Highlands and Cashiers are known for endless exciting activities in the scenic beauty of majestic nature. But the most picturesque of all the attractions in the area are the numerous waterfalls. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.
When it comes to waterfalls, North Carolina has a lot to offer. You can hike to these spectacular natural wonders in Cashiers or find easily accessible ones in Highlands. And the best part is that regardless of whether you take the trip with your family or friends, everyone will love the scenic beauty of these ancient forests. And seeing the beautiful waterfalls after a long excursion in the wilderness can feel as exciting as winning the jackpot at the Sizzling Hot online casino game. The only thing is that there are so many sites in Highlands and Cashiers that it’s not easy to choose which ones to visit. To help you out, we’ve put together our selection of the best waterfalls in North Carolina. Check it out.
Whitewater Falls in Highlands, NC – Among the Highest Waterfalls Near Cashiers
Whitewater Falls, with a height of over 400 feet, is the highest waterfall on our list. It gets surrounded by untouched nature that has been protected from humans by rock cliffs and steep slopes. Visitors can spot various berries, wildflowers, and unearthly native plants. Plus, there are different fungi, mosses, ferns, and other plant species you’ve probably never seen before.
To get to the waterfalls, you need to drive along Highway 281 from the North Carolina state border towards Whitewater. The hike begins from the picnic and parking area off the highway. The paved trail goes along a route where you can marvel at picturesque views of mountains and the lake Jocassee between them. It’s not an overly long or difficult hike, so everyone in a family can come along. There are even benches on the curves so everyone, who needs it, can take a rest.
When you reach the middle of the trail, you can already see the upper part of the waterfall. From there, the wooden stairs take you to a closer view. But make sure not to step over the observation deck. Waterfalls are dangerous because of the high-pressure water and slippery rocks. You can only be safe if you remain in the designated areas. Jumping from a waterfall, swimming near it, or climbing under it can end with an accident.
Cullasaja Falls in Highlands, NC – Perfect for Hiking
Waterfalls come from water flowing off from soft rock onto solid rock. The Cullasaja falls is shaped the same way by the Cullasaja River. You’ll find it on US Route 64, about 8 miles from Highlands.
If you’re looking for waterfalls without hiking, this one’s for you. You can park your car off the road in a roadside pull-off and admire the waterfall from the parking spot. The view to this one of the most beautiful waterfalls near Highlands and Cashiers becomes especially memorable during the wintertime. That’s when tree leaves have fallen, and you get a fuller picture of the majestic waterfall. If you feel adventurous, you can also step to the unmarked trail taking you closer to the falls. But the rough path is for experienced hikers only.
Dry Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in Highlands, NC
Higher up the Cullassaja river are two more waterfalls: the Dry Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. Both about 3 miles from Highlands, via US Route 64, they’re some of the best waterfalls for kids to see. You can marvel at their beauty safely from the observation areas, and all the roads that take you closer to the waterfalls are paved and secure. Plus, if your little ones want to see waterfalls with rainbow, you can find the sight in Bridal Veil during the afternoon.
By the way, don’t let yourself get fooled by the name. The Dry Falls are anything but dry. And if you go down to the base of the falls, you can even get behind it. That’s not possible with most waterfalls in Cashiers or Highlands, so we’d recommend you to use this unique opportunity. However, don’t expect to remain dry behind the falls.
Glen Falls in Highlands, NC– Calming Sounds of Falling Water
Glen Falls comprises three waterfalls with hiking trails leading to observation areas for each of them. These falls are not among the most dramatic and striking waterfalls of the world. But the calming sound and sight of falling water make them perfect for some contemplation time.
The route that goes downhill is about two miles long, making it an easy walk for the whole family. Leave your car along Highway 106. A gravel road from the sign “Glen Falls” goes directly to a parking area.
The good thing is that if you don’t have enough energy that day, you can keep your excursion short and only go to the first of the falls. But if you go all the way to the second and third falls, make sure to step on a side trail you should see halfway when heading back up. It leads to a spot where you can admire the view on the Overflow Creek with a gorgeous valley around it.
High Falls in Highlands, NC– a Waterfall With Power
It is a unique waterfall because it’s in front of the Lake Glenville Dam. On specific dates a year, the dam is released, and the waterfall becomes immensely powerful. To get to the waterfall, take Highway 107 until you reach Pine Creek Road. Turn left, and soon you should see the High Falls sign. A word of caution: the hike down the road to the waterfall might seem easy. But it’s pretty strenuous to climb back up.
Hurricane Falls in Highlands, NC and Lake Glenville
Hurricane Falls offers a waterfall and lakes experience. It’s not advisable to step onto the unsecure hiking road. But since this falls pours right into Lake Glenville, you can rent a boat and row it close to the waterfall. Pack a lunch with you and have a soothing picnic on the water. And if riding a boat doesn’t sound appealing to you, it’s also possible to take in the view from the roadside. Highway 107 takes you to the falls (5 miles from Cashiers). There’s a pull-off area past the bridge.
