Waterfalls Near Cashiers and Highlands

Western North Carolina is a wonderland of creeks and rivers tightly woven in the terrain of thick mountain laurel and rhododendron of the ancient Appalachian Mountains. Part of the natural characteristics of these mountains is the lush greenery and spectacular mountain views, but along with these incredible geological marvels is the formation of natural waterfalls that are abundant all around the area. Finding a waterfall is like finding a "pot of gold” at the end of a rainbow. Some would say that the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau is a waterfall paradise and every waterfall is a treasure to behold for those ready to explore and discover them.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil FallsCouples who are on their honeymoon, just visiting Highlands for a weekend or for the summer can enjoy this beautiful waterfall just a couple miles outside of Highlands. The water that flows off of an overhang that is approximately 120 feet high, makes a beautiful "veil” of water that falls into a natural culvert below. What makes this waterfall unique is that you can drive under it. There is plenty of parking to stop and take pictures. However, use caution! Huge boulders have fallen from the overhang onto the driveway, twice in the past 10 years. Thousands of people visit this location every year, drive under the falls and take pictures, but do so at your own risk.
  Directions: From down town Highlands, travel east toward Franklin, NC on Hwy 64. Bridal Veil Falls will be on your right in approximately three miles.

Dry Falls

Dry FallsDry Falls is a spectacular waterfall that shoots water off of a huge overhang that extends far enough to allow people to walk under the falls to the other side of the river. Once on the other side of the falls, there is a great place to take pictures with the falls in the background. The waterfall gets its name from being able to walk underneath the falls without getting wet, when in reality, you do get sprayed with a fine mist and can get really wet when the water flow is high. It is located on the Cullasaja River Gorge, right off of Hwy 64 between Highlands and Franklin, NC.
 Directions: From down town Highlands, go east on Hwy 64, toward Franklin, NC for approximately five miles and you will see a forest service sign and the parking area on the left. The parking lot and walkway were renovated in 2012. There are bathrooms available, a viewing platform for those who do not want to walk down to the falls, and a forestry fee station.

Cullasaja Falls

Cullasaja FallsCullasaja Falls is a series of astounding waterfalls on the Cullasaja River and can only be seen from the road (Hwy 64) that runs between Highlands and Franklin, NC. The pull off is very narrow and is extremely dangerous because of cars driving by. Use extreme caution when getting out viewing this spectacular roadside attraction. Cullasaja Falls have been featured in numerous books and photographs and is worth the stop.
 Directions: From down town Highlands, go west on Hwy 64 toward Franklin. Go approximately five miles and the pull-off is on the left. The road is very narrow. There is a rock wall and no place to pull off on the opposite side of the viewing spot. So you may have to go down further to turn around and come back up to safely park on the pull off.

Bust Your Butt Falls (a.k.a. Quarry Falls)

 Quarry FallsBust Your Butt Falls is a fun roadside attraction, just off of Hwy 64 (Highlands Road) between Highlands and Franklin and is on the Cullasaja River. It is a popular swimming hole that is embedded in a round rock setting and has huge boulders all around and just downstream of the swimming hole. Observers use these boulders to bask in the sun and watch tourists and locals alike, swim, traverse the falls to sit in the little pot hole cave in the middle of one of the waterfalls and swimmers who jump off the 60 foot high ledge into the deep pool below. There is parking on the side of the road and up above the falls on the other side of the road. This area is usually very crowded in the summer so drive slowly and use caution. On the other side of the river, there is a trail up to an area where swimmers can jump off into the deep pool below. There are some trees and rocks in the pool that jumpers should watch out for and jump away from, but the rest of the pool is deep enough to jump into. Another real hazard is when there has been an afternoon storm in Highlands (the town upstream) which bring a rush of water down the river. It can create a flash flood and catch unsuspecting swimmers unaware, even on a pretty day, so it would be good to check the weather in Highlands before taking a dip. There is a cave in the waterfall itself and people are able to stand there and sit down behind the waterfall. Warning! It should be duly noted that there have been a few deaths at this waterfall from people standing up and getting their feet caught in the rocks.
Directions: From downtown Highlands, travel west on Highlands Road (Hwy 64) and travel approximately five miles. There will be parking on the right before the falls and parking on both sides of the road just below the falls.

Glen Falls

Glen Falls is a tiered waterfall that has three different viewpoints. The most dramatic being the top of the falls, where you will find a safety railing and a view of the water flowing over the top of the waterfall with the mountains in the background as far as the eye can see on a clear day. Just amazing! The middle tier has two rock shelves that the water flows over which is very similar to the lower part of the falls that has two more shelves that the water flows over. The water then mimics a creek as it flows down the mountain.
Directions: From Highlands traveling toward Franklin (west), turn left (south) on Hwy 106 (Dillard Road) for approximately three miles. You will see a sign that says "Glen Falls Scenic Area” on the left. Turn left and travel approximately 1.5 miles to a parking area where you will find a sign for the Glen Falls Trailhead (left) and the Chinquapin Trailhead (right).

