Pretty Hiking Waterfalls Near Asheville Under 1.5 Hours Away

From famous movie film locations to the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway and surprise rainbows, lace up those boots to chase the best waterfalls near Asheville. As locals, these are the hikes we frequent to relax, picnic, and exercise in the great outdoors.

family of 4 in front of Triple Falls waterfall at DuPontPin

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Nicknamed the “Land of Waterfalls,” Transylvania County is home to 200+ waterfalls across Western North Carolina. As avid hikers, these are just a few of our favorite waterfall trails. Afterward, be sure to check out our top picks for Asheville trails across lengths and levels.

DuPont State Forest: 3-Waterfalls Hike

  • Length: 3 miles, round trip
  • Difficulty Level: Relatively moderate
  • Type Of Trail: Out and back to 3 waterfalls with facilities in some lots
  • Safety: Muddy, steep inclines, packed dirt, loose rocks, family and pet-friendly, heed signs
  • Address: Hooker Falls Access Area or Visitor Center (both are free)
  • Distance From Asheville: 1 hour
  • More Info: DuPont State Recreational Forest website

While DuPont is full of hiking and biking trails, this waterfall hike navigates visitors to Hooker Falls (12 feet with wading areas), Triple Falls (3 tiers, 120 feet), and High Falls (150 feet). It is one of the most memorable and fulfilling Asheville attractions for its beauty and accessibility; we take our guests here for the “wow” factor and visit frequently for picnics as locals.

Notably, Triple Falls is famous as a filming location for The Hunger Games. If you have time, add on Bridal Veil Falls (4 miles round trip), which is a filming location for The Last of the Mohicans. Afterward, head to my favorite nearby city, Hendersonville, for lunch, wine tasting, free museums, and local craft beer.

Take A Tour: If you are visiting for a short time and prefer guided tours, be sure to check out this extremely popular and highly-rated Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest tour.

Catawba Falls*

*Catawba Falls is temporarily closed for maintenance through spring 2024 (although this date keeps changing).

  • Length: 2.7 miles, round trip
  • Difficulty Level: Relatively moderate
  • Type Of Trail: Out and back to 100-foot falls
  • Safety: Muddy, small stream crossings, inclines, family and pet-friendly
  • Address: 3074 Catawba River Rd, Old Fort, NC 28762
  • Distance From Asheville: 30 minutes
  • More Info: USDA Forest Service

One of the prettiest waterfalls near Asheville located in the Pisgah National Forest, Catawba Falls is popular for its moss, lichen, and cascading falls. Cross a scenic bridge, hang out on boulders in calmer areas, and enjoy a relaxing hike with the family. It’s still a workout, though, and one of my favorites for its beauty and bubbling runoffs.

Afterward, explore Old Fort, including lunch and beer at Hillman Beer, shopping for local art, and seeing historic cabins from the 1800s at the Mountain Gateway Museum. For outdoor adventurers, this area is also known for its newer mountain biking trails, the Gateway Trails, along with Kitsuma and Point Lookout.

Graveyard Fields Waterfalls

  • Length: 3+ miles, round trip (about 1/3 of a mile to just Lower Falls)
  • Difficulty Level: Relatively moderate
  • Type Of Trail: Out and back (with loop option) to 2 waterfalls; pit toilets
  • Safety: Muddy, small stream crossings, inclines, family and pet-friendly, confusing to get to Upper Falls
  • Address: Blue Ridge Parkway Mile Marker 418.8.
  • Distance From Asheville: 1 hour
  • More Info: National Park Service

For fall foliage hikes from September to October, Black Balsam and Graveyard Fields are musts. Graveyard Fields boasts two popular waterfalls, with the lower falls being a great stop for families. For adventurous hikers, Upper Falls promises a steep and slippery side trail up the 40-foot waterfall. With little signage, be forewarned this area is extremely easy to get lost in. We’ve gotten a little off-trail and so have our friends. I have a love-dislike relationship with the trail.

