The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau is known for its abundance of exceptional outdoor activities. No trip to the area would be complete without visiting one of the many waterfalls found nearby. Whether you’re looking for easy to access Highlands NC waterfalls or a the best waterfall hikes in Cashiers, each of our mountain communities offer a number of waterfall locations from which you, family, and friends may enjoy these magnificent natural wonders.
Here’s a few of our favorites to get you started. These suggestions are best suited for just about everyone who wants to enjoy their scenic beauty. You’ll find them in order of easiest to strenuous.
Bridal Veil Falls
Talk about convenient. One can drive right up to Bridal Veil falls. Found just outside Highlands driving towards Franklin on Highway 64, the falls are some of the most visited on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. Perfect for viewing and photographing if you have someone in your group that may have a more challenging time with mobility or getting around.
Just down the road a short distance from Bridal Veil Falls, Dry Falls is another scenic waterfall popular with vacationers and locals alike. Visitors can enjoy a platform area to enjoy an elevated view of the falls; or take the steps natural stone steps and get up close to the falls . As an added plus, one can also stroll behind the waterfall to experience this exceptional wonder.
While not exactly the easiest to get to and access parking, Cullasaja Falls is found in the Cullasaja Gorge on Highway 64 almost equadistant between Highlands and Franklin. The viewing area is found along the highway. While parking can be a bit tricky – the view is definitely worth the effort. Cullasaja Falls is a 250 foot waterfall that cascades of numerous rock platforms and cliffs.
Silver Run Falls
Just down Highway 107, south of Cashiers – this 40 foot waterfall is an easy 1/4 mile stroll from the parking area. Silver Run Falls is surround by lush primitive forest and thickets of rhododendron. The fall waterfall pours into a swimming hole perfect for cooling off on a warm day. If you are a photographer, this is one not to miss.
Located a short distance from Lake Glenville down Highway 107 headed towards Sylva, High Falls is a gentle downhill hike of about 1 1/2 miles to the falls. Along the way hikers trek beside the sections of the Cullasaja River. Hikers also encounter several gentle cross streams amongst the native vegetation. The hike is a bit more strenuous. As the falls sit below the Lake Glenville damn – at numerous times of the year the when the dam waters are released the falls take on a different look as the additional water creates quite a powerful waterfall.
Location: Lake Toxaway
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
A short drive down Highway 281 from Rainbow Falls, visitors will find one of areas most popular waterfalls – Whitewater Falls. With a drop of over 400 feet, Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. This is a primitive, rugged waterfall with dense forests and native vegetation surrounding the falls. Additional vegetation and foliage includes wild azaleas, rhododendron, ferns, along with many local wildflowers, and berries.
Location: Lake Toxaway
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
A breathtaking waterfall. This 150 foot waterfall is located in Gorges State Park – between Sapphire and Lake Toxaway. The park and trail access is down Highway 281 just off of Highway 64. Reaching the falls will require a hike of 1 1/2 miles of gently sloping terrain. The downside to this – is the hike back to the car is a bit more strenuous as the trek is mostly uphill. The trail is well marked and easy to follow. For those looking for more adventure, there are two additional waterfalls nearby, Hidden Falls and Turtle Falls.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Secret Falls (or Big Shoals Falls as it is also known) is a 50 foot waterfall that cascades off of Big Creek into a scenic pool. The pool is just perfect for beating the heat on a warm summer’s day. The hike is relatively short. About a half-mile.
Coming into Highlands from Cashiers on Hwy. 64 take a left onto Main Street. Follow the road through town and along a windy curvy road (3.7 miles) to WAlking Stick Road in the Horse Cove area. Turn right onto Walking Stick Road. This is a one lane, dirt road that you’ll follow for about 2.5 miles. As you come to the fork veer right. Go across the bridge for about another quarter mile and turn right on FR4567. This is a gated road and it may be locked off during the off season. If not, proceed another quarter mile to the parking area and look for the stake marked “Secret Falls”. Your adventure begins there.
Disclaimer: We love suggesting activities that you may enjoy; but please note all activities are at your own risk and HighlandsCashiersPlateau.com and any of its sponsors or representatives are not responsible for injuries that could result from any activities that are featured on our website. All outdoor activities have some risk, so always be careful. Wet rocks can be very slippery so proceed with extra caution by any waterfall. Pay attention to and obey any and all signage. And take care to keep a close watch on your children. Do NOT get too close to the edge on the waterfalls – or go past fenced barriers. The signs and barriers are there for a reason. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred when individuals have ignored posted warnings. We are blessed with many natural wonders – let’s enjoy them at a distance and with common sense.