Some of the best kept secrets are hidden along the trails of Cashiers, Cherokee, Sylva and Dillsboro – waterfalls. In all 25+ waterfalls ranging from powerful cascading falls to gentle flows, all which make for one-of-a-kind photo opportunities.
Whitewater Falls is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies, falling a total of 811 feet. With an easy hike, a newly-paved path to an overlook with an excellent view of the falls and shelters perfect for picnicking, this is the perfect waterfall for families to enjoy. Though the Upper Falls, which drops over 411 feet, are located near Cashiers, NC, the Lower Falls are just across the South Carolina state line. There are a few different places to visit to get various perspectives of the falls, and each one as just as breathtaking as the next. Directions can be found here. Remember to bring a few dollar bills for parking.
Schoolhouse Falls is the most well-known waterfalls in Jackson County’s Panthertown Valley. Though not the tallest waterfall at 18 feet, this waterfall isn’t lacking in beauty – Schoolhouse Falls is a mix of small cascades that end in a stunning free fall from Greenland Creek. Schoolhouse Falls provides an excellent opportunity for photographers to capture its natural beauty. In addition to watching the falls, visitors can enjoy a moderate hike on the Little Green Mountain trail, which is located right next to the falls and offers breathtaking views. The pool at the bottom of the falls can also make a fantastic swimming hole on nicer days, but visitors should be mindful of slippery rocks and sensitive plant life. Schoolhouse Falls is kid and pet-friendly. Directions and a hike description can be found here.
For those seeking an easy trek not far off the beaten path, Silver Run Falls is extremely popular, family-friendly spot for locals and tourists alike. The 40-foot cascading waterfall tumbles into Silver Run Creek, making it a favorite for photographers looking for the perfect shot underneath the falls. The large, sandy pool is calm and glassy, ideal for swimming in the shallows, or having a picnic on the small beach that surrounds the pool. The falls are just a short walk from the parking lot on U.S. 64. Directions can be found here.
During certain times of the year (exact dates of which can be found here), Lake Glenville’s normally calm, small-stream High Falls turns into the most powerful waterfall in the North Carolina mountains during Duke Energy’s recreational Glenville Dam water release, transforming the falls into a spectacular sight. Those who aren’t up for paddling the Class IV rapids can take a short 0.6-mile hike down stairs to the 150-foot High Falls, and watch the kayakers take on the five-mile challenge. The hike descends steeply down through the beautiful, lush forest to the river’s banks in a total of 650 feet in 0.75 miles on 75 flights of manmade stairs. The rushing waters of High Falls can be heard long before reaching the fall itself as it pours over a 100+ foot cliff into the boulder-filled pool below. The hike back up can be strenuous but is well worth the beautiful view of the falls. Directions to the falls can be found here.