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

Last of the Mohicans!!! Great trail for visitors. Beautiful sites and waterfalls to be seen. Great for a trail run.

I have completed this hike multiple times throughout my life, it’s a favorite of our camping group. Lots of memories here!

I would probably not rank this trail as Easy—it is a little more Moderate, in my opinion, but the falls were worth the hike. My only concern about this trail was finding a place to park. We had to park on the other side of the bridge, but there is really only enough room for one vehicle.

The rangers told us that this was a better trail then heading to see the “falls” surfing the winter. So glad we listened. Our Saint Bernard, Ginger; got so much love from everyone. We loved seeing all the families our hiking ! Perfectly marked and thanks for the stairs!

Awesome day hiking Rainbow Falls and Turtle Back today. Very cold temp dropping down to below 20 degrees; however, we managed to get some good shot(s) of the falls as well as the rainbow! Good times.

Fantastic dog friendly trail!

An easy and very short walk to the falls. The water was high today so getting to the base was a little crowded. You basically can slide down to a rock or walk out on a larger boulder earlier in the path. Pretty waterfall and seems it would be good for swimming in warmer months.

Huge waterfall, the largest East of the Rockies. Easy paved path to the falls top viewing and then nice stairs to the lower viewing deck . Not really a hike. It was very popular with children and families today. I only went down to the lower viewing deck bc you can’t see the falls if you go any further.

The trail is relatively short and not too challenging, and has a lot of great views of the waterfall, which was much bigger in person than I expected. Be sure to keep an eye out for trail offshoots that lead closer to the falls for even better views (we found one that put us literally right next to it).

3 days ago

Trail was technically closed but everyone was walking over the rope stopping you. Just one slippery spot going down, on a set of stairs, but all was good, there was a handrail to hold on too.

Wonderful place to go excercise and clear your head of life.

4 days ago

Strenuous hike with an excellent pay off!

Very good out and back trail. Trail is wide enough for a comfortable walk. Worth the hike to see the falls. Very impressive. Note: the trail head is behind the Episcopal Church. Just drive behind the church and you will see signs for “waterfall trail”.

Great moderate trail. Challenge due to the roots on the trail. Not recommended for trail runners, but there is a camp site made to hike out to. It’s relatively seclusive but a little busy on the weekends. Tail consists of various mediums from clay and mud to sand and dirt with some rocks here and there. Good hiking boots to avoid twisting an ankle.

4 days ago

As a Raleigh local, this is a great trail for a quick weekend or after-work hike. It can be combined with Potts Branch Trail to add another 1-1.5 miles. Nice views of Big Lake at roughly the midpoint.

Beautiful views of the water falls. Most of trail covered by trees. Extreme solitude. Multiple options for trail lengths. Rough and slippery terrain.

The address took me to a circle drive so I went looking for the park entrance. On the trail, I walked by the circle drive and someone had, indeed, parked there to start their hike. I didn't see the spot when I was in the circle. Hike was busy. About 20 kids hiding behind each tree at the park trailhead. Was funny to walk up on each one. I liked the creek/falls and the huge tree that is still standing but the top has fallen out of it. Easy waking. The little trail down to the cascades needs attention if you have children. It's basically straight down to the water and back up. Lots of roots, some muddy places but was able to get around quite easily.

Lots of switchbacks but still pretty steep. Fairly difficult but the view is worth it.

7 days ago

Pretty winter hike. Trees and shrubs at higher elevations were dusted with ice crystals. As others have said, the trail is quite steep and rocky for a little over two miles. After the turn to the Pinnacle the trail gets much easier and your legs get a nice break. Great views at the Pinnacle - be sure to follow the small trail through the underbrush to reach the Pinnacle at the very end. I had a Raven circling right over my head at the top, calling. The steep downhill on the way back takes a toll on your legs. I’d recommend extending trekking poles on the way back. If you’re finishing in the dark, like I did, be sure and take a headlamp. The rocks on the trail look like they’d make great ankle-turners.

