Chasing Waterfalls

Chasing waterfalls takes a bit of planning. Depending on the area you are traveling waterfalls could be rather close together as they feed off the same bodies of water or they could be much further apart. To best plan a trip there are a few things you need to do before you head out on the road.

  1. Make a list of all the waterfalls in the area. This helps keep you focused on one area and not running all over the place.
  2. After you have made your list you look up the waterfalls and see what type of trail you will be heading into. Some waterfalls may literally be roadside, some may require a short walk, and others may require some type of hike. This is an important step. Depending on the amount of time you have and the level of hiking you are capable of tackling will help narrow down your list to something that will be achievable.
  3. Once you have the list of waterfalls you would like to visit, head over to Google maps and start entering your destinations into the system. As you are entering them switch the order around till you have have created good path that will make the most of your time and not have you driving in circles.
  4. Before heading out you will need to pack up the necessary equipment so you will be prepared when you hit the trail.
  5. Finally, enjoy yourself! Make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy the waterfalls and all that is around you and don't rush the experience.

My husband and I did a waterfall trip for our anniversary at the end of April. I thought I would share my trip with you.

On our trip we actually had about 12 waterfalls on our list, but we decided to narrow it down a bit to only 9. We had our 1 year old pup, Rey, with us and she hasn't done but one other big trip and we didn't want to totally wear here out. Plus, we wanted to give ourselves a more relaxing pace and have time to enjoy the small towns we would be around and passing through. We stretched the 9 waterfalls over 3 days, plus we saw a few other historic places too. Here are the places we visited and in the order we did them.

Silver Run Falls

This was our first stop on our self made waterfall trail. It is a 25 foot waterfall in Jackson County, NC and is just down the road from Cashiers. The water cascades over a rock face into a pool at the bottom.

Silver Run in the Summer

In the summer this is a popular place for families. Kids and parents alike can be found splashing around in the pool that surrounds the base of the falls.

Make Sure to Look Down

Want to know why the falls have the name that it does? All you have to do is look down in the water! You will finds specs and even pools of mica! When the sun is shining down the flecks of mica shine reflecting the light.

Upper Whitewater Falls

This waterfall is divided into the upper and lower falls! An interesting fact is that the upper section is in North Carolina and the Lower section is in South Carolina. When going to the Upper section you still have to enter South Carolina and then come back to North Carolina to get there. To reach the falls it is roughly a half-mile walk that will take you to a set of steps that lead down to viewing platforms. The waterfall is surrounded by the Nantahala Forest making the platforms the only way to view the falls.

It is Tall!

Upper Whitewater Falls is said to be the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies. The falls stand at 411 feet! There are many that dispute the claims of this waterfall being the tallest, but there is no disputing its beauty.

Chattooga River

Technically more of a cascade than a waterfall. I decided to include it here because it was an incredible surprise to find it. It had been raining off and on for a few days so the amount of was enormous. Not sure what the normal flow would be like, but I can't imagine that it would be all that minimal and would still create a beautiful scene.

Old Iron Bridge

This old bridge was the scene that brought me to this location. I have a fascination with old structures whether it be a building or a bridge. This is a historic bridge that straddles the Jackson and Macon County lines and just happens to be over the Chattooga River that creates the beautiful cascades.

The bridge is located on Bull Pen Road just outside of the highlands. Just a fair warning you will traverse both paved and unpaved roads to reach this location.

The view

The view from the top of the bridge is breath taking and add in the sound of the water rushing over and around the rocks it is just incredible. Even though this isn't a technical waterfall it is worth visiting. If you are sure footed enough you can climb down to the river level along a set of rock steps. I didn't make the trip down because I didn't have shoes on that had the appropriate tread. My husband and pup did visit the bottom and my pup hurt her leg when her paw slipped. So, be careful as a human and even more careful with your pups.

Cullasaja Falls

This waterfall is stunning. Fair warning though if you want to reach the bottom of the falls it is a difficult trek. The path down is an unofficial trail that is extremely steep and slippery and most certainly not for the faint hearted. There is a pull out for just a few cars along the road side in which you can view the falls. During the spring and summer months it will be difficult to see as the trees will be in full bloom.

Falls Viewing

Once you park you can walk just a few feet and cross to the other side of the guard rail and climb to the top of a small boulder. From here you can get a much better view of the falls and from several different angles. This is also the location of the unofficial trail. If interested in taking the trail to the bottom checkout what folks have to say at AllTrails (my favorite app for hiking).

The waterfall is located along NC-28/US-64 Highlands Road. The parking area is easy to miss.

