Are you looking for some of the best Asheville waterfalls to hike? As Asheville locals, we promise to share our favorite waterfalls near Asheville, NC, all of which are under a 2-hour drive from the city.
One of my favorite parts about living in Asheville and the mountains are the waterfalls. When we moved to North Carolina, I had no idea that there were so many waterfall hikes near Asheville.
I always imagined the trails and beautiful fall foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway. But for some reason, I associated waterfalls as something we see abroad, like in Central and South America. We did get engaged near Iguazu, after all.
However, Transylvania County is known as the “Land of Waterfalls.” Over 200+ waterfalls span Western North Carolina. Asheville (NC Micropolitan Statistical Area) and Brevard fall into some of these areas.
Our very first experience hiking the Asheville, NC waterfalls, we headed to DuPont State Forest for The Hunger Games falls. One of my favorite Asheville waterfall hikes still, you can see where Peeta and Katniss hid at Triple Falls.
Visitors can also hike to High Falls, Hooker Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls all in one visit. You’ll love the stunning grounds, perfect for a picnic, too.
So, what are some of the best waterfalls near Asheville? I wouldn’t skip Rainbow Falls, Catawba Falls, Crabtree Falls, Moore Cove Falls, Mingo Falls, or Looking Glass Falls.
Graveyard Fields is home to two stunning waterfalls in the fall. Tourists and locals love to swim in Skinny Dip Falls.
Below find gorgeous Asheville waterfalls, including waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway, waterfalls you can easily hike, and also one or two sets of falls that you can drive up to. P.S. The Pisgah National Forest is full of cascading waterfalls, too.
We’ll talk distance from Asheville, where to park, and what to pack as well as expect. Let’s get started exploring the best waterfall trails around Asheville.
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One of the prettiest waterfall hikes near Asheville, Catawba Falls promises tall and stunning falls as well as a trail perfect for families, dog walkers, and hikers looking for an easy to moderate trek.
Catawba Falls is only about a 30-minute drive from Asheville and is one of our all-time favorite Asheville waterfall hikes.
This part of the Pisgah National Forest is gorgeous. You'll find moss, lichen, and cascading falls.
A wide and moderately easy trail paired with the massive falls and bubbling water makes Catawba an extremely popular waterfall hike near Asheville.
Be forewarned that on the weekends, the parking lot fills up quickly and visitors crowd the trails.
We prefer to visit Catawba during the weekday. The Catawba Trails hike is also great if you have dogs or children.
With 100-foot tall falls, hikers trek a little under 1.5 miles to reach their final destination before backtracking to the lot.
You'll barely notice that you've walked around 2.7-miles round trip, though, as you'll cross a scenic bridge and have waterfalls and jumping stones to endlessly distract you.
You can sit on the boulders or dip into the water, but please also know that the water is fast-moving and the rocks get slippery.
The address for Catawba Falls is 3074 Catawba River Rd, Old Fort, NC 28762.
You can plug 'Catawba Falls' into GPS and not have to worry about those directions being wrong -- like so many other trails and waterfalls near Asheville.
We live here, and we still get confused sometimes. From Asheville, you will travel down 1-40 East and take Exit 73 toward Old Fort. You'll then take a right onto Catawba River Road.
The next four waterfalls near Asheville, NC are located at DuPont State Recreational Forest, about 45-minutes+ from downtown.
Visiting this area is free, including parking, and many lots have restrooms and fountains.
Find picnic areas, and dogs on leashes are allowed in most places. These are some of the best waterfalls near Asheville for the entire family.
Please know that if the parking lots fill up, you cannot park along the road. Signs everywhere will remind you of this.
If you want to hike all of the DuPont State Recreational Forest falls while visiting, I'd start with Hooker Falls, loop back up to Triple Falls, which is about 1-mile away, and then hike to High Falls, another half-mile+.
It's a three-mile plus round trip hike to see these three waterfalls. You may also continue on to Bridal Veil Falls from the covered bridge, but add in an additional 4.4 miles.
If you are looking for short and easy waterfall hikes near Asheville, Hooker Falls is perfect. You can even take a small dip in the pool at the bottom.
Hooker Falls is one of the waterfalls near Asheville, NC that you can practically drive up to.
You'll want to park in the upper-level lot at DuPont known as the Hooker Falls Access Area. From this lot, Hooker Falls is under a .25-mile hike. This parking lot also has restrooms and water fountains.
