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The 15 Best Waterfalls in Brevard, NC + Trail Info and Parking

Find parking, trail information, and details about Brevard's best waterfalls.

By Jason Barnette | Travel writer and photographer with 15+ years of road tripping experience

Located on these road trip routes:

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here.

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Transylvania County is colloquially called the “Land of Waterfalls.” There are over 250 waterfalls within 20 miles of Brevard, the county seat, making it the perfect place to stay while chasing waterfalls. But before you plan the weekend getaway, you need to know a few things about the waterfalls.

Brevard is a hub for outdoor recreation in western North Carolina. It’s between Pisgah National Forest and Nantahala National Forest, about half an hour from the Blue Ridge Parkway, surrounded by state parks and recreation areas.

It’s also a foodie town. More than a dozen great local restaurants, coffee shops, and dessert shops fill you up after hiking in the mountains.

Although Brevard is surrounded by waterfalls, not all are worth visiting. These are the best waterfalls in Brevard to visit. And I’ve got all the details about where to park, hiking trail distances, and difficulty ratings.

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Map of Best Waterfalls in Brevard

How to use this map | Click the icon in the top-left corner to open the Map Legend, then click on any of the legend items to display more information. If you have a Google account, click the (very faint) star at the end of the map’s name to save this map to your account, then access the map from your smartphone during your trip.

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Brevard, NC

Getting to Brevard, NC

Brevard is a small town in western North Carolina. Fewer than 10,000 people call the town home, but the population swells with visitors during the summer. Brevard is one of the best hub towns for outdoor recreation in Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Interestingly, getting to Brevard is not straightforward. Despite its popularity as a tourist destination, visitors must choose between a two-lane highway through several small towns or an indirect four-lane highway.

Here are your options for getting to Brevard and my recommended route.

Hendersonville. The most direct route to Brevard begins at Exit 49 on Interstate 26 in Hendersonville. U.S. Highway 64 passes along the edge of downtown. After leaving Hendersonville, the road passes through a few small towns with traffic lights and light congestion. The 22-mile route takes about 40-60 minutes but can take much more in the summer.

Upward Road. If traveling northbound on Interstate 26, take Exit 53 onto Upward Road. The route passes along the edge of downtown Hendersonville and connects with U.S. Highway 64. The 23-mile route takes about 40-60 minutes.

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Airport Road. The quirky thing about getting to Brevard is that the longest route is usually the fastest. Exit 40 on Interstate 26 passes Asheville Regional Airport. It’s a four-lane highway through Mills River to Brevard that limits congestion.

If you’re traveling southbound on I-26, it’s a 19-mile route that takes about 30 minutes. If you’re traveling northbound, it’s a 29-mile route that takes about 35 minutes. This is still the fastest route, even after passing Hendersonville and driving an additional 9 miles on the interstate.

And it’s my preferred route.

Waynesville. If you’re ready for an adventurous drive, take U.S. Highway 276 from Waynesville. The road includes a series of twists and turns as it ascends the Blue Ridge Mountains. It crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway and descends through one of the most gorgeous routes in North Carolina. This 53-mile route takes about 60-90 minutes to travel.

Blue Ridge Parkway. At about halfway between Asheville and Cherokee, the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses over U.S. Highway 276. It’s an opportunity to leave the parkway and spend the night in Brevard. The 19-mile drive takes about 30-45 minutes, and it’s one of the most beautiful drives in North Carolina.

Greenville, South Carolina. One of the most scenic routes into Brevard is the longest, but it’s worth the drive if you’re starting in South Carolina. From Greenville, U.S. Highway 276 passes through Traveler’s Rest – a hidden foodie town in the state’s Upcountry – before reaching the foothills of the mountains. The drive across Cedar Mountain offers several spectacular scenic overlooks for a quick stop. The 47-mile route on the two-lane road takes about 1.5 hours, though it can take longer during summer and autumn days.

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Places to See Waterfalls

Transylvania County is colloquially known as the “Land of Waterfalls.” There are over 250 waterfalls within about 20 miles of Brevard, the county seat. Most waterfalls are on private property or merely trickles most of the year.

