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, mountain biking, camping, and horseback riding. Our western state parks offer most of the same activities and contain some of the lesser know hidden jewels. Be sure to check out Gorges State Park, Chimney Rock State Park, Grandfather Mountain State Park, Hanging Rock State Park, South Mountains State Park, and Lake James State park. And of course there's the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway - America's Favorite Drive. You'll experience beautiful vistas, wildflowers, amazing fall color, and of course - waterfalls! 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 beautiful 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 to the Asheville area.
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, but please remember that this is a one person operation. 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, and I'll do my best to keep it up to date.
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 - I have added a lot of videos to both my YouTube and Vimeo Channels over the past few years, but now am only adding to my YouTube channel. Become a subscriber to get notifications when I add new ones!
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.
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
11-2-22 I hope you made a trip to western NC this year to see the beautiful fall color display. Some say it's the best they've ever seen in this area. There's still a bit of late color to be had in the lower elevations, so call in sick and head up this way! I promise I won't tell. You could stay at the new family campground that just opened up in Gorges State Park. Click that link for more details. My wife and I stayed there on opening day and it's an excellent campground with 16 tent sites and 14 RV sites with full hook ups.
You no longer need a reservation to park in the Eagle Rock parking area of Chimney Rock State Park near Lake Lure. It's now on a first come basis. The parking lot is small, so get there early to be assured a spot.
Beginning May 2, 2022 Catawba Falls will be closed to the public for 9-12 months while crews work on building a series of boardwalks, staircases, and overlooks to improve visitor safety. This will also include a staircase to the beautiful upper waterfall that a lot of folks don't get to see. The area is expected to reopen in the spring of 2023. More info can be found on this page of the NC national forest web site.
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 this, please read below and consider joining or making a tax deductible donation to the non-profit I am now working with - Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina!
Late in 2020, I announced the launch of a new non-profit organization in western NC - Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina. The mission of the new organization is to promote and protect one of North Carolina's most valuable resources - it's waterfalls! Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina had been in the planning stages for more than a year before it's launch and was able to hit the ground running immediately after being announced to the public. North Carolina's own Kevin Adams serves as the executive director and is founder of the organization. As most of you know, Kevin is one of North Carolina's top experts on the state's waterfalls and is author of the well known NC waterfall guide book, North Carolina Waterfalls. Along with being a writer, Kevin is also a teacher, professional photographer, and naturalist. I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors with several other conservation minded individuals and will also be volunteering my time at many of the planned activities you can find on the web site. Be sure to also check out Waterfall Keepers Facebook page and Friends of Waterfall Keepers page for up to date news and announcements!
Waterfall visitation has exploded in the last 10 years. The pandemic of 2020/21 has brought even more people outdoors and some of our more popular waterfalls are suffering from over use. We all need to pitch in and help keep these areas as pristine as we can - for now and for future generations. If you would like to be involved with a community of waterfall lovers, please take some time and really explore the Waterfall Keepers of NC web site. We would be honored for you to join us on this journey. As of June 2021, we have 502 members, 206 waterfalls have been adopted by 272 volunteers who have already picked up over 2,100 gallons of trash! Waterfall Keepers has also adopted a stretch of NC215 north of the Blue Ridge Parkway for the Adopt-A-Highway program. Our first 2 cleanups were a huge success! Volunteers picked up over 1,000 gallons of trash, 11 tires, 1 TV, 1 toilet, 1 kidís ATV, and several other items too big to bag!
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 this, please join or make a tax deductible donation!
Back in April, Waterfall Keepers announced the Junior Waterfall Keepers program for the kids! To date, 132 kids have joined in the fun and are Junior Waterfall Keepers. The kids can earn badges and learn about conservation and life around our streams and waterfalls. All of the info you need can be found on the Junior Keepers section of the web site. I hope you will join in on the fun!
The Blue Ridge Parkway has done away with it's interactive closure map. They have replaced it with a chart showing which sections are open and closed. It looks like it's updated daily and should be more user friendly on a wider variety of devices. The link is here.
Effective immediately, you can no longer access Big Bradley Falls or the cliff area that has a partial view of the waterfall. This has nothing to do with the Covid-19 closures, but is because it's not a safe area and people keep dying here. The land is owned by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and you can find the info on their site here. I emailed to find out if you could access the falls from the trail that comes up the creek, but I haven't received a response. You should just assume that you are not allowed at the waterfall at all. I have no idea how long this closure will be in effect, so you'll have to keep checking on their web site.
My wife recently finished her 4th hiking guide book - Day Hiking The Mountains to Sea Trail. This book focuses on the sections of trail from Clingmans Dome to Mount Mitchell, but only the sections of trail that can reasonably done in a day by the average hiker. You can order this book and her other 3 from Amazon at this link.
