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Whitewater Falls

Warning: Waterfalls are beautiful but dangerous and slippery; each year people die while climbing waterfalls or exploring off-trail near waterfalls. Please stay on the trail, view waterfalls from a distance, and return home safely! As a reminder, it is illegal to swim in any waters within the boundaries of the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Pictured here: Whitewater Falls

Shenandoah National Park Region – Virginia

North of BRP Milepost 0

Skyline Drive traverses Shenandoah National Park from Milepost 0 at the North end of the Park to Milepost 105.4 at Rockfish Gap at the South end of the Park. Maps and more information about Shenandoah National Park waterfalls can be found here. There is an entrance fee for Shenandoah National Park.

Skyline Drive Milepost 21.1 – Overall Run Falls
Access at parking lot just south of Hogback Overlook.
Distance: Approximately 6.5 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
At 93-feet, this is the tallest falls in the Park. Best viewed before June as it may dry up during the summer.

Skyline Drive Milepost 41.7 and 42.5 – Skyland Resort
Dining and lodging options at a prime location near the waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park. Newly renovated rooms, cozy historic cabins, suites, and pet-friendly rooms are all available.

Skyline Drive Milepost 42.6 – Whiteoak Canyon Falls
Access at Whiteoak Canyon parking area.
Distance: 4.6 Miles (round-trip to the first falls)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
The first and largest of the six falls is 86-feet. You can continue further, but not all the falls are easily accessible from the trail.

Skyline Drive Milepost 45.6 – Cedar Run Falls
Access at Hawksbill Gap parking area.
Distance: 3.4 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
Cedar Run Falls (34-feet) and Whiteoak Canyon Falls can be linked into one strenuous 7.3 Mile hike.

Skyline Drive Milepost 49.4 – Rose River Falls
Access across from Fishers Gap Overlook.
Distance: 2.6 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Features up to four cascades in rainy weather.

Skyline Drive Milepost 50.7 – Dark Hollow Falls
Access at Dark Hollow Falls parking area.
Distance: 1.4 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Popular trail to the 70-foot falls. Some sections are steep. No pets are allowed on this trail.

Skyline Drive Milepost 51 and 51.2 – Big Meadows Lodge
Hike the loop trail to Lewis Falls directly from your historic main lodge room or comfortable, rustic motel-like unit when you stay at Big Meadows Lodge.  Several other waterfalls are within a short drive.

Skyline Drive Milepost 51.4 – Lewis Falls
Access from parking lot just south of Big Meadows next to a service road.
Distance: 2.5 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Trail is rocky and steep en route to the 81-foot falls. Best water flow is early in the season or after a good rain.

Skyline Drive Milepost 62.8 – South River Falls
Access at South River picnic area.
Distance: 3.3 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Third tallest waterfall in Shenandoah at 83-feet.  Trail takes you to an overlook above the falls. There is also a rocky 1-mile round-trip spur trail that goes to the base of the falls.

Skyline Drive Milepost 81.1 – Doyles River Falls
Access at Doyles River parking area.
Distance: 3.0 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Three mile round-trip to see upper (28-feet) and lower falls (63-feet), or you can hike a 7.8 Mile loop that includes Jones Run Falls.

Skyline Drive Milepost 84.1 – Jones Run Falls
Access at Jones Run parking area.
Distance: 3.6 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
3.6 mile round-trip to see 42-foot Jones Run Falls or make it a longer loop to include Doyles River Falls (see above).

Ridge Region – Virginia

BRP Milepost 0-106

Crabtree Falls in Virginia

Crabtree Falls in VA

Rockfish Gap at the southern end of Shenandoah National Park marks the northern starting point of the Blue Ridge Parkway at its Milepost 0. There is no entrance fee to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway.

