Upper Whitewater Falls Trail [CLOSED]

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Nantahala National Forest

Upper Whitewater Falls Trail is a 1.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sapphire, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 1.6 miles Elevation Gain: 551 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

stroller friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

paved

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

closed

Users have reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. Partially paved trail to an overlook and on to Whitewater River.

hiking
1 month ago

Went today and the parking area that the directions on this app takes you to was closed due to COVID-19. However, you can still get to the falls! We had to park at the gravel lot off the side of the road that was right before the blocked off entrance to the parking. Be careful though - we had somebody come and knock my car window out while we were hiking. There were probably 10 other cars parked there when we first arrived and 3 of them (including me) got their windows knocked out. I’d recommend maybe leaving your car door unlocked while you’re hiking if you’re worried about it. Make sure nothing is valuable in your car! Overall, the falls are beautiful and the trail we took was a fun trail!

3 months ago

What is the distance of the hike from Whitewater Falls viewing area along the Foothills Trail to the Bad Creek parking area?

hiking
3 months ago

Super easy and beautiful. Can view falls with a short hike.

hiking
5 months ago

This rating of easy should not apply to any portion beyond that of the water fall overlook at the bottom of the staircase. Everything beyond that should be classified as a true moderate. This trail length is 1.5 miles out. Really enjoyed the bottom of the trail!

hiking
5 months ago

Love this trail. Hike was a lot of fun through some very nice wooded areas. Lots of shade with great views of the falls on the way down. Ends at Whitewater River at the bottom. Something to note though. This trail, in my opinion, is NOT an easy trail. It’s a very nice hike and fun to do, but I would classify it as moderate. We tried to take my in laws (who are in their mid-60s) and they gave up less than 1/8 of the way in. Too steep and too rocky for them. So just FYI if you are looking for an easy family hike. I would just be aware when taking novice or older/younger people with you.

hiking
5 months ago

Must be my sense of direction, but once I left the overlook for the falls I was no longer on the trail per my map. After descending the additional 20 or so steps came upon a sign back to the road, Table Rock or Falls Trail. Neither direction looked inviting to me so I headed back

hiking
5 months ago

Easy walk and beautiful view of the waterfall.

hiking
7 months ago

Super easy, family friendly. Stunning view of a huge waterfall.

awesome waterfall. wish you could get closer.

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

hiking
bugs
rocky
8 months ago

So I didn’t exactly take the marked trail. I took the foothills trial to the right to make a loop back to the parking lot. I don’t like to go on and out if I don’t have to. It was a good trail that was a bit over grown, very rocky and had lots of tree roots to walk on. I did have to crawl over a downed tree and there were some steep rocks to get down. But all in all, I’d do it again instead of climbing the 150 steps to get out.

hiking
9 months ago

Me and a buddy recently went on this trail! It’s a great spot for good sights and is very clean and easy! The path to get on top of the waterfall is nothing but amazing!

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

The trail to the first observation area is easy (and that must be the 0.60 mi Upper Whitewater Falls Overlook Trail.) The second observation area involves about 150 steps; and, one fellow on the trail said it was a great glute work out and compared it to a Stair Master. I totally agree! It required endurance; and, I think it would be reasonable to say that was moderate. At the end of the second observation point is a foothills trail. We started down the foothills trail to the river (also moderate), got most of the way... then... yellow jackets. Different groups were reporting multiple stings so we turned around. The yellow jackets were definitely stirred up. Great. Big. Bummer. I would like to go back sans yellow jackets!

hiking
9 months ago

was here 9-18-17 and i don't know how can anybody give less thank 5 stars. i don't care if this was the worst trail ever. how often do you get to see a cascading waterfall that crosses a boarder, that is 1700 ft between the upper and lower falls. in my book thats a 10 star rating.

hiking
9 months ago

What a lovely waterfall and only a short 1/2 mile hike on a paved surface; this will take you to the top view of the falls. Plenty of parking but bring $3 with you; park fee. Take the steps to a wonderful viewing area of the rest of the Falls; fabulous views.