The 3rd edition of Kevin Adams' North Carolina Waterfalls guide book is out and in many of the visitor centers and outdoor gear shops in the area. You can order the book directly from Kevin by clicking here. Kevin had more waterfalls in this book than I will ever have on this site, so you are missing out if you don't get a copy! The updated version of his excellent waterfall map is also out and is available for order. This map is essential in planning your waterfall vacation. You can order it directly from Kevin here or look for it at many of the outdoor shops and book stores in the area. Kevin has also been working a lot harder on his web site than I have and has an excellent North Carolina waterfalls section with a really nice interactive map that he is always updating. Click here to see it, then also be sure to click around on the rest of his site!
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 and more recently north Georgia. You can check it out here.
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 for the pictures. I have galleries for the wildflowers, mushrooms, birds, and other things I have seen while out and about, plus galleries from other national parks and areas I have visited.
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. Thanks for visiting!
Upper Catawba Falls
©1998-2023 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.
6-11-22 - wow, an update! I revisited Hickory Branch Falls and added the upper waterfall
8-31-21 - updated the Pisgah Ranger District page with updates on closures from tropical storm Fred
8-31-21 - updated the Skinny Dip Falls page with new info about the destruction after tropical storm Fred
5-18-21 - updates Dargans Cascade - now known as Silver Steps Falls - page with new trail info
10-21-20 - updated the info on Virginia Hawkins Falls in SC and added a video to my YouTube channel
9-12-20 - added a video of some of the falling water you can see on the Cove Creek / Caney Bottom Loop Trail
8-28-20 - updated the Cove Creek Falls and Caney Bottom Falls page
8-25-20 - updated the High Falls on the Thompson River page
8-15-20 - finally added Maxie Duke Falls and Sparkle Falls to the Sids Falls page of my site
8-8-20 - updated the Long Branch Falls page
7-31-20 - Apparently there's a new trail to Hooker Falls. I haven't been to check it out and won't go any time soon because of the crazy number of people that visit here. I did find info online, so have changed the Hooker Falls page to reflect what I have found.
1-18-20 - added Lower Higgins Creek Falls video to my YouTube channel.
1-18-20 - added a new waterfall in Tennessee - Lower Higgins Creek Falls
12-6-19 - added Drip Falls in the Norman Wilder Forest in Polk County
11-19-19 - updated trail info for Reese Place Falls in Headwaters State Forest
8-27-19 - added a new video of Upper Bearwallow Falls to my YouTube channel and to the Upper Bearwallow Falls page on my site along with new photos from the falls
7-16-19 - updated the Big Laurel Falls and Mooney Falls page
7-1-19 - added a video of Glen Falls to my YouTube channel - also updated my Rufus Morgan Falls page
6-30-19 - updated my way out of date and poorly written Glen Falls page with new info, photos, and video
6-29-19 - updated info and directions to Bernies Falls and added a video to my YouTube channel
6-18-19 - updated the Falls Branch Falls, TN page with new info, photos, and video
6-9-19 - finally - a new waterfall! added Yellow Creek Falls near Robbinsville to the site
6-9-19 - I upgraded my camera to a Sony a6400 a few months ago and am now shooting video in 4K! Visit and subscribe to my YouTube Channel to see the latest videos.
2-2-19 - updated the info on Pinnacle Falls SC which is now being called Beech Bottom Falls
1-29-19 - added Hidden Falls in Oconee State Park, SC
11-14-18 - added Reedy Branch Falls in SC and also added a video to my YouTube channel that includes this waterfall, Ramsey Creek Falls, and Riley Moore Falls
11-12-18 - added Ramsey Creek Falls and Riley Moore Falls - both in Oconee County, SC
10-26-18 - added info and pictures on the new parking area and hike to Eagle Rock and The Tunnel in Chimney Rock SP
10-16-18 - added a second way to get to Reece Place Falls in Headwaters SF
9-24-18 - added the hike to Bursted Rock in Headwaters SF
9-21-18 - did some more exploring in Headwaters SF today and found a nice loop hike which includes Graveley Falls
9-19-18 - added some hiking options in Headwaters SF from the Glady Fork Rd access areas
9-12-18 - I've added several new videos to my YouTube channel
9-11-18 - added Reece Place Falls to the Headwaters State Forest page
9-9-18 - added Graveley Falls in Headwaters State Forest
9-6-18 - added East Fork Falls in Headwaters State Forest
8-31-18 - updated directions to Lower Bearwallow Falls in Gorges State Park and added a video from out June 2018 visit to Bearwallow Creek
8-26-18 - added a video of Aunt Sallys, Lower Rhapsodie, and Rhapsodie Falls to my YouTube channel and to the Dismal Falls page below
8-25-18 - updated the trail info up to Rhapsodie Falls, but still need to go back and revisit Dismal Falls
8-14-18 - added info about the hike past Little Bearwallow Falls up to Wildcat Rock and Little Bearwallow Mountain
8-12-18 - added a video and new photos to the Douglas Falls page
8-11-18 - added a video and new photos of Roaring Fork and Setrock Creek Falls -