There’s something inherently soothing about waterfalls. Whether it’s thundering or gently descending in diamond-like drops, moving water speaks to our souls.
Amid the mountains of western North Carolina, around Highlands, Cashiers, and Sapphire, there are numerous waterfalls just waiting to envelop you in their clear, rushing calm. And many are easy to find. Ranging from magnificent cascades to smaller sparkling spills, here are a few to check out in the area.
Bridal Veil Falls: Sliding down the mountainside along Highway 64, this forty-five-foot fall drops water in delicate, shimmering sheets that bring to mind a bride’s lacy veil and is visible without even leaving your car.
Cullasaja Falls: Rolling along Highway 64, the Cullasaja River is smothered in mountain laurel shade before being hurled over this multi-layered waterfall that bubbles and bounces for 250 feet over a series of ragged outcrops.
Dry Falls: Get a behind-the-scenes view at this waterfall, also right off Highway 64. Foamy torrents plunge over a craggy rock ledge that stretches far from the hill supporting it, creating a space behind the waterfall large enough to walk through without getting wet (hence the name).
Glenn Falls: This glittering gush of water is easy to access from a trail off of Highway 106. You don’t have to walk far to get a good glimpse, but if you make the effort to take the long, downhill trek to the end of the trail, you’ll be rewarded with a picture-perfect look at the cataract in its full glory.
Sliding Rock: Take a ride down Mother Nature’s water slide, Sliding Rock Falls, where a wide swath of stream rolls across flat, moss-covered rocks. At least one bruise is practically guaranteed, but so is some good, old-fashioned fun.
Whitewater Falls: This majestic 411-foot waterfall off Highway 281 plummets in roaring ribbons of whitewater to create the highest fall east of the Rockies. A paved walkway leads to a breathtaking look at the falls, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike down to the bottom for an even better view. But don’t rush your walk to get to the waterfall. Stop to gaze at the wildflowers (and butterflies they attract) scattered along the edge of the path.
Silver Run Falls: Stroll down a quiet, level path under a canopy of trees to discover this tranquil gem off Highway 107. It puts off a soft cooling spray as it tumbles into a calm, clear pool that’s perfect for a quick swim.
Turtle Back Falls: This small, twenty-foot fall deep in the Pisgah National Forest rumbles over a rock resembling a giant turtle shell. A trail off the Grassy Ridge parking area in Gorges State Park leads you to it.
Rainbow Falls: Accessed by the same trail that leads to Turtle Back Falls, this 150-foot waterfall is one of the area’s most magnificent and wildly beautiful and is named for the multiple arcs of color that float in the mist around it. The entire creek seems to disappear around a bend only to be thrown over the top of the waterfall’s precipice.
Toxaway Falls: This waterfall has a bit of historic lore behind its spider-web of water. Legend says that a Cherokee leader named Toxaway is buried near the top of the falls.
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