5 Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfalls to See
The Blue Ridge Parkway is easily one of the most scenic drives in the country. With over 400 miles (469 to be exact) to explore, you will find pretty much endless opportunities for sightseeing. Waterfalls are particularly exhilarating to see in person. The Pisgah region (MP 339.5 – 469.1) and the Highlands Region (MP 216.9-339) are especially concentrated with waterfalls. Both of these Parkway sections are within close proximity to Asheville, Hendersonville, and Brevard, making a daytrip easily incorporable into vacation plans. Below are 5 stunning waterfalls located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive.”
Note that all of these featured waterfalls are located directly on the Parkway. A quick detour off the Parkway will lead you to many other waterfall wonders.
This easily accessible waterfall is amongst the most popular tourist stops on the Parkway. The quarter of a mile hike to get to the waterfall only takes 10-15 minutes (although it does involve some staircase climbing). Tourists arrive in droves during the colorful fall season to enjoy the beautiful foliage. Few sights are so enchanting as a waterfall surrounded by the hues of autumn. If you can time your visit just right, the leaf peeping is amazing. Not a hiker? The views at the Graveyard Fields overlook alone are gorgeous enough to warrant a visit, and really a simple drive along The Parkway is a wonderful activity in and of itself.
This moderately challenging hike to a wonderful multi layered 90 foot tall waterfall is quite unique as you will get to enjoy the waterfall and Linville Gorge (one of only 2 wilderness gorge areas in the Southern US) via 4 overlooks. The entire hike is 1.5 miles (round-trip) and fairly steep yet not too arduous. Thus, this waterfall hike is amongst the best bang-for-your-buck options on the Parkway considering the mesmerizing scenery. Tip: If you are seeking something a bit more relaxing, consider hiking just to the first overlook (about a half mile in) to enjoy a wonderful view of the upper falls.
This exhilarating 70 foot waterfall is by far the most impressive of those featured on this list. Two moderate routes lead to this wonder of nature (a 1.8 mile out-and-back hike which is a bit easier and a 3 mile loop which requires a bit of a climb). The waterfall was named after the pink crabtree wildflower blossoms which bloom each spring. The hike itself is gorgeous and challenging enough where you will get in a great gym-free workout, no matter which route your pick. If you are looking to get lost in nature, this hike is surely a contender for best on the parkway. If possible, plan your visit during the peak of fall and you will get to enjoy some of the Parkway’s best leaf peeping.
If visiting Graveyard Fields, you can extend your hike by completing the full loop. The hike to beautiful Lower Falls alone is best for those who prefer a quick trip into nature. On the other hand, the moderately challenging 3.5 mile loop trail is long and a bit difficult, and thus, a good option for anyone who wants to get in an invigorating workout. The scenery is pretty, although not overly stunning. The waterfall can be a hit or miss depending on the season – hiking after a strong rainfall would be your best bet! The Graveyard Loop is another wonderful leaf peeping destination and also popular for summer blueberry picking.
If you are looking to enjoy a waterfall with absolutely no hiking required, then Glassmine Falls is the one to put on your bucket list. While this one is easily accessible, it’s also quite hard to see unless visiting following a heavy storm. Unfortunately, you are looking at this waterfall from quite a far distance, however, the beautiful trees surrounding the falls still make for a wonderful viewpoint. Also in the region is the Craggy Gardens overlook which receives hoards of tourists in June to see the colorful rhododendrons. Also look into the beautiful Craggy Pinnacle trail, a short but steep hike which provides 360 degree vistas of the Craggy Mountains.
More waterfalls located just off the Parkway
The waterfalls featured below are all located within a 10 mile detour off the Parkway
Catawba Falls – Moderate 3 mile RT hike to a gorgeous 100 foot multi layered waterfall. Gorgeous in the fall! Address: 3074 Catawba River Rd, Old Fort, NC
Tom’s Creek Falls – Secluded woody hike to a 100 foot double tiered waterfall. Very quiet and gorgeous. Small specks of mica can still be seen from the old mine. Address: 1250 Huskins Branch Rd Marion, NC
Roaring Creek Falls – Easy 2 mile detour to a spectacular cascading 100 foot waterfall. Features an easy flat forest road to get to the falls. Light traffic. Address: 208 Busick Work Center Rd, Burnsville, NC
Soco Falls – Beautiful roadside waterfall located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. Hike a 5 minute trail for a better view of this mesmerizing double waterfall. Address: US-19, Maggie Valley, NC