Hooker Falls is the fourth waterfall on the Little River and is only about 12-feet high. At the bottom of the falls, you can hang out on the rocks or take a dip in the huge pool.
Hooker Falls is also deemed as the only safe spot at DuPont for swimming because there is no current. Of course, please read all of the posted signs in case this changes and always exert caution.
How To Get To Hooker Falls
You can type 'Hooker Falls Access Area' into navigation. Located in Brevard, from Asheville, you'll take I-26 East to Exit 40. There are a series of twists and turns that will take you down 280 to U.S. 64.
Please note that coming back from this area you might not have cellphone service.
We advise knowing your next destination in advance and how to make your way back out of the mountains until it picks up again.
One of the best waterfalls near Asheville, Bridal Veil Falls at DuPont State Recreational Forest is home to many filming locations.
Like Triple Falls, Bridal Veil Falls is another filming location for The Hunger Games. They also filmed part of Last of the Mohicans here.
If you love mountain biking, the 2.2-mile gravel road is perfect with a gorgeous endpoint at the falls.
Please also know that there are two Bridal Veil Falls in North Carolina. The other falls are located in the Nantahala National Forest in Highlands, and you can literally drive under them.
You can access Bridal Veil Falls by parking at Hooker Falls and hiking all three falls (Hooker, Triple, and High) before heading up to the covered bridge and over to Bridal Veil. This hike will be around 7-miles+.
Or, you can park at the Visitor Center and walk the 4.4-miles round trip just to Bridal Veil Falls.
We've never parked at Fawn Lake, but that's also an option for Bridal Veil Falls, especially during a busy tourist season.
Full disclosure: Bridal Veil Falls -- to me -- is a slightly boring 'hike.' You follow 2+-miles of gravel road; it's not always scenic or entertaining.
For Asheville waterfalls, Bridal Veil Falls looks like a slide. Unlike Sliding Rock, though, you cannot slide down or climb up them.
Bridal Veil Falls is also a fabulous picnic spot. You can hang out on a lower-level rock -- just heed all signs -- which I highly recommend.
Relax by the 120-foot waterfall, and don't miss the observation deck from further away.
While Dupont State Recreational Forest is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, Bridal Veil Falls is usually slightly less crowded.
Moore Cove Falls is one of the best waterfalls near Asheville for families. You can head to Looking Glass Falls first.
Drive about 3/4 of a mile past Looking Glass Falls for the parking area to Moore Cove Falls. Parking will fill up quickly in the summer and on weekends. We like to visit this waterfall in late winter on a weekday.
The Moore Cove Falls waterfall hike is about .7 miles each way as an out and back.
The trail may grow muddy but is typically known for being easier for families and older hikers. You'll cross wooden bridges on a mostly well-maintained trail.
At the end of the hike, uncover a 50-foot waterfall. If you are lucky, you'll catch a rainbow in the mist.
How To Find Moore Cove Falls
Moore Cove Falls is just past Looking Glass Falls. From Asheville, you will follow 1-240 West to I-26 East to Exit 40.
You'll take a right on 240 West and then a right on U.S. Highway 276 North. The falls are about a 55-minute drive from downtown Asheville in Brevard.
Douglas Falls is one of those waterfalls near Asheville - a little under an hour and 15 mins - that you can either cheat on by driving close to or hike from Craggy Gardens. We've started the Craggy Gardens hike before.
You can pick up the trail from the Visitor Center or even the Craggy Gardens Picnic area.
However, this is a 7 to 10-mile, extremely challenging hike that gets pretty muddy, tricky, and overgrown. Unless you are an experienced hiker -- I am not -- I don't recommend it.
Your other option, which is our first choice, is to drive up the winding gravel road of Forest Service Road 74.
From here, it's a moderate and extremely slippery-when-wet half-mile hike downhill to the falls from the official trailhead. With gate closures over recent years, expect to walk up 1.1-miles up the road from Laurel Gap Parking.
This Asheville waterfall hike is an out-and-back.
You can walk under the gorgeous 70-foot falls and walk around them. You may also continue the hike to Craggy Gardens or Greybeard Overlook.
How To Access Douglas Falls
You'll take 19-23 North to Barnardsville and then NC Highway 197.
When you take a right onto Dillingham Road, you'll enter this scenic town that is beautifully ensconced in the blue mountains, passing cows, farmland, and horses.
This road ends in the Pisgah National Forest hitting FS74, which is not for the weak.
At times, the edge of the cliff is right there. This is most of your ride as you have to drive slowly.
