Although Asheville, North Carolina, is a relatively small city, its tourism sector thrives. Home to about 100,000 citizens, this city has outstanding natural scenery. This attracts hikers from all over the country to adventure on its mesmerizing trails.
Best Waterfalls near Asheville
There are several Asheville hikes with waterfalls to discover, and most aren’t too far from the city center. Even if it’s raining, it shouldn’t scare you away, as these waterfalls get even more mesmerizing.
Here are 14 of the most fascinating waterfall hike trails in Asheville.
1. Skinny Dip Falls
This is one of the best waterfall hikes on Blue Ridge Parkway. Located 33 miles from downtown Asheville, Skinny Dip Falls is a must-see. The Multi-tiered waterfall, cascading into crystal clear, deep pools, is breathtaking.
Known for its swimming hole, this waterfall is a popular destination, especially in summer. That’s because the water is always cool and refreshing. Furthermore, the trail is easy and short, as the roundtrip is only about 0.9 miles. That’s why it falls under the kids-friendly category.
2. Catawba Falls
Being part of Pisgah National Forest, Catawba Falls is definitely worth the visit. Its location is just 27 miles east of Asheville. Moreover, along the trail leading to the waterfall are amazing views of the Catawba River and some other smaller falls.
The trail is moderate, with breathtaking scenery of the water running over mossy rocks. Leading to the 100-foot cascade, it’s only a three-mile round trip. This hike is great for kids and families as well as beginner hikers. That’s why it’s one of the most popular hike trails near Asheville.
3. Daniel Ridge Falls
This waterfall offers another breathtaking experience for hikers. The Daniel Ridge falls also goes by the names Tom’s Spring Falls and Jackson Falls. It features a 150-foot water cascade. Additionally, it’s only 40 miles away from Asheville. So, it’s not too far to consider visiting.
You can easily access this waterfall through a half-mile trail, or you can choose to hike the four-mile loop. Whatever you decide to do, it’s always a great idea to do so after a decent rainfall. That’s when the waterfall looks its best and is not just a weak stream.
5. Looking Glass Falls
This is one of the most magnificent waterfalls in North Carolina. Moreover, it’s easily accessible from the main road through a roadside observation deck. Located less than 40 miles from Asheville, this 60-foot waterfall splashes into a rocky pool.
Also located in Pisgah National Forest, the Looking Glass Falls trail is only 0.3 miles out and back. This waterfall is popular in summer when swimming in the refreshing waters is enjoyable. That said, people also visit it in winter to see the astonishing icicles formed on its sides.
6. Crabtree Falls
Another hiking destination down the Blue Ridge Parkway, Crabtree Falls is one of North Carolina’s most stunning waterfalls. It’s a little less than 50 miles away from Asheville, but it’s worth the trip.
The trail is loop-style, starting at the Crabtree Falls Campground. So, it doesn’t matter which way you decide to go. That’s unless you prefer a steeper downhill direction and a more gradual ascend over the other way around. In this case, you might want to go counterclockwise.
The trail has moderate difficulty (two miles round trip). Therefore, you should expect some steep and slippery areas. However, it’s all worth the 70-foot waterfall scene that’s waiting for you deep in the dense forest.
7. Pearson’s Falls
Located 38 miles south of Asheville, this hiking trail is almost at the northern borders of South Carolina. It’s privately owned by a non-profit organization that’s aiming to preserve over 270 acres of forest. That’s why the entry isn’t free, but with nominal fees to help maintain the area.
The hike to Pearson’s Falls is short (0.25 miles) yet packed with mesmerizing natural sceneries of over 200 wildflower species. The trail is relatively easy to go through, which makes it perfect for a romantic walk.
There are some restrooms, many benches, and picnic tables, making Pearson’s Falls pretty convenient, especially for families.
8. Slick Rock Falls
Another waterfall that’s best to see after heavy rainfall is Slick Rock Falls. It’s 39 miles away from Asheville, and 35-foot high cascading from an overhanging cliff. The trail to this waterfall is less than one mile, and it’s one of the easiest waterfall hikes.