BRP Milepost 19.9 – White Rock Falls
Access at Slacks Overlook.
Distance: 1.8 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Also accessible from Milepost 18.5

Exit BRP at Milepost 27.2 – Crabtree Falls (VA) ♿ (first overlook)
6.3 Miles from Parkway via VA-56 E; day use fee required
Distance:  the first overlook is accessible via a short, easy walk along a paved trail; 2.8 Miles (round-trip) to four other overlooks with 1,070+ feet of elevation gain and loss
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Five major (& several minor) cascades totaling 1,200 feet; considered the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. This falls is pictured above.

BRP Milepost 34.4 – Wigwam Falls
Access at Yankee Horse Ridge Parking Area.
Distance: 0.2 Mile (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Reconstructed narrow-gauge railroad track forms part of the trail.  Viewing bridge is located beneath the 30-foot falls.

BRP Milepost 78.4 – Apple Orchard Falls
Access at Sunset Fields Overlook.
Distance: 2.4 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
Viewing platform directly underneath the falls.

BRP Milepost 83.1 – Fallingwater Cascades
Access at Fallingwater Cascades Overlook.
Distance: Approximately 1.6 Miles (round-trip for the whole loop)
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Plateau Region – Virginia to NC State line

BRP Milepost 106-217

Exit the BRP and head west to access Jefferson National Forest, the Little Stony National Recreation Trail, and the spectacular 776-acre public Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve containing interesting flora, fauna and geologic features—including Big Falls on Big Cedar Creek—in the Heart of Appalachia, where waterfalls abound.

Highlands Region – North Carolina

BRP Milepost 217-340

BRP Crabtree Falls

NC Crabtree Falls Photo by William A. Bake

BRP Milepost 271.9 – Cascades
Access at Cascades Overlook.
Distance: 1.0 Mile (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate (some steep stairs)
Intersects the Tompkins Knob and Mountains to Sea Trails.

BRP Milepost 296.4 – Boone Fork Falls (also called Hebron Falls)
Access at Julian Price Park picnic area across the bridge near the restrooms.
Distance: 2.8 Miles (to the falls and back hiking counterclockwise on the Boone Fork Trail) or 4.9 Miles (round-trip for the whole loop)
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Strenuous (some steep stairs and ladders and multiple stream crossings that can be difficult after rain)

Exit BRP at Milepost 305.2 to see Otter Falls on a 1.2 Mile (round-trip) moderate hike off of Skyland Drive in Seven Devils. Several loop trails offer various options for your return trek.

Exit BRP at Milepost 312 and travel South on NC-181 to visit Burke County, Nature’s Playground, and view one of several waterfalls in South Mountains State Park. Trails range from moderate to strenuous. If nature’s your thing, come explore the almost 12,000 acres of Linville Gorge Wilderness Area!

McDowell County features the spectacular region of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Linville Falls and Crabtree Falls, Mileposts 316 to 344. More waterfalls are located off the BRP; exit at Milepost 317.4 for Tom’s Creek Falls, an 80-foot multi-cascade waterfall on an easy 1 Mile round-trip hike just 1.2 Miles from US-221. Catawba Falls is a 100-foot multi-cascade on a moderate 2.1 Mile round-trip hike off of Catawba River Road just West of Old Fort only 30 minutes from Tom’s Creek Falls.

BRP Milepost 316.4 – Linville Falls
Access from parking lot at end of Linville Spur Road.
Linville Falls Trail (view of Upper Falls)
Distance: 1.6 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Linville Gorge Trail (view of Lower Falls)
Distance: 1.0 Mile (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
Duggers Creek Trail (loop to view of Duggers Falls) ♿
Distance: 0.3 Mile (round-trip for the whole loop)
Difficulty Level: Easy
Erwins View Trail (views of Upper Falls and Lower Falls)
Distance: 1.6 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Exit BRP at Milepost 317.4 for Cross Creek Cabins, five fully-furnished log cabins available to rent year-round within walking distance of Linville Falls. Whether you play in town or hike all day, these cabins located on 25 scenic acres will be a respite for you and your pet during your stay.

