When the weather gets hot, cool off at these natural wonders.
Rushing water cascading off the side of a rocky cliff is a sight to behold, and you don’t have to be an accomplished hiker to experience them. Anyone can explore numerous waterfalls in the Carolinas without venturing too far from the road. In fact, many of the best ones to visit are just a quarter mile from a parking area. These are some of the most awe-inspiring waterfalls that will have you reaching for your camera to capture a stunning photo without breaking a sweat.
Transylvania County, N.C.
Known as the Land of Waterfalls, the region around Brevard, N.C., has over 250 waterfalls to explore. In fact, the destination is said to have the highest concentration of waterfalls in the United States. You can request their official waterfall guide at www.VisitWaterfalls.com.
Looking Glass Falls
Considered one of the most photographed waterfalls in America (after Niagara Falls), this stunning roadside waterfall is easily accessible. Located in Pisgah National Forest, the 60-foot waterfall is named after Looking Glass Rock, which shimmers like a mirror when frozen water on the surface glistens in the sunlight. The top viewing area is accessible for those with mobility issues, with additional lower platforms getting guests closer to the mist and the opportunity to swim in the water at the base of the falls.
Found in DuPont State Recreational Forest, this iconic waterfall was featured in The Last of the Mohicans. It was named after Edmund Hooker, an area mill operator in the 1800s. The 0.25-mile walk from the parking lot is flat and easy. Lined by the sandy banks of the Little River, the base of the falls provides a pool perfect for swimming. Want to keep exploring? Head to Bridal Veil Falls (pictured above) and nearby Grassy Creek Falls also in Dupont State Forest
Sliding Rock Falls
This Pisgah National Forest attraction is one of the most beloved destinations in Transylvania County. Kids and adults love sliding down into the frigid waters of the waterfall to a pool below. If you aren’t brave enough to try the natural waterslide, it’s just as much fun to stand on the handicap accessible viewing platform and watch the daredevils. A $2 parking fee is collected between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Batson Creek Falls and Connestee Falls
Located near Brevard, one stop at the parking area leads to views of two different waterfalls. The handicap accessible location offers a short path to Batson Creek Falls, with a view of the top of Connestee Falls.
The tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains is located across the N.C. and S.C. state lines. The Upper Whitewater Falls is 411 feet tall in Nantahala National Forest near Sapphire, with an additional 400-foot drop from South Carolina’s Lower Whitewater Falls. The 0.25-mile walkway to the upper overlook is wheelchair accessible. Stairs lead to a lower viewing deck. There’s a $2 parking fee for vehicles.
Macon County, N.C.
Dry Falls It’s rare to be able to walk behind a waterfall, but that’s what you’ll find at Dry Falls near Highlands. A 0.25-mile trail leads to a surprisingly accessible waterfall on the Cullasaja River in Nantahala National Forest. The trailhead’s viewing platform of the falls is wheelchair accessible. Further down the path is a paved trail that meanders behind the 65-foot drop for a cool respite from summertime heat. The short, easy walk and the chance to stand under a waterfall make this a family favorite.
Upstate South Carolina
Twin Falls An easy 0.25-mile walk from the parking area reveals two waterfalls, a large 75-foot drop partnered with a shorter waterfall to the side. Twin Falls is also known as Reedy Cove Falls, Rock Falls and Eastatoe Falls, but the 15-minute walk to this double wonder is singularly unique.
Falls Park on the Reedy This 32-acre urban park is located in the heart of downtown Greenville. Combine an accessible walk to a 28-foot waterfall with shopping, dining and even a zoo nearby. Want to get more steps in? The 14-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail is a multi-use greenway along the river.
Ready for a refreshing “falls” escape? Call your AAA Travel Agent at 800-398-0379 for hotel reservations and other travel arrangements.
(Photos courtesy of: VisitWaterfalls.com, RomanticAsheville.com and Lynn Seldon/Discover Upcountry SC)
(Go Magazine May/June 2018)