Moore Cove Falls

  • Length: 1.4 miles, round trip
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate
  • Type Of Trail: Out and back to 50-foot falls
  • Safety: Muddy, small stream crossings, inclines, bridges, family and pet-friendly, short
  • Address: US-276, Brevard, NC 28712
  • Distance From Asheville: 50 minutes
  • More Info: All Trails Guide

One of the most family-friendly waterfall hikes near Asheville, Moore Cove Falls is one of my favorites because it is a well-maintained trail with the chance of glimpsing a rainbow in the mist. It is also one of the few waterfalls visitors may walk under. However, do not attempt to climb the falls as there have been fatalities. Get here early and hike on a weekday to avoid crowds and limited parking issues.

More Nearby Brevard Waterfalls: Located in the Pisgah National Forest, Moore Cove Falls is minutes away from Sliding Rock (slide down a beautiful waterfall!). This is a great family-friendly activity, perfect in the summer with a bathing suit. Also nearby, Looking Glass Falls is a breathtaking 75-foot waterfall that visitors drive up to. You might get soaked on the stairs down after heavy rain, and the falls get their name from freezing in the winter. If you prefer guided tours, this BRP waterfall tour is extremely popular.

Daniel Ridge Falls

  • Length: 4 miles or 1 mile
  • Difficulty Level: Relatively moderate
  • Type Of Trail: Longer loop or shorter (easy) out and back to a 150-foot waterfall
  • Safety: Muddy, small stream crossings, inclines, family and pet-friendly; no facilities
  • Address: Also known as “Tom’s Spring Branch Falls” in Canton, NC
  • Distance From Asheville: 1 hour
  • More Info: USDA Forest Service Guide

Daniel Ridge Loop is one of the more hidden gem trails with a waterfall popular amongst skilled mountain bikers and locals. I enjoy the loop portion of the trail for its babbling creeks. However, if you are not adequately prepared for a 4-mile loop, take the shorter trail straight to the falls. Because the Blue Ridge Parkway often closes for weather, Daniel Ridge makes for a great winter hike in the Asheville/Brevard area. With little cellular service, be sure to have offline maps.

Crabtree Falls

  • Length: 2 miles or 2.5 miles
  • Difficulty Level: Relatively moderate
  • Type Of Trail: Out and back or loop
  • Safety: Muddy, slippery small stream crossings, inclines
  • Address: Blue Ridge Parkway Mile Post 339.5
  • Distance From Asheville: 1 hour
  • More Info: National Park Service Guide

The Blue Ridge Parkway waterfalls near Asheville don’t get any more breathtaking than Crabtree Falls. The falls cascade over a 60-foot rock cliff while viewers stand on a wooden bridge/viewing platform to get head-on pictures. The trail isn’t as easy as people make it seem, though, as it may grow very slippery. Nearby, enjoy camping grounds or visit quirky Little Switzerland for shops, lodging, and food.

Rainbow Falls

  • Length: 3 miles, round trip
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Type Of Trail: Out and back to a 150-foot waterfall
  • Safety: Muddy, small stream crossings,  800-foot elevation gain, forest stairs, family and pet-friendly
  • Address: Gorges State Park, 976 Grassy Ridge Rd, Sapphire, NC 28774
  • Distance From Asheville: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • More Info: NC Division of Parks & Rec Guide

Although one of the longest drives on this list, Rainbow Falls is worth the trek for its multiple waterfalls and namesake. Along the hike, see if you can find Hidden Falls and Turtleback Falls. Exert extreme caution, though, as this is another area known for pet and human fatalities. Keep your eyes on your GPS as there are multiple “Rainbow Falls.” Gorges State Park is full of biodiversity perfect for hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding.

Linville Falls

  • Length: Variety of trails
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to strenuous
  • Type Of Trail: Out and backs and loops
  • Safety: Muddy, inclines, family and pet-friendly, facilities at Visitor Center
  • Address: Linville Falls Visitor Center (MP 316.4)
  • Distance From Asheville: 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • More Info: Blue Ridge Parkway Association Guide

One of the most photographed waterfalls near Asheville, Linville Falls is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians.” Past the Visitor Center, select from numerous trails including Erwins View Trail and Linville Gorge. You can easily see the falls from multiple vantage points across shorter hikes. Afterward, head to Linville Falls Winery.