Exit BRP at Milepost 333.9 – Grassy Creek Falls
0.7 Mile from Parkway via High Ridge Road and Blands Knob
Distance: 1.5 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Easy
Multi-level cascade located on private property requires walking partway on a gravel drive with some steep grades.

Exit BRP at Milepost 333.9 for Emerald Village, where you’ll not only see the Bon Ami Waterfall, but you can also experience NC mining history at the NC Mining Museum and tour the underground Bon Ami mine.  Emerald Village is home to 12 historic real mines and houses an impressive collection of old mining and historical equipment. Portions of the site are handicap accessible.

BRP Milepost 339.5 – Crabtree Falls (NC)
Access at Crabtree Falls Campground.
Distance: 1.8 Miles (round-trip to the falls and back) or 2.5 to 3 Miles (round trip for the whole loop) depending on which route you take
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Strenuous
Water cascades over a 60-foot rock cliff.

Pisgah Region – North Carolina

BRP Milepost 340-469

Soco Falls

Soco Falls

Exit BRP at Milepost 344.1 for Alberts Lodge at Mt Mitchell. Stay year-round in the inn or a cottage with views of the Black Mountains and walk to Roaring Fork Falls. Located just two minutes from the Parkway!

Exit BRP at Milepost 344.1 – Roaring Fork Falls
2.6 Miles from Parkway via NC-80 N, S Toe River River Road & Busick Work Center Road (Continue on S Toe River Road to reach Setrock Creek Falls)
Distance: 1.4 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Easy
The 100-foot cascade is worth the walk.

Exit BRP at Milepost 344.1 – Setrock Creek Falls
5.5 Miles from Parkway via NC-80 N and S Toe River River Road
Distance: 1.0 Mile (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Easy
Park outside the Black Mountain Campground and walk in across the bridge toward the Mt. Mitchell Trail, then look for the Setrock Creek Falls trailhead past the Mt. Mitchell Trail. 75-foot waterfall that provides an excellent show after a good rain.

BRP Milepost 361.2 – Glassmine Falls
Visible from Glassmine Falls Overlook at Milepost 361.2.
Falling along an 800-foot cliff across the valley, it’s most visible after heavy rains and when leaves are off the trees.

BRP Milepost 363.4 – Douglas Falls
Access at Graybeard Mountain Overlook.
Distance: 8.0 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
From the overlook, follow the Mountains to Sea Trail South for one mile to the junction with the Falls Trail, then travel three miles on the Falls Trail to the 70-foot Douglas Falls, past a series of cascades.

Exit BRP at Milepost 384.7 for Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. Located just 20 Miles from Parkway via US-74 ALT E, you can view 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls featured in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans,” hike the trails, and enjoy the panorama from Chimney Rock. Take the stairs or the elevator; it’s an experience either way! Check the park website for details about which parking lots are open as this will determine how long and difficult your hike is.

Exit BRP at Milepost 384.7 or 393.6 and head southeast to Polk County for Big Bradley Falls (moderate hike), Drip Falls (moderate hike), Emily Falls (short, easy hike to a 12-foot falls), Little Bradley Falls (moderate hike), Pearson’s Falls (no pets, day use fee required, moderate 0.5 Mile round-trip trail to see the 90-foot falls) and Shunkawauken Falls (♿ visible from roadside pull offs) among the charming towns of Tryon, Saluda and Columbus.

Exit BRP at Milepost 388.8, 393.6, or 411.8 to explore Henderson County from Hendersonville’s historic downtown to the Flat Rock Playhouse to the waterfalls of DuPont State Recreational Forest and then stop in for a locally-brewed beer or cider.
 
Exit BRP at Milepost 411.8 to visit North Carolina’s Land of Waterfalls, Transylvania County. In addition to several waterfalls that you can hike to, Looking Glass Falls ♿ (9.5 Miles from the Parkway via US-276 S) in Pisgah National Forest is accessible to everyone because it is visible from the roadside.  For more waterfalls in Transylvania County, click here.
 
