Western North Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. In fact, the Blue Ridge Mountains are known as the “Land of the Waterfalls,” with literally hundreds of falls located within its borders. From large, impressive waterfalls to smaller, more relaxing falls with swimming holes, they span the whole spectrum and offer a great opportunity to hike and relax, as well as take some amazing photos.

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Turtleback Falls, which is also known as Umbrella Falls, is located in the Pisgah National Forest and is just a moderate hike (about 3.5 miles round-trip) away from Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park. Not only are the massive flat-faced rocks and rushing water of Turtleback Falls beautiful to look at, but it’s also one of the area’s most popular natural swimming holes.

Those who are ready for a little adventure can use a rope to climb up to the top of the falls and take a thrilling ride down the curved face of the rocks that drops twenty feet into the pool below. Only experienced swimmers should attempt this though, as the water can move very swiftly and the pool at the bottom is deep.

Be sure to also exercise caution when climbing the rocks since they can get slippery and do not slide when the water is high because you can swept down river by the current.

All along the sides of the falls are plenty of flat-faced rocks for sunbathing and enjoying views of the falls. So, take along plenty of water and snacks and make an afternoon of it by having a relaxing waterside picnic. Just keep in mind that the restrooms are about two miles away at the Grassy Ridge Parking Area in Gorges State Park.

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