How to Hike North Carolina’s Largest Waterfall (with tips) – TheTravel | Gmx Pharm

There aren’t many things on earth more breathtaking than a majestic waterfall. The tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains is in North Carolina, right on the South Carolina border. For many, seeing the incredible cascade of Whitewater Falls totaling more than 800 feet is worth the trip.

Impressive from a distance, this waterfall is simply stunning up close. The hike there is rated as “moderate” but also hosts viewpoints that allow people to get a good view without overexerting themselves. To add to the impressive presence of Whitewater Falls, the surrounding landscape is still wild and untamed, making for incredible views.


Whitewater Falls: The tallest waterfall in the Carolinas

Whitewater Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Carolinas, but also arguably the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies. Its only competition is Crabtree Falls in Virginia, but some will say that even that doesn’t compare to North Carolina’s incredible falls. Visitors to the falls should be aware that there are two falls that make up the Whitewater Falls: the Upper and Lower Falls. Each is about 400 feet tall, making them both exactly the same height, but together they form an incredible waterfall that draws many hikers from both the region and across the country.

Upper Whitewater Falls

The easiest way to see the Upper Whitewater Falls is via the lookout point along the way. After parking, there is a paved trail that continues for about a quarter mile and this is where visitors will find the first lookout point.

This trail is wheelchair accessible.

From this vantage point, a stairway takes visitors down 154 steps to a second, lower vantage point. Arguably the better of the two, the view from this lower platform affords viewers a view of the entirety of the Upper Whitewater Falls. These are the two main vantage points for the falls, with the exception of the various hikes through the area that experienced hikers may choose.

Don’t stray off the trails around Whitewater Falls. Many people have fallen or injured themselves, and the off-piste conditions can be incredibly dangerous.

Lower Whitewater Falls Trail

For keen hikers and those lured by the more challenging falls route, there is a lower trail below these two lookout points. Hikers can follow a trail for about a half mile that drops 600 feet in elevation where they find themselves at the Whitewater River and Foothills Trail.

Those taking this trail should be aware of the switchback conditions and the fact that it can be slippery and has some steep sections. After the metal bridge, hikers must choose between two trails – one that takes hikers closer to the falls and is very difficult, and the other trail takes hikers downstream to Corbin Creek Falls.

Hikers should be aware of the wet conditions on both trails. Additionally, many hikers comment on the number of snakes that can often be seen along the trail or hiding under rocks on the riverbank.

Related: Here’s why the La Paz Waterfall Gardens are truly exceptional

Tips for visiting Whitewater Falls

Those visiting Whitewater Falls should choose a trail based on their hiking ability. While the viewpoints are easy, the decision to hike further down the Corbin Creek Falls Trail requires a higher level of mobility and comfort on slippery trails. Proper footwear is a must, including waterproof and non-slip hiking boots.

The best view of the falls is from the two viewpoints, and while the hike further down offers more viewpoints, it may not necessarily offer a better view. The best time to visit is in the summer or fall when the weather is good or when the foliage is beginning to change the surrounding landscape.

For those who time their visit precisely in the summer months, it is sometimes possible to see a rainbow cross in front of the falls as the sunlight reflects off the falls’ water jet.

Reaching the Whitewater Falls

For those coming to the falls from Asheville, the directions are as follows:

  • Go west on I-240 until you reach I-26 East. Visitors should exit at Asheville Airport/Brevard – Exit 40 – before turning right onto NC 280. From there, visitors should head to Brevard, taking US 64 West before turning left onto NC 281 to follow south to the Sapphire community. The entrance to Whitewater Falls is about 8 miles down the road.

Whitewater Falls is a beautiful sight and a must-see for those with some free time in Asheville.

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