Explore the most popular waterfall trails in Nantahala National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

took a logging road to reach the falls, hard to find. rock fall made the falls small and hard to see.

Gorgeous river and waterfalls. Great swimming holes at the base of the initial decent. However this trail does not allow camping due to whitewater corridor protection (the reason for the 3 star rating). However we hiked to Thompson river, 2.7 miles past the turnaround. This was a spectacular 4 star hike. Next time we will start at Bad creek parking to get to Thompson river. (A lot of ticks in June!)

Nice view at the pulpit but very hot there so we did not stay long. Brought our two dogs. Plenty of water along the way for them to sip & cool down. Our 15 year old who is not an avid hiker enjoyed this hike.

hiking
8 days ago

Beautiful short hike ending at the waterfall! So many ferns and got to see a bunch of salamanders at the base of the falls. We wish we would have brought our lunch out there to eat and spend more time by the waterfall.

Easy trail but beautiful scenery with a gorgeous waterfall

Really awesome hike! Falls are incredible! Highly recommended!

walking
10 days ago

An easy walk to a very scenic waterfall. I want to take my grandkids.

hiking
10 days ago

I have hiked this trail a few times and almost any trail that has a waterfall at the end gets a great rating from me. I went past the base of the falls as another reviewer posted but once upon the downed trees and such turned around. It is uphill all the way back and there are a lot of tree roots underfoot so watch your step. Have seen people doing it in flip flops. Crazy!

If the trail is marked and a parking area exists, we could not find them. We parked in a nearby camping site right by the hairpin curve that was empty. We then walked down the gravel road a few hundred yards and luckily found a rarely traveled foot path leading straight down to the falls. We found it based on the roar of the falls as we started the decent pretty much right above the falls. At the end it was pretty hairy to navigate the brush, but my family of 4 made it. I would not recommend the trail we used for kids younger than 8 or 10, and even then only if they are fit and adventurous. We all have plenty of scrapes. That said, the falls are really great and I’ll definitely go back (although my wife won’t). There may be an actual trail to find, but even the small goat path we used works. Be sure to watch where you exit at the falls and so you can find the path when you want to ascend back up. Tons of brush and we got off in the wrong direction and had to backtrack just a bit to get on the right path. Stunning scenery though.

We did this after hiking Scaly Mountain so my review maybe slightly flawed by the fact that my kids had had enough by this point.
Overall, it's a nice hike but I was a little irritated that I continued on the trail past the pool at the bottom for another half a mile, climbing over downed trees, only to be told by a group coming in the opposite direction that there was nothing down there except a campground. Don't hike past the post that has the word "falls" etched into it.

Great hike awesome falls!

Beautiful falls! Great hike.

Marvelous
We hiked this trail days after a tremendous amount of rain fell in the area. There were several stream crossings but easily passable. Rainbow Falls was simply amazing with the enormous amount of water passing over the ledge. The spray from the falls was so thick I may as well been standing under the falls. Turtleback Falls is another can't miss. The trail is well maintained and the surroundings are unsurprisingly beautiful. Just go.

Beautiful view of tallest falls in North America

hiking
23 days ago

My husband and I very much enjoyed this trail. It was as easy to navigate and the markers along the way were very educational. It was pouring rain when we went but the falls are definitely worth the hike (even in the rain).

We have been here a few times now. We took our newborn in the stroller last time. The paved trail is perfect for this. Great views!

I love this trail. It’s downhill for the trip back & then all uphill for the hike back. But it’s good for an afternoon hike or a hike when you don’t have all day to hike.

This is a wonderful trail and hike. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk through the woods with all the interpretive markers educating us about different plants along the way: amongst other things. We did not see another hiker on the trail, but that may be because it was pouring rain. The trail is definitely muddy and slippery, but that did not create any problems for us (hiking sticks are an asset).

hiking
26 days ago

We absolutely loved it. beautiful waterfall. We brought my wife's 65 year old father and he handled it well. a few steep parts but overall very easy for the young and fit. well worth it!

Great little loop with amazing falls half way through. Because of the rain the trail was wet, muddy, and parts were slippery, also watch your step with roots sticking out of the ground. The falls were really beautiful and really healthy, again because of the rain.

It had been raining a few days so naturally the trail was wet and muddy. Very green, lots of trees and vegitaion, it was a beautiful hike. The falls are pretty sweet.

Great hike! Other than a few rattlesnakes it was spectacular!

An incredible hike with an incredible view! Being from South Florida, the elevation was quite difficult to adjust to but the view was definitely worth it! Also totally recommend hiking up to slide down turtle back falls.

My husband and I drove to this trail today. We paid the $5 fee at the entrance, drove another 20 yards and then encountered a sign that said ALL TRAILS CLOSED. Would have be nice if the put the sign before the spot where you pay to enter.

Super fun trail, with great views if you enjoy waterfalls, and natural streams! It had a good amount of hills to walk up so be advised young children (under like 6) could get tuckered out on the hike back. Overall 4 mile round trip.

Very steep in some areas with 3 young kids and 2 dogs but not busy at all and great hike.

Went a while back really enjoyed! A lot of people!

nature trips
1 month ago

Short and easy access to the falls, You can see the falls from the parking area.

Short walk to the falls. Incredible spot to dip your toes in the water, feel the earth's energy, unwind, dream and be one with nature!

Mostly uphill. Trails are not clearly marked so it's easy to get confused. Trail had lots of tree stumps and rocks. Great bathing area for dogs and kids once you get to the Schoolhouse Waterfall.
Not a huge summit but a great place to hike to just for the view.

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