But nearly 50 waterfalls are accessible to public hiking trails.

There are no waterfalls in the town of Brevard. Instead, the waterfalls are spread around the town in Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Recreational Forest, and Gorges State Park. Here’s a summary of the places to see waterfalls in Brevard.

Pisgah National Forest

The 500,000-acre Pisgah National Forest boasts some of the best outdoor recreation and scenic drives in North Carolina. Northwest of Asheville, the national forest includes iconic destinations like Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi.

Near Brevard, Pisgah National Forest includes the scenic route along U.S. Highway 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway – the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway. All the waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest are connected by this route.

DuPont State Recreational Forest

Since the first hiking trail opened in 2000, DuPont State Recreational Forest has become one of the most visited places in western North Carolina. Five of the most impressive waterfalls are scattered throughout the 10,000-acre recreational area. Most trails are moderately easy, and restrooms are available at most trailheads.

Gorges State Park

The 7,500-acre Gorge State Park is the westernmost state park in North Carolina. Locally, it’s known as “Gorgeous State Park” because of the stunning scenery and hiking trails. Three waterfalls are in the state park. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Brevard along U.S. Highway 64.

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North Carolina Waterfall Byway

The 98-mile North Carolina Waterfall Byway is a scenic route along U.S. Highway 64 between Murphy and Rosman. Dozens of waterfalls populate the two-lane highway, many within a ten-minute walk from the parking lot.

When I wrote a road trip itinerary, I extended the route into Brevard to include DuPont State Recreational Forest and Pisgah National Forest. The 140-mile road trip on the scenic North Carolina Waterfall Byway features 25 waterfalls and 5 destinations where you can spend the night.

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Best Time to Visit Waterfalls

It’s frustrating, but summer is not the best time to visit waterfalls. And autumn is the worst time.

The best time to visit waterfalls is late spring. After the snow melts and April showers have soaked the ground, waterfalls are at their best throughout May. What’s frustrating about this natural schedule is that spring in the western North Carolina mountains can still be chilly.

An alternative best time is a day or two after a heavy rain in the summer. Once the ground has dried, the waterfalls tend to churn for a few more days as the rainwater passes through the system.

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No. 1

Discovery Falls

Discovery Falls is a small cascading waterfall. The 3.8-mile roundtrip takes about 2 hours to complete. It’s a moderately easy hike with a gentle ascent returning from the waterfall.

It’s a remote waterfall and only accessible along a forest service road in Pisgah National Forest. The shortest route is to take FS 475B, also called Headwater Road, from U.S. Highway 276 near the Cradle of Forestry in America. You can park about half a mile from the waterfall if the gate is open.

However, the most common route is to park near U.S. Highway 276 and hike along the road.

National Park Week 2024

Learn about the annual celebration of the National Park System and read my travel guides to national park units across the country.

No. 2

Sliding Rock

Sliding Rock is not exactly a waterfall. But it is a cool place to visit while exploring waterfalls around Brevard.

The small mountain creek flows across a wide, exposed granite slab sloped just enough to send the water tumbling downhill. After thousands of years, the granite is smooth and makes a perfect natural slide.

The Sliding Rock Recreation Area was developed in Pisgah National Forest to take advantage of the natural slide. After paying a small admission fee, you can park in the large, paved parking lot with enough room for personal cars and RVs. It’s a short walk along a wooden boardwalk to the waterfall.

There are a couple of places to admire the waterfall – one above and one below. But if you want to take the plunge, you must get in line at the bottom. An iron handrail drilled into the granite provides a way to climb to the top. It can take almost twenty minutes to work through the line during the summer!

The slide down to the bottom, where sliders splash into a deep natural pool, takes less than a minute.

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No. 3

Moore Cove Falls

Moore Cove Falls is one of the most unexpectedly beautiful waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest. The free-falling waterfall is small, but it’s a spectacular sight with a good water flow.

The 1.2-mile roundtrip on the Moore Cove Falls Trail is easy. There is a gentle 150-foot ascent to a wooden scenic overlook at the waterfall’s base. And – it’s possible to stand behind the waterfall’s curtain!

