Welcome to one of the most beautiful places on Earth - the mountains of western North Carolina! There are literally hundreds of waterfalls and miles and miles of hiking trails in this area - you could spend a lifetime trying to see everything. Western North Carolina is blessed to have over a million acres of national forests, national parks, state parks, and other public lands for our enjoyment and use. The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests comprise most of this land and offer multiple uses including hiking, water, mountain biking, camping, and horseback riding. Our state parks offer the same activities and contain some of the lesser know hidden jewels. New state parks are still being developed - Gorges State Park, Chimney Rock State Park, and the new Grandfather Mountain State Park are still in their infancy stages of development. And of course there's the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway - America's Favorite Drive. Men and women with extraordinary vision preserved these special places and are constantly working to save more and improve what has already been saved. They do this because they love the land, they love the beauty Mother Nature has bestowed upon this area, and because they want to share it with you, me, and everyone that will take the time to get out and experience it.
Of course, the scenery doesn't stop at the North Carolina border. Upstate South Carolina and Georgia have beautiful waterfalls in their mountain areas. There are enough waterfalls in central and Eastern Tennessee to fill another web site - and of course there's the Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the NC/TN border. I've done my best to include their waterfalls in this site, but still have a lot more places to visit.
I didn't discover this area until 1998. That's when friends invited me up to their mountain home in Lake Toxaway to hike to some of the waterfalls in the area. My first falls were Drift, Turtleback and Rainbow Falls along the Horsepasture River and I've been hooked ever since. I lived near Raleigh at the time and it was a struggle to get over this way more than 5 times a year. By 2002 I just couldn't stand living 4-5 hours away, so I started planning to relocate. In April 2003, the dream became reality and I picked up my life and moved it to Asheville. This site has grown tremendously in the number of visitors - especially in the last 3 years. That's a good thing since it probably means more people are getting outdoors to enjoy Nature's beauty and are looking for info on where to go and what to see. The only down side is I'm getting a lot more emails and am not able to answer all of the inquiries. I'm very sorry if I haven't responded to yours. Please remember that this is a one person operation. I also work a 10 hour swing shift job, and I would rather be out exploring and taking pictures than sitting in front of a computer. Use this site for your visual pleasure or as just one source of info for planning a trip to this area. This site is - and will always be - a work in progress. This area has given so much to me and this is my way of giving back. Come see us!
PLACES TO GO - This page has links to subsections where falls in the same area are grouped together. Try looking here if you're planning a trip to the area. You'll find photos and directions to the waterfalls, as well as ramblings about the areas and my adventures on various trips.
INDEX - If you would like to see a list of the falls on this site or if you are looking for a particular waterfall, go to the index. The falls are in alphabetical order and there's a link to the page that the information about the fall is on. There may be more than one falls on a page, so you may have to scroll down.
IMAGE GALLERIES - I wanted to create a section of my site where you can go and just look at pictures of this beautiful area. I've found the easiest way for me to present these images is to use PBase.com - an online service separate from my site. The pictures are larger than the ones posted here and include a wider variety of images that you won't find in this section of my site. Click the thumbnails in each gallery for a larger image. These photos are best viewed if your display is set to 1024 x 768. If you have to scroll to see the entire image, you can click 'medium' under each image to get a smaller view.
VIDEO - The video section has small clips of some of the falls. It would be helpful if you have high speed access, but it's not necessary. You will need lots 'o time if you are on dial-up.
WILDFLOWERS - As I began hiking more, I couldn't help but notice the beautiful wildflowers that grow along the trails and the roads that take me to the trail heads. So I took pictures of those also and have posted them in one of my PBase galleries.
PRINTS FOR SALE - Thank you for the fantastic response since I first began offering prints for sale! I have recently included a wider variety of sizes and products, including black and white prints, prints on metallic paper, Metal Prints, ThinWraps, and Giclée canvas prints and wraps. I also offer my images for license at a reasonable price. Please email me for details and a quote.
LINKS - The links section has links to other waterfall, mountain and hiking sites and also links to sites with info on camping, lodging and other activities in western North Carolina. If you have one you would like for me to add, please email me.
