Update 7-20-16 Another person died jumping from this waterfall this past week end. Jacques Downing jumped on Saturday and never resurfaced. Recovery teams didn't find his body until the next day. The same thing happened to Sheida Hosseinzadeh last year and others have died before them. Jumping from the higher points on this waterfall or any waterfall is not safe and never will be. Please read the article here for more info. Will you be the next person to die?
Elk Falls is beautiful 50' high waterfall near Elk Park in the Toecane Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest. It's also a very popular swimming hole in the summer months and a popular place for people who for some reason fell the need to jump off of a waterfall. In the above image you can see people in the middle of the picture preparing to jump from that side, but people also jump from the right side of the falls. On my last visit in 2009, I shot video of people jumping and have posted it here. Watch, then determine whether your life is worth the risk.
Directions: From the intersection of NC194 and US19E near Elk Park, drive 0.7 miles west on 19E and turn right down a hill, then immediately turn left on SR1303 - Old Mill Rd. This turn is easy to miss. Proceed another 0.3 mile and turn right on Elk River Rd. Continue on Elk River Rd for 4 miles into the Pisgah Forest where the road ends at the parking area. Parking is limited and you may have a hard time finding a place mid day on a summer week end. Unfortunately, popularity leads to the 2 legged pigs leaving their trash and cigarette butts all over the place and Elk Falls is not exempt from the trashing.
The trail to the top of the falls is fairly short and easy. There is a nice area of flat rock near the top that allows you to safely venture out without being too close to the top. There's also a big rock at the top you can get on for a better view which is where I shot stills and video from. Do not swim in the river near the top of the falls. The current could sweep you over the falls and to your death. The trail to the base is a little steeper, so please be careful. There's an area of rock where people hang out and a fairly safe area below this where people also swim.
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