hiking
10 months ago

Nice short trail to a spectacular waterfall. Took a 4 year old and he was fine. Wished we had taken the Foothills Trail down to the lower falls but didn’t realize that was an option or that it was only 20 minutes away. Maybe next time. There is a fee to park. Lots of people there but plenty of parking.

walking
10 months ago

Note about Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls: Comments & photos for Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls trails are being posted to wrong listings. Also, at least one duplicate trail listing. Upper Whitewater Falls parking lot: Options from same Trailhead. Access from parking lot off of SR 281. Maintained by www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nfsnc. 1) "Upper Whitewater Falls" 1.6 mile. Partially paved trail to an overlook. 2) "Whitewater Falls" 1.5 miles. Same waterfall hike/walk as above. Duplicate listing. Notice many comments about this trail being posted to other trails listed below. 3) "Foothills Trail: Whitewater River" 4.7 miles. Same trailhead as above. You are hiking down to the river, and then walk along river, to trail intersection. You can continue on to Lower Whitewater Falls or hike .6 miles to the Lower Whitewater Falls trailhead located at Duke Power parking lot off of Bad Creek Rd. 4) "Lower Whitewater Falls Via Foothills Trail" 7.6 miles. Same trailhead as above. Visiting both overlooks; the Upper Whitewater Falls and Lower Whitewater Falls. Lower Whitewater Falls parking lot: Trailhead access from parking lot off of Bad Creek Rd. Maintained by Duke Energy Co. 1) "Lower Whitewater Falls": 4.2 miles. 2) "Bad Creek Trailhead to Upper Whitewater Falls" 6.2 miles. You are hiking up to the Upper Falls overlook. Most of this trail is flat and runs along the river. The last portion of the trail, to the Upper Whitewater Falls overlook, is very steep. Warning: snakes. We encountered a snake on the trail just below the Upper Whitewater Falls overlook.

hiking
10 months ago

Nice, easy, paved hike. Can be done with all skill levels. Short hike but the view is amazing!

hiking
11 months ago

Nice view of waterfall from short, paved trail. Take approximately 150 steps down to observation deck for another great view. Easy hike.

hiking
rocky
11 months ago

lots of elevation change. not for those with poor aerobic health

hiking
11 months ago

additionally: there is a small foot trail all the way to the top of the waterfall if you go around the brown fence at the overlook that’s meant to keep out cars. Be extremely careful around slippery rocks as deaths have occurred here.

hiking
11 months ago

Easy trail and lots to explore

hiking
11 months ago

Some steps involved. Gorgeous view and only 5 minutes to reach down the paved path.

hiking
Sun Jun 02 2019

The trail to the first observation area is easy. The second observation area involves about 150 steps. Then it’s worth it to continue down to the river, though I would say it’s a tough descent, but I’m 55 yrs old. I think it was about 8/10 mile to the bottom from the second observation area. There is a $3 day use fee to park.

hiking
Tue May 21 2019

The falls were beautiful!! It’s unfortunate you can’t hike closer so that was disappointing. The short walk to the observation deck was easy; but if you choose to take the hike the long way back to the parking lot be aware the Foothills Trail is definitely a moderate hike and would be difficult for children and the elderly. The stairs in the trail are very steep as well. Overall, It’s a beautiful view just wish you could get closer to experience the falls up close.

Sun Apr 28 2019

This is just a walk to the overlook. It’s not a hike. The falls is impressive though

hiking
blowdown
Sat Apr 27 2019

We hiked from the trail below the restrooms at the parking area out almost 8 miles to the new Coley Creek Campsite. A more challenging hike with a full pack than we expected. Had hoped to make it to Bear Creek. But Foothills Trail never fails to be a great hike!

hiking
Sat Apr 20 2019

Fun easy little trail with a awesome waterfall

hiking
Sat Apr 20 2019

This is a tourist destination, not a hike. The view of the waterfall is magnificent, but that’s as far as you need to go on the “trail”. Beyond the viewing around about 0.3 miles in, there isn’t a view of the falls. There is even a sign there saying as much. Worth a few minutes of a stop if you are traveling through.

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