Courthouse Falls
Courthouse Falls

The Pisgah Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest is home to numerous beautiful waterfalls and has miles of hiking trails to explore. If you are coming to North Carolina to visit waterfalls for the 1st time, this would be an excellent area to start in. Some of the trails are multiple use - hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding - and I would highly suggest stopping at the Visitor's Center and buying a trail map if you are not familiar with the area. It's about 1.5 miles up Hwy 276, north of the 280/276/64 intersection in Brevard and has lots of other info about the area, books, postcards, and rest rooms - their phone # is 828-877-3350. For more detailed info on other activities in the forest, click here and visit the Pisgah section of 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.

My wife, Cindy Lemon, has just published the first in what will be a series of books (both ebook and paperback) describing various day hikes in the Southern Appalachian mountains.  The first book - Southern Appalachian Day Hikes, Pisgah Ranger District - can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Lulu (the link to her Amazon book is here).  The book includes family friendly waterfall hikes, and other hikes not on my site including hikes with views, wildflowers, and other goodies. Be looking for the second edition - Blue Ridge Parkway Edition - sometime late this year or early 2016

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 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 tried to arrange the waterfalls in a way that might make it easier for you to plan a trip if you have never been to this area. Some of the sections are really close to one another, so that's why one of those trail maps will be really handy. It also has main roads, forest roads and other helpful info. These 1st waterfalls are accessed from Hwy 276.

Twin Falls on Henry Branch - these are off of FR477 which turns off Hwy 276 north of the visitor's center - very nice hike but a lot of fallen timber in the falls - this area is also good for spring wildflowers in April

waterfall on Avery Creek - you can see this waterfall along the hike to Twin Falls, but this will take you a different way. easy hike and mostly kid friendly

waterfall on Clawhammer Creek - also off of FR477 - the waterfall isn't very impressive, but the 2 mile round trip hike is nice.

Looking Glass Falls - perhaps the most photographed falls in the area - it's right next to the road and handicap viewable.

Moore Cove Falls - just up the road from Looking Glass - easy hike and family and kid friendly - there is now a new viewing deck for the waterfall, but you can still walk behind the waterfall

Jack's Cove Falls - accessed from the same parking as Moore Cove Falls. I made this name up and the trail is not on the map, so if you ask about this one at the Visitor's Center, they may look at you as if you have lost your mind. Update - last time I was at Moore Cove, there was a trail closed sign for the trail to Jack's Cove.

Sliding Rock - a natural water slide area off 276 set up by the US Forest Service - kid friendly - a fee is required during the summer months, but not in the off season

waterfalls on Looking Glass Creek right next to the road just before FR475B - there are several along a 2 mile stretch

waterfall on Log Hollow Branch - off FR475B near the Cradle of Forestry off 276 - there are 4 waterfalls at this stop -  2 are kid friendly and an easy hike


The next 4 waterfalls are off of FR1206 - Yellow Gap Road - which is off of Hwy 276 past the Pink Beds picnic and hiking area

waterfall on the Barnett Branch Trail - easy and kid friendly

High Falls - not very high actually - more for the adventurous type

waterfall on Billy Branch - a short detour off the trail to High Falls

waterfall on Slate Rock Creek - fairly easy and kid friendly


This next group of falls is accessed from FR475. Drive 5.2 miles up Hwy 276 north from the 276/280/64 intersection and turn left towards the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Conservation. Mileages are from the turn at Hwy 276. The pavement used to end at the Pisgah Center, but now extends on to Cove Creek Group Campground.

0.4 miles - No waterfall here, but on the right is the parking area for the trail up to the top of Looking Glass Rock.

1.4 miles - The Pisgah Center and fish hatchery is on the left and there is a large parking area and access to several trail heads. Park here for -

2 waterfalls on Cedar Rock Creek and a falls on Grogan Creek - these are smaller waterfalls, but the hike is easy to moderate and family friendly.

1.5 miles - bear right up FR475B to get to Slick Rock Falls - kid friendly. You can also access the waterfalls near Log Hollow from this side of FR475B

2.1 miles - a small waterfall on Rockhouse Creek - viewable roadside, but you'll want to pull off and go down for a closer look - kid friendly.

