North Carolina Nature, Waterfalls February 03, 2020
North Carolina’s Scenic Waterfall Loop Will Take You To 11 Different Waterfalls
Nothing beats a road trip through the mountains of North Carolina. With scenery at every turn, activities for the whole family, and charming towns to enjoy along the way, this region of the Tar Heel State seems tailor-made for outdoor enthusiasts. Today, we’ll introduce you to one of the most memorable scenic drives in the entire state: the
Western North Carolina Waterfall Loop. Accessible from Bryson City, North Carolina, this drive takes roughly 4.5 hours to complete and showcases 11 stunning falls. Some of these waterfalls can be seen from the road while others require a short hike.
Without further ado, here’s an overview of North Carolina’s most scenic waterfall loop. For the customizable Google Map, you can
1. Juney Whank
Our North Carolina waterfalls trip begins at the Deep Creek Waterfalls near Bryson City. In fact, you can
stay in Bryson City
to enjoy its close proximity to all of the gorgeous falls on this trip. The first trio of falls is located inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park and requires a bit of leisurely hiking. From the Deep Creek Trailhead parking area, you’ll follow a well-marked trail for 1/4 mile to Juney Whank Falls. This 90-foot cascade flows under a scenic footbridge. The name for the waterfall is believed to have been inspired by the Cherokee phrase “juney whank,” which means “the place where the bear passes.”
2. Tom Branch
From the Deep Creek Trailhead, continue approximately 1,000 feet along the trail to reach our second waterfall of the day. This gentle waterfall is 60 feet tall and flows into Deep Creek. Here you’ll find a bench for resting and soaking in the beautiful scenery. You might even spot some inner-tubers floating by.
3. Indian Creek
The third of the Deep Creek waterfalls is Indian Creek, which is about one mile from the main trailhead. While this waterfall may be only 25 feet high, the volume of water flowing into the pool below makes for the most mesmerizing spectacle. You’ll also notice a short spur-trail which leads to the base of the falls.
4. Upper Nantahala Cascades
The Nantahala is famous for its kayaking and rafting opportunities; however, relatively few have enjoyed the breathtaking cascades. Arguably the most beautiful portion of the river, the series of cascades begins 1,000 feet above the gorge. To access the cascades, take US 19/74 to the southern end of the Nantahala Gorge. Following Wayah Road, you'll be able to enjoy a majority of the Upper Nantahala Cascades right from your car.
5. Big Laurel Falls
Our next waterfall can be found in the Franklin Area. Big Laurel Falls is accessible via a 1.1-mile round-trip trail. The quick trek packs in loads of scenery and the waterfall itself is the crown jewel of the experience. Now that you've made it halfway through this waterfall road trip, you'll welcome the opportunity to stretch your legs.
6. Cullasaja Falls
Cullasaja Falls is a cascading waterfall that measures an impressive 250 feet. Better yet, it's visible from the car. For those who want a closer look, there's a short and sweet .2-mile trail that offers an even better view.
7. Dry Falls
The next portion of our waterfall loop will take us to Dry Falls in the Highlands Region of North Carolina. The inspiration behind the name of this iconic waterfall is the fact that visitors can walk behind the 75-foot falls without ever getting wet.
8. Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is just a stone's throw away from Dry Falls. The staggering 120-foot Bridal Veil Falls is one of North Carolina’s most iconic waterfalls, though photos hardly do it justice. It’s located in the Cullasaja Gorge, which is accessible via US 64. Just like Dry Falls, it's also possible to walk behind the waterfall for an unforgettable photo-op.
9. Silver Run Falls
Silver Run Falls may be only 30 feet tall, but the spectacle of this gorgeous waterfall emptying into a pool of water is one that's hard to describe. Just 4 miles south of Cashiers, this destination features a designated pull-off and quick walk to the viewing area.
10. Mingo Falls
Located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, there are two beautiful waterfalls you’ll want to visit: Mingo Falls and Soco Falls. Mingo Falls can be found in the community of Big Cove. This breathtaking cascade, whose name means “Big Bear” in the Cherokee language, is 120 feet tall. This makes it among the tallest waterfalls in all of Southern Appalachia.
11. Soco Falls
Last but not least, we arrive at Soco Falls. This staggering waterfall can be found 1.5 miles west of the Blue Ridge Parkway. What makes Soco Falls so memorable is the fact that it’s a double waterfall. This natural wonder can be found on the road to Maggie Valley, approximately 11 miles east of Cherokee. This waterfall is easily accessible via a viewing platform just a short walk from the designated pull-off.
How many of these beautiful North Carolina waterfalls have you seen? We’d love to hear all about your experiences in the comments below! And while you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out
these incredible day hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Address: Bryson City, NC 28713, USA