Parking is limited along U.S. Highway 276 near Looking Glass Falls. The trail begins across a footbridge crossing Looking Glass Creek. It takes about an hour to complete the hike.

No. 4

Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls is the most iconic waterfall in North Carolina. You’ve likely already seen photos of the 60-foot free-falling waterfall.

Parallel parking along one side of U.S. Highway 276 has enough room for about a dozen vehicles. A sidewalk allows viewers to safely walk to the waterfall away from the road.

Read More | Easily View Looking Glass Falls in Brevard, North Carolina

A handicap-accessible overlook above the waterfall offers a rare chance for disabled visitors to see a waterfall. From there, a concrete staircase descends to the bottom of the waterfall. The shallow creek is easy to cross, and rounded boulders are perfect places to perch.

Looking Glass Falls is one of the exceptions to visiting waterfalls in the spring. This waterfall typically flows all year – and sometimes will freeze in the winter.

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No. 5

Slick Rock Falls

The cascading Slick Rock Falls is one of the easiest waterfalls to reach but one of the most difficult to view. The waterfall is about 2.6 miles from U.S. Highway 276 and 1.2 miles from the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. Park anywhere along the edge of the unmarked dirt road.

You can hear the waterfall the moment you step out of your car. A short, steep trail leads to several places to see the waterfall. But there is no official wooden overlook or defined area. It’s a natural area surrounded by rhododendron bushes and rounded boulders. So, choose your own viewing location.

No. 6

Cedar Rock Creek Falls

Cedar Rock Creek Falls is a 20-foot waterfall fed by a small stream originating on nearby Cedar Rock Mountain. Although it’s not a spectacular waterfall, it’s one of the most peaceful trails to hike in Pisgah National Forest.

The shortest way to the waterfall is a 2-mile out-and-back hike on the Cat Gap Loop Trail. This trail has little elevation change, making it an easy hike completed in about an hour.

The entire 4.6-mile Cat Gap Loop Trail loops around John Rock. It’s a scenic hike that gets progressively more difficult near the midpoint as it ascends almost 1,000 feet. It takes about 3 hours to complete the entire trail.

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No. 7

Hooker Falls

Hooker Falls is a spectacular waterfall in DuPont State Recreational Forest. The Little River spills over a 12-foot high ledge almost one hundred feet wide. The river at the bottom of the waterfall is deep enough to wade, making it a popular summer spot.

The 0.8-mile roundtrip hike is one of the easiest hikes to a waterfall in Brevard. No elevation change exists from the large gravel parking lot on Staton Road. The trail follows the route of an old service road, so it’s wide and easy to walk.

Bring a chair or blanket for this hike. A large beach area on the river’s edge is the perfect place to spend time in nature and enjoy every minute of the peaceful place.

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No. 8

Triple Falls

Triple Falls is a series of three cascading waterfalls on the Little River with a 120-foot total drop. It’s one of the most popular waterfalls in DuPont State Recreational Forest, so the trail is frequently cluttered with roundtrip hikers.

The 0.8-mile roundtrip hike is moderately strenuous. The trail begins with little elevation change as you cross a footbridge over the Little River and hike along the riverbank. But then, the trail starts a steep 200-foot ascent to a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the cascading waterfall.

A spur trail just past the scenic overlook leads to the middle waterfall’s base.

This trail begins in the same parking lot where the Hooker Falls Trail begins. The parking lot is large enough for dozens of vehicles.

No. 9

High Falls

High Falls is the most iconic waterfall in DuPont State Recreational Forest. The 120-foot cascading waterfall is a thunderous experience in the peaceful woods.

The 2.5-mile High Falls Trail begins at the visitor center. The trail follows a gravel road to a spectacular covered bridge. Two lanes wide with a pedestrian path on the side, the bridge was built in the 1990s as part of a defunct gated community. The bridge crosses the Little River just above High Falls – you can see where the water tumbles from the bridge.

The trail to the waterfall veers off the road just before the covered bridge. There is a brief ascent before the trail starts a long descent to the waterfall’s base. A scenic overlook provides a great view from the opposite cliff.