Secret Falls

Secret Falls is a secluded waterfall and swimming hole, but isn’t such a secret anymore due to its popularity. It is located off of Horse Cove Road, a gravel back road between Highlands and Cashiers. The trail leads you through a primitive camping site before the trail splits and goes to the right. This trail leads you to the bottom of the falls and a swimming hole. The other trail goes to the left which leads you to the top of the 60 foot falls.
Directions: From down town, Highlands, NC go east on Hwy 64. It will turn into Horse Cove Road. The road will be curvy for approximately 3.7 miles. Turn right on Walking Stick Road (State Road 1608). Go approximately 2.5 miles and you will reach a fork in the road. Take a right at the fork and go about a quarter of a mile to a gravel road (Forest Road 4567). Go another quarter-of-a-mile to a parking area on the left. You will see a sign for Big Shoals Trail. If the road is gated, you can still walk in (about a quarter-of-a-mile) to the trail head to see the falls. You will cross two creeks before you reach the primitive camp site.

Picklesimer Rock House Falls

Picklesimer Rock House Falls is a unique 40-foot waterfall in the middle of the forest with no other water around it. It is called "Rock House” because of the way the rock overhang creates a cave-like shelter and the water drops straight down from the top. It is a good spot for primitive camping.
Directions: From down town Highlands, drive south on Hwy 28 (toward Walhalla, SC) for about six miles and take a sharp right on SR1618. There will be a sign for the Blue Valley Campground. This road turns to gravel. Drive about four miles and park at an old logging road on the right. As you walk up, you will see a gate across the road. Go beyond the gate for a little over a half mile, through a clearing to a creek. Follow the creek to the right to reach the falls. There are no signs to the falls.

Ranger Falls

Ranger Falls is the perfect little waterfall to wade in and cool off. It is a short, relatively level hike and is family friendly. Ranger Falls is accessible from the Cliffside Lake Recreation Area, which has lots of shelters and has a fee for day use.
Directions: Go into the Cliffside Recreation Area, just off of Hwy 64 between Highlands and Franklin, and go left at the fork. The parking area will be on your left after you pass the lake beach area. The trailhead is at the far end of the parking area heading away from Cliffside Lake.

Sliding Rock

Sliding Rock is a must see because it is just a great big rock slide with pot holes, here and there, carved in the surface of the rock from erosion. The rushing water that spills into a large deep pool of water and is great fun for all ages. It is close to town, easily accessible, and family friendly. The pools of water are such that you can take off your shoes to wade and search for pebbles or just play in the water. Sliding Rock is accessible just off of Horse Cove Road and is a short, easy hike to the falls.
Directions: From the cross roads of Cashiers (Hwy 64 and 107), drive south on Hwy 107 (toward South Carolina) for about two miles and make a right on Whiteside Cove Road. Take this road for about three miles until you cross a bridge just before the parking area on the right. The trailhead is at the parking area and you can hear the rushing water from the car.
From downtown Highlands go south until the road turns into Horse Cove Road. Go about five miles you’ll reach a fork in the road (Whiteside Cove Road to the left and Bull Pen Road to the right). Take Bull Pen Road for less than a mile to the trailhead which is in a curve and at the crest of a hill.

Silver Run Falls

Silver Run FallsSilver Run Falls is a 25 foot waterfall on the Whitewater River just off of Hwy 107 south of Cashiers. The falls are surrounded by thick undergrowth and look primitive and untouched even though it is a popular swimming spot in the summer months. The rushing water spills into a wide, deep swimming area and is easy to access by a short, easy trail just off the side of the road, four miles south of Cashiers. You will cross over a relatively newly constructed bridge before reaching the falls.
Directions: From the crossroads of Hwy 64 and 107 in Cashiers, go south on Hwy 107 toward South Carolina. Travel approximately four miles to the trail head and parking area just off the side of the road on the left.

Paradise Falls

Paradise Falls is a three tiered waterfall with individual pristine swimming holes in each tier. The highest waterfall, the deepest pool and the most impressive is the third tier. There is a rope that hangs down on the rock face to help swimmers climb up to the top, to jump into the deep pool below. The water flow is dictated by a dam upstream so it is advised to check the water-release schedule before venturing in for a swim. Paradise Falls is located in-between Cullowhee and Cashiers. The trail is short, but rough and strenuous. However, the setting is worth searching out this treasure.
Directions: From the crossroads of Hwy 64 and 107 in Cashiers, travel north (toward Glenville) on Hwy 107. Go approximately 14.5 miles. Take a right onto 281 (Canada Road). Drive 12.3 miles to the parking area on the right just past the church.

Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls, also called Upper Falls, at 411 feet high, is known as the highest falls east of the Rockies. It is a North Carolina Natural Heritage Area which is a designation of being "one of the rarest and most outstanding elements of natural diversity in the state.” This is a popular tourist destination and is very busy in the summer season. The walkway from the parking lot that leads to the upper overlook is paved and is handicap accessible. There is a long set of steps down to the lower overlook and a spur trail that descends the mountain side to the Whitewater River. This is a loop trail, is moderately strenuous and has good views of the falls all along the way. In the parking area there are flush toilets, shelters, picnic tables and a fee charged for day use.
Directions: From the crossroads of Cashiers, travel south on Hwy 107 for approximately nine miles to the North Carolina/South Carolina border. After you cross the South Carolina border you will see a sign for Whitewater Falls, then turn left. Go approximately two miles to the intersection of SC Hwy 130 and NC Hwy 281 (which is the North Carolina State Line). You will see a sign for the entrance of Whitewater Falls.