Listing the five best North Carolina waterfalls is an invitation to a heated discussion, if not a full-fledged argument. Let’s just call this a list of five favorites instead. Visit NC.com and NCwaterfalls.com
Whitewater Falls: Start with a biggie. Upper Whitewater Falls near Cashiers drops 411 feet and is the highest falls east of the Rocky Mountains. The fun continues with Lower Whitewater Falls just across the South Carolina line that drops another 400 feet before entering Lake Toxaway. They are twin jewels of the Jocassee Gorges area. Burn off some calories by hiking to the Whitewater River below the falls and back up again.
Dry Falls: This one is special because a trail leads behind the waterfall for a perspective kids really enjoy – adults, too. If the water is up, be prepared for the spray – or bring a raincoat. It is on U.S. 64 just west of Highlands.
Bridal Veil Falls: This is one of several watery gems in DuPont State Recreational Forest between Brevard and Hendersonville. It’s a 120-foot cascade down a long granite slope, and if the water level is just right, you can walk behind a 10-foot-tall section toward the top. Seeing Bridal Veil Falls requires a moderate 4.4-mile roundtrip walk, but the reward is great. There are more than 80 more miles of trails in this 10,000-acre forest.
Glen Falls: Glen Falls, located off NC Highway 106 south of Highlands, is a triple-whammy. It is in three sections – a 70-foot drop first, then a 60-foot drop, and finally a 15-footer. A well-constructed trail leads to three viewing platforms and close-up views of the rushing waters. There are particularly good views in winter when the trees are bare.
Rainbow Falls: This one earns its name almost every sunny day. A strenuous hike takes you to a 125-foot-tall waterfall on the Horsepasture River and, almost certainly, a rainbow. Get your trail directions at the visitor center of Gorges State Park, a recent addition to North Carolina’s system. Turtleback Falls, also on the Horsepasture River, is nearby. Both are in Transylvania County west of Brevard.