Passing is difficult but possible in many areas of FS74, and watch for surprise rocks and holes.
Walker Falls is about 4-miles in and then you will drive until the gate closure at Laurel Gap.
For Asheville waterfalls, don't miss the one at Biltmore Estate, which is part of a dam.
Located at Bass Pond, you can pick up multiple trails to see this waterfall. You will need a ticket/pass to enter Biltmore Estate.
You can either start at the Azalea Garden Trail (1-mile each way) or take the Deerpark Trail, which is around 3.5 miles.
For the Deerpark Trail, before you turn toward the Biltmore Home, go through the gate in the fence, hook a left on the path, and then turn at your first right, which will bring you to beautiful Bass Pond.
Biltmore Estate Address
The address for Biltmore Estate is 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803. We like to park at the Lagoon.
Aloft – Downtown Asheville – If you are looking to stay in downtown Asheville, the Aloft hotel is newly renovated as of 2020. Vibrant local murals, updated rooms, and sprawling public areas greet visitors. Did I mention there is a rooftop pool overlooking the mountains?
Hampton Inn And Suites Asheville Biltmore Area – Although this hotel is on busy Brevard Road – NC-191 – across from the Asheville Outlets, it’s one of our favorites. Clean, updated, and in the middle of everything, you can access downtown, Biltmore, and any of these waterfalls near Asheville fairly quickly.
1898 Waverly Inn Bed and Breakfast — While house hunting, we stayed at this sweet B&B in Hendersonville, NC (35-40 mins from Asheville and close to the DuPont State Forest waterfalls). Hendersonville is its own hip little town.
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What To Bring For A Day At The Asheville, NC Waterfalls
Although none of these Asheville waterfall hikes are too intense, you’ll definitely want to arrive prepared. A few quick and easy items for a successful trip include:
Garmin Handheld GPS Navigator – We no longer hike without our Garmin and a subscription to GAIA. Some of these waterfall hikes, especially in the Pisgah National Forest, are more challenging. It’s easy to get lost, and you might not always have cell service.
Hiking Backpack – I love my backpack made by Eddie Bauer — I have a slightly different version than this one. My backpack is lightweight and breathable. I can carry my keys, a light jacket (because this is the mountains, after all), water, sunscreen, bug spray, lighter, headlamp, whistle, snacks, Garmin, and an umbrella.
Stainless Steel Water Bottle – We are moderate hikers so we don’t use anything fancy like water bladders. I like my stainless steel water bottle since it holds the temperature, doesn’t perspire, and contains no harmful by-products. Plus, it’s easy to clean.
First Aid Kit – After quickly remembering that I am a tragic mess when hiking and traveling (I will always cut myself), I would either make your own or pack some sort of First Aid Kit with the basics.
Don’t Forget To Save These Asheville Waterfall Hikes & Trails For Later
What Are Your Favorite Waterfalls Near Asheville?
Do you have favorite waterfall hikes near Asheville that you enjoy? Have you hiked any of these Asheville waterfalls before? Are you visiting Asheville and have questions? Please let us know in the comments.
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Toxaway Falls is gorgeous on Hwy. 64 W going towards Cashiers
Tuesday 10th of November 2020
Thanks for the recommendation!
Thursday 20th of August 2020
I'm headed that way with my wife and a few other couples this Fall. I'm looking forward to the Hunger Games fall and a couple further away. I'll let you know which ones are everyone's favorites when we get back! Take care and thank you for the info!
Thursday 20th of August 2020
The fall is absolutely beautiful here. You guys will love it. I hope you have a wonderful trip! Thank you so much.
Macey @ Brine & Books
Monday 27th of July 2020
I adore these pictures, wow. They remind me of Mt. Hermon, the place my family goes to during November, but with waaayyyy more waterfalls than just the one :') These hikes look g l o r i o u s. I would probably have to stop so many times to take a picture, write something about what's in front of me, and/or just drink it all in for a couple of moments. You're so lucky that this is essentially your backyard!
Monday 27th of July 2020
Aw, thank you Macey! I really need to learn how to take a *professional* waterfall picture with the correct settings. One day! These Asheville waterfall hikes are just what I need right now during this pandemic -- and they are a great way to stay socially distanced, too. It's been a LONG year. We feel very lucky to have so much nature around us. Hiking is the absolute best here. I hope you have a wonderful week and are enjoying the summer. I'll have to look up Mt. Hermon!