Looking Glass Falls in Highlands, NC – See Your Reflection
This waterfall in North Carolina is known for its bottom surface. Its polished granite looks smooth as a looking glass (hence the name). When the water freezes on the surface during the winter, it reflects the sun like a mirror.
The waterfall is 60 feet high and locates in the picturesque Pisgah National Forest. You can get there by Highway 64 in Cashiers. When you’ve reached about 30 miles from the intersection of Highway 64 and Highway 107, take the US 276 and drive another 6 miles.
Silver Run Falls in Highlands, NC – With a Sandy Beach
The Silver Run Falls runs into a fairy-tale-like pool surrounded by beautiful trees. Its height is only 25 feet, but the main attraction in the area is the sandy beach. Both tourists and locals enjoy having picnics here. And yes, you can also go swimming.
Highway 107 to the South takes you to the location. You can spot it from a Forest Service sign that directs you to a gravel parking area. From there, a short trail leads directly to the falls. There’s even a charming little footbridge that takes you over the Whitewater River.
Drift Falls in Highlands, NC – Waterfall at a 45-degree angle
This 80 feet long waterfall is a unique sight. It doesn’t pour straight down like all the other waterfalls on our list. The Drift Falls drops at a 45-degree angle. If you’re into extreme sports, you might even use the cascade as a waterslide (only for the bravest).
The easiest way to get to Drift Falls is to take Highway 64 to Sapphire. It’s about 10 miles from Cashiers. When you get to the “Whitewater” Road, turn right. The Horsepasture River that forms the Drift Falls is about 3 miles to the south from there.
Sliding Rock Falls in Highlands, NC – Only 10 Feet Long
The Sliding Rock Falls is the shortest one on our list. However, the cool water of the Chattooga River makes it an excellent retreat spot for the hot summer days. The water creates a waterslide that runs into several big potholes. You can let the water carry you right into one of the potholes. Less adventurous visitors can also chill in the pool below the waterfall.
The falls is about two miles south of Highway 107. The Whiteside Cover Road takes you right to the Chattooga River. There’s also a beautiful bridge crossing the river. It creates memorable waterfall walks.
Toxaway Falls in Highlands, NC – Make Sure Not to Miss It
The thing with the Toxaway Falls is that it’s easy to drive past it. That’s because there are no trails with the waterfall at the end here. You can spot the waterfall area from a large masonry bridge. It’s about 14 miles on Highway 64 heading east. After crossing the bridge, you can park your car and marvel the Toxaway Falls. It slides over a beautiful colorful bedrock surrounded by spectacular rugged terrain.
Rainbow Falls in Highlands, NC – Catch a Rainbow In the Mornings
The Toxaway lake is the destination of another fall: the Rainbow Falls. With a height of 150 feet, these breathtaking falls bring out a rainbow on sunny mornings. However, it’s not the best place to take your kids because the trail is pretty arduous. On the plus side, the path is easy to follow and marked.
South direction on Highway 281 should take you to signs of Rainbow Falls. You can park your car at the lot and start your hike. The trail is about 1.5 miles. Then you’ll reach the river, where you’ll get a great view of the waterfalls.
Secret Falls in Highlands, NC
Secret Falls in the Highlands is also known as the Big Shoals Falls. It showers down into a scenic pool that’s perfect for cooling yourself during summer’s heat. The hike to the waterfalls is only half a mile, so it should be manageable for most people. However, getting to the trail is a bit tricky. First, you take Highway 64 from Cashiers. Then turn left onto Main Street. You need to ride your car through a town and further until you reach the Walking Stick road. Turn right and follow the road for two miles until you get to a bridge. Cross the bridge and drive until FR4567. Turn right, and you should get to a parking lot and a sign that says “Secret Falls.” Congratulations, you’ve reached your destination.
So this was our extensive list of eye-catching waterfalls to hike in Cashiers and Highlands, NC. Except for the Toxaway Falls, they all have trails that take you to viewing platforms and great spots to marvel at the beauty of a majestic fall.
Some of the falls, like the Whitewater falls, are perfect for visiting with the whole family. Others, like the High Falls, are more suitable for only the physically fit.
But one thing’s for sure: all the falls in this list are wondrous sights that make great pictures and memorable moments. We promise you, once you’ve seen one of the falls in Highlands, North Carolina, you’ll be coming back to see more of them.
Did we miss any of your favorite waterfalls in Highlands and Cashiers? Let us know in the comments.
Arthur Rowley is an avid writer specializing in travel. Having spent years finessing his craft, he now can ensure you that Arthur has much acclaim for these areas and dedication to providing high-quality blogging content.