spring, the winter snow from the mountains melts, and the rivers really flow. In the summer, the high volume of rainfall leads to the same effect.
Be sure to check out all these waterfalls near Asheville! Because what’s a trip to some of the best places in North Carolina if you don’t spot waterfalls along the way?
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