Exit BRP at Milepost 411.8 – Upper Whitewater Falls ♿ (first overlook)
45.2 Miles from BRP via US-276 S & US-64 W; day use fee required
Distance: 0.25 Mile (one-way) to upper platform, lower viewing platform is an additional 0.5 Mile (one-way) down a steep set of 150+ steps for a round-trip of 1.5 Miles
Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
Very popular 411-foot falls borders Jackson County. This falls is pictured at the beginning of the story.
 
BRP Milepost 417 – Skinny Dip Falls
Access across from the Looking Glass Rock Overlook.
Distance: 0.9 Mile (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate (lots of rocks and roots)
From the overlook, follow the Mountains to Sea Trail South to reach these very popular falls: a series of three cascades that drop into the final deep pool next to a jumping off rock. You can wade and soak in shallower areas.

BRP Milepost 418.8 – Graveyard Fields Falls
Access at the Graveyard Fields Overlook.
Distance: 2.9 Miles (round-trip)
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Both falls are accessible on a 2.9-mile trek, starting with Lower Falls and then going on to Upper Falls. Wild blueberries grow along the route. The trail is not well marked and there are many side trails because the area sees heavy use. ♿ Lower Falls is visible from the Parkway.

Exit BRP at Milepost 423.3 and head South on NC-215 for 6.7 miles for the easy 0.7 Mile (round-trip) hike to Courthouse Falls.  Then rejuvenate overnight at Trout House Falls Luxury Waterfront Vacation Rentals. Listen to a rushing waterfall as you sleep, watch the stream cascade by, or fish in the French Broad River. Whether you hike and bike, relax, or reunite with family and friends, these cabins offer a perfect tranquil setting.

Exit BRP at Milepost 443.1, 455.7, or 469.1 to head to Jackson County where there are more waterfalls than you can shake a stick at, such as High Falls or Cullowhee Falls (1.5 Mile moderate to strenuous hike; the flow varies based on how much water is released from the dam and the amount of rain) and Silver Run Falls (25-foot falls with a swimming hole on a 0.5 Mile round-trip easy trail).  Another beauty, 411-foot Upper Whitewater Falls, is close to the South Carolina state line and borders Transylvania County (see Milepost 411.8 for details).

Exit BRP at Milepost 455.7 – Soco Falls (pictured above)
1.5 Miles from Parkway at Soco Gap via US-19 S
Distance: short walk on a maintained trail to a viewing platform
Beautiful 120-foot double waterfall flows into the rocky stream below.
Note: Parking can be challenging during busy times as there is just a wide shoulder on the left side of the road. It is also not well signed; you’ll drive just .03 mile past the small blue sign stating “Soco Falls ½ mile ahead.”  From the viewing platform, there is a steep, slippery trail to the base of the falls.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Region – NC & TN

Southwest of BRP Milepost 469

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Exit BRP at Milepost 469.1 to visit the waterfalls of Bryson City & Swain County. Some of the favorites are Tom’s Branch ♿ (via a 0.6 Mile round-trip relatively flat gravel path), Indian Creek and Juney Whank Falls (see both on a 1.6 Mile round-trip easy trail) in the Deep Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  In nearby Franklin, you’ll find Rufus Morgan Falls (1.0 Mile moderate loop trail) and Big Laurel Falls (1.1 Mile round-trip easy trail) in Nantahala National Forest and Upper & Lower Cullasaja Falls ♿ (visible from US-64). Continuing to Highlands, you’ll discover Dry Falls ♿ (a 75-foot falls that you can walk behind via a short trail), Bridal Veil Falls ♿ (you can drive under this 45-foot falls at a pull off along the road, pictured above) and Glen Falls (a triple waterfall which requires some hiking).

Also exit BRP at Milepost 469.1 to enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along US-441.  Many waterfalls are scattered throughout the Park, some requiring hiking and some handicap accessible ♿(reachable via vehicle). A map and descriptions of the falls can be found here. There is no entrance fee to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.