7 days ago

This was a tough trail due to the incline going up. Lots of nice openings where you catch a glimpse of small town Sylva. Once you get to the “top” where you break off and go toward the pinnacle (1.4miles I believe) it’s cake. Every drop of sweat was worth it when you walk out of the clearing for the view. It was amazing. Brought my jet boil and had some lunch and tea and made my way down. It was cold (35) but that was nice while hiking up. Definitely doing it again in the spring!

7 days ago

starts off easy but gets steep in a hurry. one of my go to trails for an afternoon hike. the views at the rocks on the ridge top are awesome. on clear days table rock and hawk's bill in the linville gorge can be seen to the east

I live close and use this trail often. perfect for short strenuous trail runs. good mix of steady up hill to steep switchbacks. and the view near the top isn't bad. plus two waterfalls

10 days ago

Kinda sketchy drive to the waterfall but totally worth it. This is an easy and short trail. Was completely empty when we visited. The view is espectacular and you might be tempted to jump off the water fall. Please do not do that read the signs there have been fatal accidents at this location. Enjoy the view enjoy the sounds that should be enough !!

good for kids would be great in summer

Great family hike. Good for kids and well maintained trail.

Beautiful and oh, so crowded because of it. Being able to walk behind the falls made me feel like I was back in Oregon. Right off the road. Sidewalks and some stairs, all the way to the falls, then there is a little gate where you can walk behind the falls.

I did this trail in January. It was 7 miles for me. The National Forest Road was closed (because of the shutdown I guess) so I parked off of 215 and hiked up the park road. It was a nice hike and beautiful out so I’m actually glad I couldn’t drive it. There are some inclines near the end, if you hike the road but they aren’t bad. Bring water and snacks and spend some time at the falls before you head back if you do the 7 miles. If you do drive, the road is well maintained. I don’t think there is any reason a standard car couldn’t get up the road, maybe if there was snow perhaps it would be harder. There were lots of limbs in the road when I went however. The falls were a little harder to find. The guy below who mentions the trailhead after the 4th bridge is correct. It’s harder to miss if you’re hiking, but if you’re driving, keep an eye out for the 4th bridge. The app gave me directions down to the falls which was super steep and didn’t look safe. It appears there are a few ways down to the falls people have attempted from the trails they have left. The safest way, continue on the trail, following the red marks on the trees. At the tree with the 2 red painted marks (they look like a pause button) there is a small trail to the left that leads you down to the falls, over an old, worn, short wooden boardwalk that leads to the steps people have mentioned. I didn’t think it was steep at all but I hike often. I attempted one of the other ways down I saw initially, but abandoned it bc it was way too steep to do alone. The trail by the red marks is way safer and obviously the way I was supposed to go. You’re going to see the falls and think it’s time to descend but keep going just a little farther until you see the red marks and go down and backtrack just a little to the falls. The falls are gorgeous! Also, I met a couple of other hikers who had come across a few harmless snakes on their hike in through the Cove trail. Yes, snakes in January.

I did this trail in December and mostly had it to myself on a rare sunny day in the middle of the week. The falls are huge and breathtaking. The trail is well maintained with some small inclines. There was a little ice on the inclines when I went which made it a little slippery in spots but not bad. The stairs down to the falls are worth the effort. A good short little hike and workout.

I did this little trail in December before the snowstorm forced its closure. It’s a nice, easy trail and great place to enjoy the fresh air and just get outside. The boardwalks would make a great scene for a photo shoot in the fall. There were remnants of fall color when I went and I bet it’s stunning in the peak of fall. The falls are small and several people have attempted to climb them and fallen off and died...

Beautiful falls but very crowded at times. It’s right off the road and you can pull over and see the falls without even walking down. I’ve been once and had no one around. I got lucky I guess! Beautiful places are popular for a reason though.

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