Mingo Falls

  • Length: Under 1 mile, round trip
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Type Of Trail: Out and back
  • Safety: Muddy, stairs, family and pet-friendly (but account for those stairs)
  • Address: Mingo Falls, Eastern Cherokee Reservation, Cherokee, NC 28719
  • Distance From Asheville: 1.5 hours
  • More Information: National Park Service Guide

Mingo Falls is the Stairmaster of waterfalls; we counted 160 steps. At 120 feet tall, this is one of my favorite waterfalls in Cherokee, right before one entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While it is not much of a hike, head into the Smokies afterward to start exploring the best of mother nature. The nearby Oconaluftee Visitor Center showcases traditional Appalachian life and has facilities.

Maggie Valley Waterfalls: While in the area, consider an afternoon in Maggie Valley, drinking beer by the creek, shopping, and touring the motorcycle museum. Maggie Valley is famous for its twin waterfall, Soco Falls. It’s a bit treacherous on the way down to this roadside waterfall, though. Worth it? Maybe…

Little Bearwallow Falls

  • Length: 2 miles, round trip
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Type Of Trail: Out and back
  • Safety: Muddy, small stream crossings, inclines, forest stairs, slippery, family and pet-friendly
  • Address: Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Trailhead; Wildcat Rock Trail, 3823 Gerton Hwy, Gerton, NC 28735
  • Distance From Asheville: 50 minutes
  • More Info: Conserving Carolina Trail Guide

One of the more secret waterfall trails near Asheville, we enjoy Little Bearwallow Falls for the scenic trek along the Wildcat Rock Trail. Ice and rock climbers head here in the winter. While it is not the prettiest of falls in Western North Carolina, it’s a great picnic spot. Plus, we think Conserving Carolina has the best-maintained and labeled trails.

Hike past the falls and continue on a much more difficult hike to Wildcat Rock (4 miles round trip) or trek the 10-mile round trip trail to Bearwallow Mountain.

Chimney Rock State Park: Little Bearwallow Falls is on the way to Chimney Rock State Park. Pay to enter the park to see its 535-million-year-old monolith. Then, hike to Hickory Nut Falls, a 404-foot waterfall. Parts of The Last of the Mohicans were filmed here.

Before you go…

I’d love to know your favorite waterfall hikes in the comments. There are so many, we couldn’t possibly name them all. You might also enjoy our master guide of fun things to do while in Asheville. These are activities we enjoy as Asheville residents.

Christine and Tom selfiePin

Christine Frascarelli

Christine (pronouns: she/her) is the owner and lead writer of Uncorked Asheville. After falling in love with those gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Christine and her husband Tom decided to call Asheville, North Carolina home. When her pointy Italian nose isn’t stuck in a book, Christine is adopting all of the kitties, getting lost in the forest, and drinking an ESB. She has a BA in English and History from Smith College, her MLIS from USF-Tampa, and is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar - Indonesia. Christine also owns The Uncorked Librarian LLC with books and movies to inspire travel.


  1. Hi Christine,
    Your information has been a blessing for me in planning our up coming trip. We are staying in Saluda. I wanted to ask you if you had a suggestion about the best way to see Looking Glass, Moore Cove, Sliding Rock, and Skinny Dip? Like first you go to this fall then from there you can easily get to the next fall and so on. Since we have never been and just looking on a map I’m looking to not have to back track as much as possible.
    Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi Tyra, Coming from AVL, I’d probably go: Looking Glass to Moore Cove to Sliding Rock and then dip over to Skinny Dip (the first three are all in a line; Skinny Dip runs a bit of a horseshoe turn & then parallel. Or, start with Skinny Dip and then tackle the other three.

  2. Some of these are absolutely beautiful. Some look like sewage runoff (like Biltmore picture). This page was helpful. Thanks!

    1. I won’t disagree with you there… we *may* have had the same thoughts. Haha. The pond nearby is pretty.

  3. 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!

    1. The fall is absolutely beautiful here. You guys will love it. I hope you have a wonderful trip! Thank you so much.

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

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