The Best Hikes to Waterfalls

Hikes By Features: Waterfalls | Views | Historic Sites | Kids and Families

Here's a collection of what we consider to be the best waterfall hikes in the Western North Carolina region.

One of the most popular destinations for hiking in the mountains, waterfalls abound in the southern Appalachians, with ample rainfall falling on erosion-resistant rocks underlying the smooth, round ridges. Waterfalls are a common feature on both smaller streams and larger rivers.

While these are what we consider the best hikes in the region that include a waterfall, they are by no means an exhaustive list of all the waterfalls you can hike to. For ALL the waterfalls we know about in Western North Carolina, visit our sister site, WNCWaterfalls.info!

Toms Creek Falls Hike

Easy Hike
  • This easy hike is excellent for families and children, with a reward at the end that everyone will look forward to. It's short enough that adults who have to carry tired kids won't be too worn out at the end to enjoy it themselves. The waterfall...
  • 0.8mi, Climbs Gently
  • Tread Condition: Graveled

Hickory Nut Falls Hike

Easy Hike
  • This moderate hike takes you out-and-back through a vibrant forest to the base of Hickory Nut Falls. This is a very high and neat waterfall. You'll travel along the base of the cliffs that form the edge of the Hickory Nut Gorge and the Falls. Trees...
  • 1.5mi, Climbs Gently
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Lower Douglas Falls Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This spectacular, 70 ft. falls is located in an old-growth forest. The lower access to the falls is a walk on a gently sloped trail to its base. The hike is markedly changed from years past; though the hemlocks in the area are dead, you'll travel...
  • 1mi, Climbs Gently
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Moore Cove Falls Hike

Easy Hike
  • This showery plunging waterfall is located in one of the most popular areas of the Pisgah National Forest, near the Davidson River in the "Land of Waterfalls". It's a delightful, beautiful walk thru fern-filled woods. And it's easy enough for...
  • 1.4mi, Climbs Gently
  • Tread Condition: Few Obstacles

Skinny Dip Falls Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This moderate, short hike takes you to an appealing waterfall and swimming hole on the Yellowstone Prong of the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River. It makes a great summer swimming destination, a great way to stretch your legs if you're traveling the...
  • 0.8mi, Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Dupont Waterfalls Tour Hike

Easy Hike
  • **Note (July 2013):** the Hooker Falls parking area has been expanded and the new pedestrian bridge is in place! On this hike, you'll visit up to 5 of the 6 major waterfalls in Dupont State Forest. It starts as an easy path to some of the most...
  • 0.6 - 6mi, Climbs Moderately
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Crabtree Falls Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This popular, short loop descends on a moderate path to a majestic 70' waterfall, which is widely touted as one of the most photogenic in the area. You'll climb steeply up the opposite ridge for a short distance, then hike a wide, smooth trail beside...
  • 3mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Linville Falls - Erwin's View Hike

Moderate Hike
  • Linville Falls has two mail trails: Erwin's view and Plunge Basin. Erwin's view is the easier of the two, and stops at three main overlooks: Upper Falls, Chimney View, and the eponymous Erwin's View. This trail passes through a majestic forest of...
  • 1.5mi, Few Hills
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Graveyard Fields Hike

Moderate Hike
  • A unique loop trail winds through this high-elevation, flat valley. Two spurs lead to some of the most photographed and enjoyed waterfalls in the state! You'll pass through open areas, stands of Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron, and young northern...
  • 3.2mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Some Obstacles

Stone Mountain Loop Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • Passing three of the most sought-out points in the park - the summit of Stone Mountain, the Hutchinson Homestead, and Stone Mountain Falls - this hike is as varied as the park itself. A moderate climb through open, pleasant woods gives way to more...
  • 4.5mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Panthertown Valley Tour Hike

More Difficult Hike
  • This is a large loop with a wide variety of main attractions. The trails will take you past lazy, meandering streams with clean white sandbars, yet you'll discover 5 major waterfalls as well. You'll explore the unusual, flat-bottomed, high-elevation...
  • 8.8 - 10.0mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Flat Laurel Creek Hike

Moderate Hike
  • This loop takes you around the headwaters basin of Flat Laurel Creek, which starts in a unique, high-elevation valley surrounded by sharp peaks, grassy balds, and cool, dark, spruce-fir forests. Its elevation is over 5300 ft at the bottom, and it...
  • 2.5mi, Climbs Gently
  • Tread Condition: Moderately Rough

Harper Creek Falls Hike

Most Difficult Hike
  • A wilderness experience awaits along Harper Creek. This is not your typical, easy hike to Harper Creek Falls. However, this is a relatively gentle encounter with wilderness due to its short length, moderate grade, and sparse (but useful) trail...
  • 8.5mi, Hilly
  • Tread Condition: Very Rough