3.2 miles - Cove Creek Falls and Caney Bottom Creek Falls and Cove Creek Group Campground. Park on the left - easy to moderate hike

3.9 miles - Parking for Daniel Ridge Falls is on the right - aka Toms Spring Falls and Jackson Falls. The hike to this 100' waterfall is easy and kid friendly

The Daniel Ridge Loop Trail, near Daniel Ridge Falls, is a nice hike and has some smaller falls along the way.

4.2 miles - access to the waterfall on Long Branch via FR5095 - you can also get to this waterfall via the trails to Cedar Rock and Grogan Creek Falls - fairly easy hike with a steep scramble up to see the falls.

6 miles - Gloucester Gap - turn left on FR471 to get to Catheys Creek Falls (or you can access it from Hwy 64 west of Brevard). Turning right on FR229 used to be the access road for the parking for Shuck Ridge Creek Falls, but this road has bee gated for several years and might never reopen. This waterfall can also be accessed via the Farlow Gap Trail from the Daniel Ridge area.


These next waterfalls are in the Hwy 215 area near the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you look at your map you'll see that you can head up Hwy 276 north, get on the Blue Ridge Parkway south (closed in the winter months), and get off on Hwy 215 to combine waterfalls of both areas. You'll pass Graveyard Fields on the Parkway before Hwy 215.

waterfalls at Living Waters Ministry - French Broad, Shoal Creek, and Cathedral (Bird Rock) Falls - This is actually private property, but the kind folks at Living Waters share the beauty of these waterfalls with the public - family friendly.

Falls on Double Branch - one of the lesser known falls

Courthouse and Upper Courthouse Falls - off of Hwy 215, 6.5 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway, then up FR140

Red Rock Falls - also on Courthouse Creek, up FR140

Falls and cascades on Mill Station Creek - park at same place for Upper Courthouse Falls

Chestnut Falls - also off of FR140, on the way up to Courthouse Falls

Kiesee Falls - also off of FR140, on the way up to Courthouse Falls - there are actually 2 waterfalls here

Dill Falls - Hwy 215 is the border between the Pisgah and Nantahala Natonal Forests. Dill Falls is actually in the Nantahala, but you will pass the left turn that leads to the parking on the way to the Parkway from FR140 up 215 north.

Flat Laurel Creek Falls and Cascades - accessed from the parking at the end of Black Balsam Rd near Graveyard Fields off of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Wildcat Falls - also off of the Flat Laurel Creek Trail - kid friendly

Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades and the Upper and Lower waterfalls on Bubbling Spring Branch - north of the Parkway on Hwy 215. The first is roadside viewable, but you can go down for a closer look. The other 2 are a short hike, but part on trail, part off trail. No small kids, but bigger kids maybe OK.

Lower Wildcat Falls - just 0.1 miles from Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades, but requires a short bushwhack to get close - roadside viewable in the winter

Falls on Sam Branch, Wash Hollow, and the West Fork of the Pigeon River (aka Sunburst Falls) - the 1st 2 are not well known, but easy to get to and quite gorgeous, the latter is right next to the road.

Little Bird Falls - easy to get to, but parking is tricky

Graveyard Fields - a very popular area off the Blue Ridge Parkway, north of Hwy 215. Second Falls is easy to get to and kid friendly - the others are a bit more difficult.

Skinny Dip Falls - right off the Blue Ridge Parkway near graveyard Fields - kid friendly, but very crowded in the summer


The last group are at other locations in the forest -

waterfalls of the Horsepasture River - Drift, Turtleback, Rainbow, Stairway and others - This area in the Jocassee Gorges was previously in the Nantahala National Forest but has been transferred to the Pisgah. Parking is actually in Gorges State Park which is in the Lake Toxaway/Sapphire area.

waterfalls of the Thompson River area - White Owl, Twin, Slippery Witch, High, Big Falls - This area in the Jocassee Gorges was also previously in the Nantahala National Forest but has been transferred to the Pisgah. It's a wild area with a mix of easy to get to waterfalls and falls only for serious adventure seekers.

Catheys Creek Falls - off of Hwy 64, west of Brevard

Barbara Falls - aka Upper Shoals or Grace Falls - also on Catheys Creek

Dismal and Rhapsodie Falls - off of 281 north of Lake Toxaway

Stillhouse Falls - also off of 281 north of Lake Toxaway

Laughing Falls - near the intersection of Hwys 280, 276 north, and 64 - not really worth it


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