I realize there's a lot of info to sort through on this site, so I'm trying a Google search. Leave the button set to ncwaterfalls.com, type in your search words, click, and Google will search just within this site. Hope this helps - I may or may not keep this feature.
WARNING!!! Wet rocks are very slippery and people fall to their deaths from waterfalls every year! If you visit them, please be careful and use common sense! Do not climb rocks around the waterfalls and do not ever cross a stream or swim at the top of a waterfall. If you have children, watch them at all times. There are also many species of rare plants near some of these waterfalls, living in and near the spray areas of the falls. Please be very careful not to trample vegetation while exploring any falls!
"I can see my rainbow calling me through the misty breeze of my waterfall." - Jimi Hendrix
12-9-14 - Man, this year has really flown by! Cold weather is upon us once again and you should be especially careful near waterfalls when the previous night's temps have dipped below freezing. The spray zones near the waterfalls will freeze and coat the area with a thin layer of ice. Seepage areas along the trails can also freeze, so pay attention while hiking. If you are planning a full day out, it's best to bring more clothes than you think you will need. Dress in layers and maybe think about adding a pair of warm gloves and cap to your pack. Early morning and late afternoon can be very chilly in the shaded cove areas of many of the trails. Quite a few of the forest service roads in both the Pisgah and Nantahala NFs close for the winter at the first of January. I haven't found a list of which roads close, so have a plan B in mind if you find a road closed.
Deer hunting season runs through the end of the year. You should wear blaze orange if you plan on visiting any gameland areas of the national forests. You can pick up a vest or hat cheap at WalMart or other stores. Please check the ncwildlife.org site for a complete hunting schedule. The main ones you should be concerned with are bear and deer season in the fall and turkey season in the spring. You are probably safe in the most popular and visited areas of the forests, but why take a chance?? In the 2008 fall season, a man was shot and killed when hunters mistook him for a deer. There was also another accidental death in 2014 and numerous other non-fatal accidents over the years. The vast majority of hunters are careful and they have just as much right to be in the forests as hikers do.
I've been very busy the last couple of years and haven't updated the site as much as I would have liked, but hope to be retired in late 2015 and will spend more time offering up new goodies. If you have used my site to plan your vacation or find new places to explore and would like to show your appreciation for the time and effort I have put into these pages over the past 10+ years, you can offer a donation via PayPal below. Thank you to all that have contributed so far!
If you are new to the site, visiting my PBase galleries from time to time might give you ideas of other places to visit in the area. Some of the spots I visit and shoot don't have waterfalls, so the info isn't posted on my main site here. Most of the images in those galleries are from western North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and upstate South Carolina. The main gallery is here. Then click on any of the other galleries. If you are planning a visit to the area, click a previous year's gallery and find the dates you will be here and see what I was up to at that time. The pictures are in chronological order, so you'll have to click different pages to find the dates you need. I also have galleries for the wildflowers, mushrooms, and other things I have seen while out and about. The wildflower gallery is here and it may help you ID some of the species you see along the trails. I had started galleries for my 2011 and 2012 trips and adventures, but have been too busy to keep them updated. In 2010, I met a wonderful lady on a camping trip in Cades Cove. We were both on solo camping/photography trips, met in the campground and hit it off immediately. We have since married and have bought a house, so that's been keeping me very busy. That's us at Moore Cove Falls in the above picture :) My wife has recently started a blog of some of our hikes and adventures - North Carolina Trailing. Be sure to check it out to get her perspective on our adventures together!
The well known waterfall and nature photographer, author, and teacher Kevin Adams has released an instructional DVD on photographing waterfalls. The DVD also includes a section on post processing waterfall images, a slide show of 40 images with Kevin's approach to shooting them, and some outtakes moments during the shooting of the video. Just the scenery itself in the video is worth the price. The DVD is full of beautiful western North Carolina fall color and flowing water. I just watched it last night and picked up several new tips on both shooting and PP. Click here to go to the section of Kevin's site that tells more about the DVD.