Bust your Butt Falls

Loved visiting this little falls! It is also known as Quarry Falls. It is a 20 foot cascade that is said to be good for sliding down just like a water slide. By the looks of things it would be a painful slide down (maybe one reason it got its name). There is a pool at the base of the falls that is perfect for the summer time heat to cool off. From the research I have done it is a very popular swimming hole for families. Some folks have been seen jumping from the rocks into the pool at the bottom. I would not recommend jumping into the pool as death have occurred here and we don't want to increase that number. Should you decide to swim, do so safely and watch the kiddos!

Not Into Swimming

Even if you don't want to take a dip into the cool waters to escape the heat there are plenty of rocks to sit on and just enjoy the view and sound of the water falling over the large boulders. It would be a perfect place for a picnic.

It is located on the Cullasaja River along U.S. Highway 64 between Franklin and the Highlands. There is a small roadside pull off to reach the short path to the falls.

Dry Falls

This waterfall is anything but dry! It doesn't matter if there has been a recent rain fall or not the water is always abundant. The waterfall drops 80 feet with 40 feet being free fall. The trail to the falls is paved all the way down using some steps.

You Can Walk Behind

One of the things I love about this water fall is that you can walk behind it via a recessed ledge. In case you are wondering if you will get wet; the answer is maybe a little. depending how close to the fence you walk you will get splattered by the falling water. But, you won't get soaked! The path behind the falls leads you around to the other side for a different view. This portion is not paved and can be slick, so, please watch your footing on any of the rocks.

For your safety don't cross over the fence that surrounds the waterfall. The rocks and greenery are slick and could cause one to fall. While I was there this visit my husband I watched a young man and a female cross the fence to talk selfies and in the process of getting back over the fence both slipped and someone actually grabbed the hand of the female to keep her from falling. So, PLEASE DON'T CROSS THE FENCE.

Reaching the Falls

The waterfall is located roadside approximately 2 miles west of the Highlands on Highway 64. There is a good size parking lot. Please note the parking lot fills very quickly during peak season. Also, there is a fee of $3 for parking. This is on the honor system. You complete the information on an envelope in which put your monies in and then place it in the fee box located just as you enter the lot. Park passes can be purchased online to be used throughout the Great Smoky Mountains.

Bridal Veil Falls

This waterfall is located not to far from Dry Falls. While the amount of water isn't all that impressive it is worth the trip if you're in the area. It is 120 feet tall! The history around the falls is that you could once drive behind it! How cool is that! Could you imagine being able to drive behind a waterfall? Now, we just have to settle for being able to walk behind it and around it.

No Pool Here

This roadside waterfall doesn't have a pool at the bottom like so many do. The water crashes down on the rocks below in front of the paved drive through. Even though there is no big splash into a pool of water the rocks make for a completely cool look.

Finding It

This is probably the easiest water fall to find. It is 2 miles away from Dry Falls along Highway 64. You can't miss it as it is literally roadside. There is a pull off just before the falls and again just after. Watch for pedestrians walking around trying to get the best view and taking photos and selfies.

Cashiers Sliding Rock

Don't confuse this one with Sliding Rock Natural Waterslide just outside of Asheville; this Sliding Rock is located in Cashiers. This is a great swimming hole during the summer. Some are even brave enough to slide down the face of the falls hoping to avoid the large potholes along the way. It is a beautiful location and in June and July you can find the rhododendrons in bloom. If you aren't wanting to slide down the rock or even get in the water there is some space along the beach area that you can sit and relax a spell.

There's More

The trail leading to the falls is an easy one. You can elect to to go to the right or left at the intersection. If you go to the left you will come to a set of small cascades that lead to the main falls. When you are done there continue along the trail to reach the beach just below the main falls. If you go to the right you reach the falls first and the small cascades next if you continue along the loop.

The falls are located on the Chattooga River off Whiteside Cove Road. There is a pull off close to the bridge for parking. When parking be considerate of others to allow more parking spaces.

Sequoyah Dam falls

Sequoyah is located completely roadside making it easy to view. I'm sure if you wanted you could find a unofficial path that would lead to the bottom. The falls is man made via a dam built on Lake Sequoyah and is about 20 feet tall. While the falls are man made nature provided the rocks at the bottom and sides that make for a pleasant sight and a beautiful sound.


The waterfall is also known as Kalakaleskies Falls. Sequoyah Dam Falls is located about 5 minutes from the Highlands on US 64. There is a large parking area at the edge of the lake and right beside the falls.