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The entire state of North Carolina is peppered with alluring natural wonders, including a collection of beautiful, two-tiered cascading waterfalls and raging torrents of varying sizes. The mass concentration of waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest alone is more than enough to satiate any type of tourist’s sightseeing desires, whether drive-by attraction seeker or high elevation hiker. The popular, well-known falls are easy to find and overrun with crowds on bluebird days, but there are so many equally appealing rapids to be explored if you know where to look.
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Often overlooked on account of the popular Looking Glass Falls nearby, Moore Cove Falls is worth checking out due to the serene, jungle backdrop of the cove and gentle spray of the fall against the red clay rocks. It is a 1.5-mile hike past the trailhead but worth the walk for those seeking a typically uncrowded destination.
French Broad Falls is a 3-for-1 package deal located just outside of Brevard off NC 215. No signs or directions point to its location, making it easy to pass by unless you are seriously looking for it. It is located on private property so treat the area with respect. Enjoy the dazzling panoramic view of gushing waterfall beauty.
At 40-foot tall, this gem is among the highest dropping waterfalls in the east. Set amidst a backdrop of pastel-painted red, gold, and green leaves in autumn, it is a must-see attraction for any low-key hiker willing to embark on the 1.5-mile round-trip journey. A strangely uncrowded attraction, this waterfall brags as being one of the featured sceneries from the movie “The Last of the Mohicans.”
A strenuous descending trail and dizzying elevation loss take hikers to a hidden cascade buried away in the Pisgah National Forest from the prying eyes of drive-by tourists. It is a worthwhile secret kept by the forest depths where you can enjoy a low-key waterfall down slanted, polished rock often speckled with fall leaves making for a unique, rustic setting.
Off the beaten path, Log Hollow Falls is another overlooked prize in close proximity to Looking Glass Falls but exceeds the more popular attraction in undeniable charm. Framed in famous Carolina rhododendron, this lesser-known allurement creates the perfect woodland waterfall portrait in an equally tranquil environment.
This magnificent, multi-tiered cascade flows downwards for 60 feet across dark shelves and ledges of slick rock to a shallow pool at its base. Although on private property, considerate landowners have opened up their backyard to share this pearl with the general public. Enjoy the cool spray reflecting off the rocky staircase but tread courteously so as not to endanger the attraction for others.
These neighboring rapids are for dedicated waterfall enthusiasts only. Their name truly matches their description. The primitive trail and slippery boulder crossings required for good views make for limited public appeal. But the worthwhile double waterfall against a truly undeveloped setting sets the scene for a beautiful photograph. Mossy rock and fallen logs only add to the agrarian presentation.
Once stationed in Gorges State Park, this particular portion of land has been transferred to Pisgah National Forest ownership. Rainbow Falls is an impressive, multi-level viewing platform of the biggest swell along the Horsepasture River. It is named for the often seen rainbow reflecting off the falls and across the wooden hiking bridge following a good rain.
This is perhaps one of the most unknown waterfalls in the state due to its remote location near Wilkesboro. Far from waterfall central, this jewel holds its own against the rivaling Pisgah beauties. The nearest accommodation, Hidden Hollow Retreat Cabin, is a testament to its lack of public familiarity. While visitors need campground permission to enjoy the scenery, waterfall advocates will not want to pass this one up. An old-fashioned mill and water-wheel background set a pristine landscape.
This impressive 60-foot waterfall near Brevard is located in the Pisgah National Forest and is one of the most popular in the state thanks to its easy accessibility. There’s no admission fee for this waterfall and it’s always open, making it a must-see stop while traveling along U.S. 276. You can see the spectacular falls from the parking area or you can take a short walk for a closer view. In the hotter months, this is a popular swimming hole too.
Just outside of Highlands, Dry Falls is a 75-foot waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest. You’ll find this waterfall just off U.S. Highway 64 and there’s an observation area that’s accessible to everyone. Those wanting to get a closer look can follow the path that leads you behind the waterfall. Because the water flows over a cliff, there’s room to walk behind the falls while staying dry and getting the perfect waterfall selfie.