Slick Rock Falls is also a delight to visit in winter. That’s because of its gorgeous icicle formations. In summer, on the other hand, walking underneath or behind the drizzling water is cooling and refreshing.
9. High Falls, Hooker Falls, and Triple Falls
This is a three-in-one combo deal with more than one astounding waterfall along the same trail. Located 39 miles away from Asheville, those waterfalls are sensational.
Walking this 3.6-mile hike, you get to the fascinating 12-foot cascade of Hooker Falls, which flows into a large pool. Additionally, you enjoy the Triple falls, where the water descends over three levels with a total height of 120 feet. Moreover, the 150-foot High Falls is a must-see.
If you’re not into walking long trails, you can try either waterfall hike trail separately. Reaching each one of them doesn’t require more than a 1.2-mile round trip, and their trails are relatively moderate to hike.
10. Bridal Veil Falls
The hiking trail leading to Bridal Veil Falls runs through the DuPont State Forest. This forest is about 47 miles south of Asheville. To visit the gigantic cascade, this waterfall requires a 4.4-mile round trip.
This is one of DuPont’s least visited waterfalls. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less mesmerizing than the others. Instead, this makes it a perfect spot for relaxing and meditating.
You’ll spend most of the hike walking down gravel roads, which might be also great for biking.
11. Moore Cove Falls
Located near the Looking Glass Falls, this waterfall is one of a kind. It’s 50 feet high, lying among very few waterfalls in North Carolina that a person can walk behind. It takes a 0.75-mile hike to reach Moore Cove Falls, which isn’t too hard to accomplish.
The trail starts at the wooden pedestrian bridge near the parking area on U.S. 276. It’s great for families and children, as it contains no steep areas.
That said, the waterfall doesn’t flow profusely, especially during dry weather conditions. So, to witness the spectacular waterfall scene as it should be, it’s better to visit Moore Cove Falls after heavy rainfall.
12. Graveyard Fields Loop
Although the name can be misleading, Graveyard Fields is definitely a hike with a waterfall. It’s located on the Blue Ridge Parkways, around 35 miles from Asheville.
This 3.2-mile loop trail starts down the stairs at the parking lot. After walking through thick rhododendrons for a short while, you should be able to follow the path easily.
If you’re aiming for a shorter walk, you can find another waterfall only 0.3 miles away from the parking lot. Be careful on the way back, though. That’s because you may encounter a few uphill, steep sections, which can be challenging.
13. Rainbow Falls
This is another spectacular waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Although it’s over one hour drive from Asheville, Rainbow Falls is still highly recommended to visit. Impressively, this stunning waterfall runs down a cliff that is 150 feet high.
The hike to Rainbow Falls extends over the course of a 1.5 miles trail. Walking down this trail, you pass a few creek crossings along the Horsepasture River. What’s more, you pass two beautiful smaller waterfalls while hiking. These waterfalls are Driftwood and Turtleback Falls.
The Rainbow falls got its name from its aura of splashing mist that forms colorful rainbows when sunlight hits it.
14. Upper Whitewater Falls
The list isn’t complete without including the highest waterfall east of the Rockies, with a staggering elevation of over 800 feet. The Whitewater Falls consists of two sections: the Upper Falls in North Carolina and the Lower Falls in South Carolina.
The Upper Whitewater Falls, which is more than 400 feet tall, is outstanding. Therefore, it’s most definitely worth the 60-mile trip from Asheville.
The trail leading to the upper overlook of this waterfall is only 0.25 miles. As for the lower overlook, you need to go down more than 150 steps. Avoid wandering off the marked path for a better view, as it can be pretty dangerous.
Even if you’re not a fan of hiking, you can find suitable options in the previous list of Asheville hikes with waterfalls. So, if you’re considering a trip to this amazing North Carolina city, you should definitely include a couple of those hiking trails in your plans.
Having said that, always be prepared with suitable hiking gear. What’s more, it’s critical to follow all safety procedures, especially near the waterfall’s slippery rocks.