Accessible Waterfalls on National Forests in NC

National Forests in North Carolina is home to many spectacular waterfalls, and several of these are easily accessible and provide excellent views just yards away from your vehicle. These waterfalls are excellent options for those who may not have the time to head into the backcountry, or those wishing to see as many of our spectacular sights as possible.


Dry Falls, Nantahala NF
















Dry Falls

This magnificent 75 foot waterfall is located steps away from US 64 on the Nantahala Ranger District. With two viewing areas, visitors can choose to observe from the accessible top deck, or journey down the stairs to a path that leads you underneath the falls. Dry Falls is located along the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway near Highlands and Cashiers. 



Whitewater Falls, Nantahala NF
















Whitewater Falls

With a 411 feet plunge, Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. The paved walkway begins at the parking lot and takes you to the upper overlook, which offers a great view of the falls. To get to the lower overlook, visitors must take 154 stairs to the lower viewing platform. With the exception of the two overlooks near the top, no other views of the falls are offered. The best views of the falls are from the two overlooks. However, some people venture off the trail to try for better views. Tragically, several of these people fell to their deaths or suffered serious injuries at Whitewater Falls. Please stay on the trails.



Looking Glass Falls, Pisgah NF

















Looking Glass Falls

Located right off of the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway on NC 276, Looking Glass Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the east. The top viewing deck is accessible, and stairs will lead visitors down to the lower viewing area. There are no lifeguards on duty. 



Bridal Veil Falls














Bridal Veil Falls 

This 120 foot waterfall is also located right on US 64 heading toward Dry Falls, making this a great pit stop! Visitors can stop and walk right underneath the trickle of water, or view from the road. Bridal Veil is located 2.5 miles west of Highlands along the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.



Waterfall Safety

While waterfalls are beautiful, they are also deadly and dangerous. Serious injuries and death occur at these attractions each year due to carelessness and visitors going off trail. Signs, warnings, and fences are there for a reason. Follow these tips for ensuring a safe and enjoyable visit:

  • Don’t ignore barriers and signs indicating danger. Waterfalls are best viewed from a safe distance. Would you still take the risk if you first thought about how your family will feel when they learn of your death?

  • Don't climb to the top of a waterfall. Wet rocks are slippery! If you really want a photo of yourself at the top, use photo editing software to fake it.

  • Never jump off waterfalls. Rocks and logs can be hidden under water that can result in death or injury.

  • Lifeguards are not on duty at waterfalls or river access areas. 

  • Watch children and pets closely. Currents are strong and they can easily be swept away.


Waterfall Sign