The Highlands and Cashiers region of North Carolina is a beautiful area filled with stunning waterfalls that are perfect for families and friends to explore. With a variety of hiking trails and swimming spots, this region offers something for everyone.
1. Dry Falls
One of the top waterfalls in the area is Dry Falls. Located just a few miles from Highlands along US Highway 64, this 75-ft. waterfall allows you to walk behind it and experience the power of the water up close. Dry Falls is part of the Nantahala National Forest and is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery and has a viewing platform that offers stunning views of the entire area. As you stand behind the waterfall, you can feel the mist on your face and hear the roar of the water as it cascades down the rocks. Several hiking trails in the area allow you to explore the beauty of the forest. The Dry Falls Trail is a short and easy hike that takes you to the waterfall and back. The trail is well-maintained and offers plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the scenery. Dry Falls is a must-see destination if you're in the area. With its stunning beauty and easy accessibility, it's the perfect place to spend a day exploring the great outdoors.
2. Glen Falls
Another popular waterfall is Glen Falls, which is accessed via a two-mile round-trip hike near Highlands. This hike takes you to two beautiful waterfalls and is a great way to explore the area. Glen Falls is a 60-foot waterfall that cascades down a series of rock formations, creating a stunning display of water and mist. The trail leading to Glen Falls is well-maintained and offers beautiful views of the surrounding forest. Along the way, hikers will pass by smaller cascades and streams, adding to the beauty of the hike. At the end of the trail, visitors will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Glen Falls. There are plenty of spots to take photos or simply sit and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. For those who want to extend their hike, there are additional trails that lead to other waterfalls in the vicinity. Glen Falls is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, so it can get busy during peak season. It's recommended to arrive early in the morning or during the weekday to avoid crowds. Glen Falls is a must-visit spot for anyone visiting the Highlands area.
3. Silver Run Falls
If you're looking for a swimming spot, Silver Run Falls is a short walk from the highway near Cashiers. This beautiful waterfall has a pool at the bottom that is perfect for swimming. The water is crystal clear and refreshing, making it a great spot to cool off on a hot summer day. The surrounding forest provides shade and a peaceful ambiance, making it a great spot for a picnic or a quiet afternoon of reading. Just be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water, as the hike back up to the highway can be quite steep and strenuous. Silver Run Falls is a hidden gem in the North Carolina mountains and a must-visit for anyone in the area.
4. Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls, located between Highlands and Dry Falls, is also a unique experience as you can walk behind the waterfall (although you can no longer drive behind it). Walking behind Bridal Veil Falls is a memorable experience for anyone who visits. The sound of the water crashing against the rocks below fills the air and the mist from the falls cools you down on a hot summer day. As you walk behind the waterfall, you'll feel like you're in a different world - the sound of the water is amplified and the view from behind is breathtaking. It's no wonder that Bridal Veil Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls to visit in the area. Just be sure to wear appropriate footwear as the rocks can be slippery and the mist from the falls can make the path wet.
5. Secret Falls
For a more remote waterfall experience, check out Secret Falls. This waterfall is located deep in the Nantahala Forest near Highlands and is accessed via a relatively easy hiking trail. The trail to Secret Falls is about 1.5 miles round-trip and is suitable for most hikers. The waterfall itself is about 50 feet tall and cascades down a beautiful rock face into a serene pool below. It's a great spot for a picnic or a refreshing dip on a hot summer day. While the trail can be crowded during peak season, it's still worth the visit for the stunning scenery and peaceful atmosphere. Don't forget to bring your camera to capture the beauty of Secret Falls!
6. Bust Your Butt Falls
Bust Your Butt Falls is a great spot for adventure lovers. The falls are situated along US Highway 64 and are also known as Quarry Falls or Bust-Yer-Butt Falls. The beautiful location offers visitors the opportunity to swim and slide in the chilly waters. One of the main attractions of this spot is the "jump off" rock. Daring visitors can climb up to the top and take a leap into the refreshing pool below. It is definitely an experience that thrill-seekers won't want to miss. Whether you're looking to cool off on a hot summer day or just want to have some fun, Bust Your Butt Falls is definitely worth a visit.
7. High Falls
If you're up for a challenge, hike the new trail at Lake Glenville to see High Falls (also known as Cullowhee Falls). This 150-ft. waterfall is stunning and on a few days each year, it becomes the most powerful waterfall in North Carolina when water is released from the upriver dam for kayakers. The new trail is approximately 1.5 miles long and is rated as moderate to difficult due to the steep incline. However, the hike is definitely worth it as you will be greeted with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Once you reach the falls, you can take a moment to bask in the beauty of the cascading water before making your way back down the trail. It's important to note that swimming in the pool at the base of the falls is prohibited due to the strong currents and dangerous undertow. However, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the area such as fishing, boating, and picnicking. So grab your hiking boots and head to Lake Glenville for an adventure you won't forget!
8. Cashiers Sliding Rock
For a more relaxed experience, check out Cashiers Sliding Rock. This natural waterslide is created by the Chattooga River and glides over a 10-ft. high rock face with a few large potholes. It's a popular local spot during the summer because the water is quite cool. Cashiers Sliding Rock is an excellent destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. The area is surrounded by lush green forest and is perfect for a family picnic or a day trip with friends. The rock slide is not too steep, so even younger children can enjoy the thrill of sliding down into the cool waters below. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try jumping off the rock face into the deep pool at the bottom. Just be sure to take proper safety precautions and check the water depth before taking the plunge. So, if you're looking for a fun and refreshing way to beat the summer heat, Cashiers Sliding Rock is definitely worth a visit.
9. Cullasaja Falls
Finally, don't miss Cullasaja Falls. This 250-ft. waterfall can be seen from the roadside on US Highway 64, but due to the location, there is only a small pull-off along the road. It's best to park when driving toward Highlands from Franklin so you are on the same side as the pull-off. There is no sign for Cullasaja Falls, so you need to drive slow and look for the pull-off.
Overall, the Highlands and Cashiers region of North Carolina offers a variety of stunning waterfalls and swimming spots that are perfect for families and friends to explore. With hiking trails, swimming holes, and unique experiences like walking behind waterfalls, there is something for everyone in this beautiful area.