9-30-14 - My friend Jordan Mitchell from WNCOutdoors.info has just released a waterfall app for Android. You can read about it and order it here. Plus, be sure to check out the rest of his web sites from the links on that page. He has extensive info on hiking, mountain biking, and waterfalls in the North Carolina mountains.
My hiking pal and finder of many new waterfalls Bernie Boyer has a great photo gallery with a lot of photos of his adventures in this area. You can check it out here.
I just updated my Prints for Sale page and have added a new product - ThinWraps. I have also made it much easier to see the print prices and have added satin finish Metal Prints.
There is now an excellent North Carolina waterfall map available for purchase! Kevin Adams (author of North Carolina Waterfalls - a Hiking and Photography Guide) teamed with Larry Odoski of Outdoor Paths Publishing to produce a beautiful map loaded with information on over 300 North Carolina waterfalls. It also includes the waterfalls on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Please click here to go to Kevin's site for more info on the map and to purchase your copy.
A new map of the Bartram Trail is now available for purchase. I just got mine today and highly recommend it. It's well done and offers a wealth of info for areas that I haven't had a chance to explore yet. It will be available for purchase at many forest service visitors centers and other area retailers July 2, or you can order it online from the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society.
I got an email from Jordan Mitchell saying Burt Kornegay has just released a new version of his Panthertown Valley Trail map. This map is a must have if you plan on hiking Panthertown. Order Burt's map here. My Panthertown Valley section is here.
Jordan Mitchell - the brains behind WNCOutdoors.info - has added another web site to his collection. NorthCarolinaWaterfalls.info has the map some of you guys have been bugging me about to do on this site. Check it out! It shows a lot of the waterfalls in western North Carolina on a virtual map with push pins. It should help you visualize where waterfalls are in relation to each other. Zoom in for more street and topo detail. Click the marker for more info on each falls with some links back to that particular waterfall on my site or Jordan's sites.
My friend Kimberli has an excellent blog about her and her husband's travels around North and South Carolina. Click here to visit - be sure to bookmark as she updates it regularly!
Part of what makes the mountains so special is the spectacular views from the taller mountains. Peter Barr has authored a book - Hiking North Carolina Lookout Towers - which highlights 26 towers that are accessible to the public. Peter is also director of the NC chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association, a group dedicated to the preservation of these towers. Check it out!!
All updates to the site are listed below so you can tell if anything has changed and if there is a link, it will take you right to the new stuff. I really appreciate all the nice emails I've received saying how much you enjoy the photos and info, or how the site brings back old memories of visiting or living in the mountains. This site has grown tremendously in the past year and unfortunately I don't have the time to respond to all of them. I do read them all and do the best I can. If someone would send me about a million $$$ I could probably quit my job and devote more time to updates and answering emails. Thanks for visiting!
Upper Catawba Falls
©1998-2014 All photos, images, videos, and ramblings are
copyrighted by Rich Stevenson unless otherwise noted. You may
download and print any of the content on this site if it
will help you in your search for waterfalls. You
may not reproduce any of this web site or use any of my pictures any where
else online or in print for any reason without my consent.
Many of the images on the site are available for license - please email me for more info. This site looks best at 1028x768 screen resolution in 32 bit color.
You can no longer link directly to my photos
from your web site or forum - this is bandwidth theft and
is illegal by the way!
11-3-14 - added The Narrows in the Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve in South Carolina
8-22-14 - added a hike in Panthertown Valley along Greenland Creek that includes Mac's, Pothole, Schoolhouse Falls and 2 unnamed waterfalls
6-22-14 - added a waterfall on Looking Glass Creek and another on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Woodfin Cascades overlook
4-15-14 - updated the Graveyard Fields section of my site
11-26-13 - added the waterfall on Long Branch in the Pisgah National Forest and a waterfall on Rockhouse Creek also in the Pisgah, right next to the road
11-17-13 - added Wildcat Falls to the site - this is the one off of the Flat Laurel Creek Trail near Hwy 215 and the Blue Ridge Parkway
8-14-13 - added another new waterfall near Lake Toxaway amd Balsam Grove - Bernie's Falls. This is an outstanding waterfall but should only be attempted by experienced outdoors folks.