A spur trail ends at the waterfall’s base. The water is about knee deep, so enough to splash around but not to wade.

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No. 10

Wintergreen Falls

Wintergreen Falls is a small, 15-foot cascading waterfall in DuPont State Recreational Forest. It’s one of the lesser-known waterfalls in the forest and is usually a peaceful hike on an easy trail.

The most challenging part is getting to the parking at the trailhead. From Staton Road, turn onto Sky Valley Road and continue to the Guidon Farm Parking Area. The gravel parking lot is large enough for about two dozen cars. It takes about 10-15 minutes after turning off Staton Road.

The 3.1-mile roundtrip is moderately easy, with a few steep sections descending to the waterfall. It takes about 2 hours to complete the trail.

National Park Week 2024

Learn about the annual celebration of the National Park System and read my travel guides to national park units across the country.

No. 11

Bridal Veil Falls

If you watched the 1992 film Last of the Mohicans, you’ve already seen Bridal Veil Falls. The 120-foot cascading waterfall is one of the biggest and most beautiful in DuPont State Recreational Forest.

The waterfall and trailhead are in a remote section of DuPont State Recreational Forest. The quickest way to get there is from U.S. Highway 276 on the Cedar Mountain side of the recreation area. It’s a 3-mile drive to the Fawn Lake Parking Area on Reasonover Road.

The 4.4-mile roundtrip hike is interesting, to say the least. Most of the trail follows gravel roads built during the early construction of a planned gated community. The trail passes the small Fawn Lake, crosses an unused airstrip, and passes a barn.

The trail ends at the waterfall’s base. With a 400-foot elevation change, it takes about 2.5 hours to complete the trail.

The 4.6-mile roundtrip hike from the visitor center is an alternative hike to reach the waterfall. Although slightly longer, the hike is the same difficulty since it also travels along gravel roads.

No. 12

Connestee Falls

Connestee Falls is a gated community about 15 minutes from Brevard, named after a nearby waterfall. It’s one of the easiest waterfalls to view and one of the few that’s handicap accessible.

From the small parking lot, it’s an easy one-minute walk on a wooden boardwalk to a scenic overlook facing the waterfall. Connestee Falls is best viewed in the spring or after heavy rainfalls.

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No. 13

Bearwallow Falls

Bearwallow Falls is one of 26 waterfalls in Gorge State Park. The 0.5-mile roundtrip hike is a strenuous adventure with a steep descent from the parking lot. Although it’s only a 200-foot descent, it’s a 15% grade. Just remember the old saying about hiking – what goes down must go back up again.

A paved parking lot has about a dozen parking spaces. There is a marked crosswalk over the park’s road to the trail.

No. 14

Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls

The 3.9-mile roundtrip hike on the Rainbow Falls Trail includes three spectacular waterfalls. Rainbow Falls, Turtleback Falls, and Drift Falls are cascading waterfalls along the Horsepasture River in Gorges State Park.

The strenuous trail descends over 400 feet from the parking area, climbs over a 300-foot hill, and descends again to the waterfalls. It takes about 3-4 hours to complete the trail.

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No. 15

Upper Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the southeastern United States. The 800-foot cascading waterfall is divided into two sections. Upper Whitewater Falls plunges 411 feet into the Jocassee Gorge near NC Highway 281. Lower Whitewater Falls drops another 400 feet into Lake Jocassee in South Carolina.

The U.S. Forest Service maintains an excellent parking lot and scenic overlook at Upper Whitewater Falls. Parking is $3, a fee that is well worth considering the overlook’s quality.

Read More | How to See Whitewater Falls in North Carolina and South Carolina

A 0.25-mile paved trail provides an accessible path to the upper scenic overlook. From here, it’s easy to see – and hear – the waterfall in the distance. Descend 154 steps to a lower overlook on a wooden observation deck for a better view.

  • Trail Length | 0.25 mile
  • Difficulty | Easy (Moderately Easy if you take the steps to the Lower Overlook)
  • Amenities | Privy restrooms
  • Location | NC Highway 281, Cashiers, NC 28717

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Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
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