The Nantahala National Forest covers over 530,000 acres in the far western section of North Carolina. Parts if it border the Pisgah National Forest on the east side. At least part of Hwy 215 is a border between the 2 forests. The Blue Ridge Parkway towards Cherokee acts an another boundary, then Smoky Mountain NP to the north, Tennessee to the west and Georgia and South Carolina to the south. The Native American word Nantahala means 'land of the midday sun'. It's an appropriate name since the deep tree lined gorges and valleys are only lit during the middle of the day.
Click here for the official web site for the North Carolina national forests which will include info about Nantahala. There is a ton of info here if you dig deep enough including other recreational activites in the forests. When I talk about roads that start with FR, this indicates a forest road and will probably be gravel. Most of these are narrow and you should drive slow! No telling if another vehicle might be coming around the next bend. Also, forest roads are subject to temporary closings - especially in the winter - so call ahead during business hours or have a Plan B just in case. This is by no means a complete listing of all the waterfalls. It's only the ones I've been to so far. I still haven't been to the Fontana Lake area, or Robbinsville, Wesser areas.
It is very important that you are aware that hunting is allowed in the national forests at certain times of the year. You should wear blaze orange during these times!! You can pick up a vest 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. The vast majority of hunters are careful and they have just as much right to be in the forests as hikers do.
Click here for a listing of proposed actions for 2010 in the NC national forests. Scoll down a couple of pages for locations and phone numbers for the various ranger offices.
Alarka Falls - moderate to difficult access - beautiful, but not kid friendly
Big Laurel and Mooney Falls - Standing Indian area - one roadside, the other a fairly easy to maybe moderate hike
Bridal Veil Falls - You can drive behind this waterfall! Easy access, wheelchair accessible and kid friendly
waterfall on Brooks Creek - near Picklesimer Rock House Falls, roadside viewable with short path to the base
Bull Cove and High Falls - moderate to difficult hike
waterfall on Chastine Creek - roadside, but steep scramble down for a view
Cullasaja Falls - roadside view, but in a very dangerous section of Hwy 64 between Highlands and Franklin
Dill Falls, Upper Dill Falls - easy hike and really nice waterfall that's not visited often. Down Hwy 215 south of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Dry Falls - kid friendly, easy access, and now has a wheelchair accessible area with an excellent view of the waterfall. An easy walk down some steps leads to a closer view and a trail behind the waterfall. This one is a must see.
Flat Creek Falls - difficult
waterfall on Fowler Creek
Glen Falls - beautiful falls in the Highlands area - moderate hike to 2 different sections of the waterfall. Watch kids closely here - people have climbed over the railing above the falls and have fallen to their deaths. Please don't be the next.
waterfalls on Middle Creek - out of the way - moderate hike, not really kid friendly unless they are adventurous and will listen when you say 'don't go over there or you will fall off and die'.
Nellie's Falls - same parking as Flat Creek Falls, but much easier to get to.
Panthertown Valley - Schoolhouse, Granny Burrell, Frolictown, Greenland Creek Falls and more. This is an amazing area between Cashiers and Lake Toxaway
Picklesimer Rock House Falls - easy hike to free falling waterfall similar to Moore Cove Falls. Not often visited - best seen after a good rain.
Ranger Falls - newer trail to a pretty nice waterfall west of Highlands
Rough Butt Falls - moderate to difficult
Rufus Morgan Falls - moderate hike in the Franklin area
waterfalls on Scotsman Creek - Chattooga River area near Bull Pen Bridge south of Cashiers off Hwy 107
Secret Falls - the trail to this 50' waterfall has been improved and is now easier to follow - put this on your 'must see' list if you are in the Highlands area - bigger kid friendly
Silver Slip Falls - might not be accessible any more
Silver Run Falls - easy, popular - south of Cashiers on Hwy 107
Upper Buck Creek Falls - moderate to difficult - not for your average tourist
Whitewater Falls - 411' high - kid friendly - paved uphill path to the upper overlook - many steps down to the lower viewing area