5-5-13 - added 2 new waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest - waterfall on the Barnett Branch Trail and a waterfall on Slate Rock Creek
11-24-12 - added a video of Spruce Flats Falls to the bottom of the page - be sure to change the quality on the player for the best viewing
11-5-12 - updated the Gorges State Park and Horsepasture River pages with the latest info I have, and a video on my Whitewater Falls page
1-12-12 - updated the Raven Cliff Falls, SC page and also the Moore Cove Falls page
12-16-11 - updated the trail info on Moonshine Falls in South Carolina
1-7-11 - added the waterfall on Thorps Creek - I had been here back in 2008, but apparently neglected to add it to the site - duh
1-4-11 - added a waterfall on Phillips Branch in the Wilson Creek area
11-06-10 - added directions and new photos of Maidenhair Falls in Transylvania County
7-25-10 - added a new Tennessee waterfall - Wolf Creek Falls
7-18-10 - updated the info on Paradise Falls
7-12-10 - added a waterfall on Brooks Creek near Highlands
7-5-10 - Just updated the information for Secret Falls in Highlands, NC. There have been a lot of improvements to the trail since my last visit!
5-27-10 - I spent 3 glorious days in Cades Cove in the Smokies last week. Pictures begin on this page of my 2010 PBase gallery. They continue on the next 2 pages. I also just posted a video of some of the bears Cindy and I saw. The video can be seen here.
5-4-10 - added a new video of Rainbow Falls in SC to my video page
4-12-10 - added information about Rumbling Bald Mountain to my Chimney Rock State Park section.
4-9-10 - updated the Big Bradley page with directions to the base of the falls from Green River Cove Rd
2-26-10 - added a video of a waterfall on Rachael Creek in Pickens County, SC
2-15-10 - added 6 new waterfalls to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park section of my site - Fern Branch Falls, Hen Wallow Falls, Grotto Falls, Cataract Falls, Laurel Falls, and Spruce Flats Falls. I actually went to these waterfalls last year, but am now just adding them - sorry :(
2-2-10 - added a gallery with black and white prints for sale - more images will be added soon!
1-18-10 - added some info on a new trail to the top of Twin Falls in South Carolina
12-2-09 - recently added 3 new videos to my YouTube channel - Rainbow Falls, Whitewater Falls, and a waterfall on Sugar Creek
11-18-09 - I am now offering Metal Prints! Please click on my Prints for Sale page for more info.
11-16-09 - updated the Bearwallow Creek part of the Gorges State Park section of my site with new info and pictures. This includes directions to 6 named waterfalls - Indian Camp, Split Rock, Chute, Paw Paw, Lower Bearwallow, and Indian Camp Branch Falls - and pictures of several other waterfalls and cascades.
11-9-09 - I've finally begun rewriting my Gorges State Park section. I meant to do it back in May when the park reopened the Grassy Ridge Entrance, but I didn't - and I'm very sorry :( The new info is what is currently officially open and advertised, but there are a lot more waterfalls in there than most folks know about. I'm trying to decide just what and how to present this other information. I hope to add more in the next few weeks or at least before winter is over...
11-8-09 - posted a video of Sky Falls - unfortunately the only reasonable access is through private property, but that may change in the future. You can see the Vimeo version of the video here - or if you prefer YouTube, you can see that version here
9-24-09 - there is now a beautiful and detailed North Carolina waterfall map available for purchase - please click here for details
9-22-09 - updated the Douglas and Walker Falls page with new info and photos
9-19-09 - added a video of people jumping off of Elk Falls to my YouTube channel
9-11-09 - posted a video from last week end's hike at Table Rock Mountain (NC). It's from The Chimneys which is south of Table Rock on the Mountains to Seas Trail. Click here to see it.
8-30-09 - did a major update to the Prints for Sale section of the site
8-3-09 - update the information for the Devil's Elbow area of Panthertown Valley which includes Lichen Falls
7-30-09 - made a much needed update to my Dismal Falls page - included a new waterfall on Dismal Creek
7-29-09 - posted a video from the Dry Falls visit to both my Vimeo and YouTube accounts.
