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Guide to Western North Carolina Waterfalls

Waterfalls are some of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the world and western North Carolina is teeming with them. When you rent a cabin through stayNantahala, you're close to many of the best waterfalls in North Carolina. Our guide to western North Carolina waterfalls will give you an excuse to explore the beauty of the Nantahala National Forest and beyond.

Rufus Morgan Falls

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 12.5 miles

Spend some great time with your family by embarking on a one-mile hike to Rufus Morgan Falls. The 60-foot waterfall sits at the halfway point of a one-mile loop into the Nantahala National Forest. Keep in mind Forest Road 388 is seasonal with closures usually in the early part of the year. Regardless, this Nantahala waterfall is well worth the trip with your family.

Nantahala Cascades

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 13 miles

While not an official waterfall, Nantahala Cascades features a series of cascades along the Nantahala River on the way to the lake. You can Follow Wayah Road from the turnoff of U.S. 19/74 as it runs alongside the river. There are some spots to pull off the road to get a better view of the cascades. During the summer, you may see kayakers traversing these cascades. 

Big Laurel and Mooney Falls

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 33.8 miles

These two waterfalls are close together and require minimal hiking to enjoy. Big Laurel Falls requires a half-mile trip to them while Mooney Falls is a quarter mile from the road. Big Laurel is about 25 feet high while Mooney is smaller. A common visit includes grouping these two Nantahala waterfalls with Rufus Morgan Falls for a half-day or full day activity.

Dry Falls

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 36.7 miles

Dry Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in North Carolina. This 75-foot cascade runs over a cliff, meaning you can walk behind the waterfall and remain dry though a heavier flow may cause some spray. This waterfall is fully accessible and only requires a short walk from the parking area. There are plenty of vantage points to properly behold this waterfall.

Bridal Veil Falls

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 37.5 miles

Bridal Veil Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in western North Carolina. It sits just off U.S. Highway 64 and a path goes right behind the waterfall. Originally, drivers went behind the waterfall but natural problems forced a reroute. Most of the time, this waterfall is accessible for visitors to stand behind. Recent rainfall and winter runoff can lead to a heavier waterflow.

Glen Falls

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 42.7 miles

This waterfall actually has three sections with four spots to view it. If you're looking for the most scenic sections, check out the upper and middle cascades. You can access all sections via a hike. The upper section features a 70-foot drop while the middle section is a 60-foot drop. The lower section drops 15 feet. This is a great way to experience the western North Carolina outdoors.

Secret Falls

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 46.3 miles

Not only is this waterfall in a secluded section of the Nantahala National Forest, but it is also idyllic. Secret Falls stands at 50 feet and empties into a swimming hole perfect for a summer afternoon. Reaching the falls requires an easy half-mile trek, meaning you can take the whole family to visit this waterfall. Come enjoy the secluded beauty of the Nantahala National Forest.
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Silver Run Falls

  • Distance from Nantahala Lake: 52.5 miles

Silver Run Falls is another Western North Carolina waterfall that empties into a pool. It stands at 25 feet and its pool is one of the popular swimming spots among the locals. There is also a beach area so this waterfall is a great place for the entire family. Consider visiting Silver Run in the winter for some gorgeous ice formation, making it one of the best waterfalls in North Carolina.

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