Worth the Trip: Wonderful N.C. Waterfalls

The large, sandy pool at Silver Run Falls is ideal for swimming in the shallows.

Tucked along the trails in Jackson County, beautiful waterfalls await hikers in the North Carolina mountains. The nearby Eastern Continental Divide is where water flows in two directions creating serene, cascading falls and deep lagoons.

Several falls can be found at the end of a short hike, while others require a bit more effort to discover. Either way, visitors will not be disappointed with any of Jackson County’s more than 25 waterfalls ranging from powerful cascading falls to gentle flows, all which make for great photo opportunities.

We highlight a few picturesque spots, and more information can be found at discoverjacksonnc.com. For more photos of Cashiers, Sylva and Dillsboro, see Jonathan Fredin’s Jackson County photo essay.

Whitewater Falls is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies.

Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies, falling a total of 811 feet. With an easy hike, a paved path to an overlook with an excellent view of the falls and shelters perfect for picnicking, this is the perfect waterfall for families to enjoy. Though the Upper Falls, which drops over 411 feet, are located near Cashiers, the Lower Falls are just across the South Carolina state line. There is a small fee to park at the falls.

Schoolhouse Falls

Though not the tallest waterfall at 18 feet, Schoolhouse Falls isn’t lacking in beauty. A mix of small cascades that end in a stunning free fall from Greenland Creek, Schoolhouse Falls provides an excellent opportunity for photographers to capture its natural beauty. In addition to watching the falls, visitors can enjoy a moderate hike on the Little Green Mountain Trail, which is located next to the falls and offers breathtaking views. The pool at the bottom of the falls can make a fantastic swimming hole on nicer days, but visitors should be mindful of slippery rocks and sensitive plant life. Schoolhouse Falls is kid and pet-friendly.

The pool at the bottom of Schoolhouse Falls can be a nice spot for fishing or swimming, but visitors should be mindful of slippery rocks.

Silver Run Falls

For those seeking an easy trek, Silver Run Falls is a popular, family-friendly spot for locals and tourists alike. The 40-foot cascading waterfall tumbles into Silver Run Creek, making it a favorite for photographers looking for the perfect shot underneath the falls. The large, sandy pool is calm and glassy, ideal for swimming in the shallows, or having a picnic on the small beach that surrounds the pool. The falls are a short walk from the parking lot on U.S. 64.

High Falls

High Falls turns powerful with Duke Energy’s Glenville Dam water release.

Lake Glenville’s normally calm, small-stream High Falls turns into the most powerful waterfall in the North Carolina mountains during Duke Energy’s recreational Glenville Dam water release. Those who aren’t up for paddling the Class IV rapids can take a short hike down to the 150-foot High Falls, and watch the kayakers take on the five-mile challenge. The hike descends steeply down through the beautiful, lush forest to the river’s banks in a total of 650 feet in 0.75 miles on 75 flights of manmade stairs. The rushing waters of High Falls can be heard long before reaching the fall itself as it pours over a 100-foot cliff into the boulder-filled pool below. The hike back up can be strenuous, but is well worth the beautiful view of the falls.

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