7-27-09 - updated the Dry Falls page
7-20-09 - just added a new video of Mouse Creek Falls and Midnight Hole to my YouTube channel. It's the one in the player and features some folks from Florida that I promised I'd get this video done as soon as I could - sorry it took me so long folks :(
7-12-09 - updated the page with Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades and the Upper and Lower waterfalls on Bubbling Spring Branch with info that actually makes sense.
7-8-09 - added a video and new pictures to the Sliding Rock page
5-31-09 - added this video of the ponies of Grayson Highlands - http://vimeo.com/4933450
5-26-09 - updated the Horsepasture River section with the new directions and trail information from Gorges State Park
3-10-09 - updated the Fall Creek, SC page with all 3 waterfalls we visited last May - better late than never I guess
2-21-09 - still experimenting with how I want to present videos - I created a new channel on Vimeo as a better way to show the videos as opposed to going to my home page on Vimeo. added a new video - still experimenting with format, quality, etc. The best quality on this one seems to be to leave HD on and don't do full screen. It's a large file, so slower connections may have problems viewing it.
1-24-09 - started a section of the site for the new Chimney Rock State Park. The 404' Hickory Nut Falls is a prominent feature in the park.
12-7-08 - added a new fall video to my Vimeo page - http://vimeo.com/2458569 - it's the 2nd half of this past fall season
12-1-08 - updated the Alarka Falls page
11-30-08 - updated the Dill Falls page with new info and pictures
11-15-08 - added a video of some fall color I saw in early to mid October - click here to see it - it's a 5 minute clip and a very large file. If you can't see it there, try here - http://vimeo.com/2256790
11-4-08 - added Part 3 of kayaking the Green River Narrows - all 3 of these are large files and may take a bit to download depending on your connection speed - click here to see it or here - http://vimeo.com/2270695
11-4-08 - added another video from the Green River - click here to see it - or here - http://vimeo.com/2269081
11-3-08 - added a video from the day after the Green River Narrows Race - click here to see it - or here - http://vimeo.com/2267445
10-09-08 - due to popular demand, I've begun a series of wildflower prints. Please click here for more info.
9-16-08 - added an Alarka Falls video
7-21-08 - added 2 fall color prints - Meytre Grist Mill in Valdese, NC and Chimney Rock with Lake Lure in the background
7-20-08 - added several new prints to the collection - Cedar Rock Falls, another Upper Catawba Falls, a secret waterfall, a waterfall on Fall Creek in SC, and one from The Narrows in Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve
7-19-08 - added 2 new videos from the Horsepasture River - sliding at Turtleback Falls and swimming at Stairway Falls
7-13-08 - added 4 new video clips
6-23-08 - made some big changes to the DuPont State Forest section and added Wintergreen Falls to the bunch -
6-19-08 - Just a little something before I head off to work. We came across this dancing dragonfly while on a recent hike, so I pulled out the camcorder and shot some video. I guess it's actually laying eggs. Click here to play the video - if you have a slow connection, hit the pause button until the video buffers. You'll need a Flash player installed to view this.
6-16-08 - updated the Soco Falls page - there is now a nice viewing deck and the waterfall can be considered kid friendly from this vantage point
6-9-08 - the North Harper Creek Falls page now has a much needed update - also added Chestnut Cove Branch Falls to that same page
6-1-08 - updated Raven Rock Falls info
5-26-07 - updated the Harper Creek Falls and South Harper Creek Falls pages with better directions and photos
4-7-08 - finally added the new Ranger Falls near Highlands
4-4-08 - added 2 new Flash videos - these are experimental, let me know what you think!
3-7-08 - added a new video from an off trail exploration of Wilson Creek in Oconee County, SC last week end
3-3-08 - added Jack's Cove Falls - I found this waterfall last year in the Moore Cove area of the Pisgah Forest. This one isn't on the map, but there's an unmarked trail that goes to it :)
1-26-08 - added 4 new video clips to this site and added a larger video to YouTube - let me know if you have any problems viewing it