Update 6-1-10 Andrew Shelley of Wake County, NC died this past week end when he fell from the top of this waterfall. Witnesses say he may have ventured too close to the edge. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends. Others have died or have been seriously injured in the past. This is another sad reminder for you to stay away from the tops of waterfalls despite what you might see other people doing!
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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