December 28, 2018 4 min read

Looking for water? We’ve come up with a list of awesome waterfall hikes right around Asheville, NC, most of which are short enough to be done in a couple of hours.

1. Looking Glass Falls (.25 miles roundtrip)

Looking Glass Falls in Autumn in North Carolina

Located about 45 minutes outside of Asheville, this hike is another great one for those looking for quick escape. The Looking Glass Falls hike offers the instant gratification of a roadside viewing platform, as well as a quick hike into the base of the falls.

2. Hooker falls (.6 miles roundtrip)

Hooker Falls Autumn Waterfalls DuPont State Park Forest Fall Foliage

Another easy trot is the Hooker Falls trail, located in the Dupont State Forest within Transylvania County. With a large swimming hole set beneath it, Hooker Falls draws large crowds in the summer months, but can be an easy, quiet getaway almost any other time of the year.

3. High Falls (1.5 miles roundtrip)

High Falls in DuPont State Forest

A bit of a longer hike (but still on the short end), this trail ends with the captivating view of the 100ft High Falls, which cascades down a cliff that looks designed for a waterfall. Though short, this hike is a great workout on the way back up from the waterfall, increasing in elevation by about 500ft on recently constructed stone stairs. 

4. Biltmore Waterfall (.25 miles roundtrip)

One of the more industrial of the waterfalls in the Asheville area, this is an easy drive-up / walk-up waterfall that presents a scenic place to relax or take a casual hike or walk around the small Biltmore nature area, which surrounds the famous and historic Biltmore House, a scenic destination for those touring the Asheville area. Perfect for a quick lunch break walk or even mini meditation hike in the mornings.

5. Bridal Veil Falls (4.6 miles roundtrip)

Bridal Veil Falls, autumn, western nc

On the more moderate list of waterfall hikes around Asheville is Bridal Veil Falls, a gorgeous two-park waterfall that drops down from a freefall onto the face of a large rock, making it a visual masterpiece for photographers and waterfall junkies alike. Because of the somewhat difficult trek to get this waterfall, this hike is a perfect solution for those looking to get a little bit of sightseeing in without the typical crowds.

6. Pearsons Falls (.25 miles roundtrip)
pearson's falls nc

Another short trek, Pearson’s Falls is a 90 foot staircase waterfall that is the perfect quick getaway on a nice day! WIth a convenient footpath and viewing are of the falls, this is the perfect hike for those seeking a simple walk through the woods.

7. Sliding Rock

Sliding Rock in Western North Carolina

An immensely popular summer destination, this waterfall is best known for its slideability, which means that the 60-foot flat is the perfect reprieve from the summer heat. Looking for a quieter time to visit? Try the off-season, or simply head over on a weekday and have a picnic in one of the flat, shady areas surrounding the base of the falls.

8. Douglas Falls (10 miles roundtrip)

douglas falls near asheville nc

For those wanting a more difficult trek, Douglas Falls is a 10 mile out-and-back trail that ends at the 70 foot waterfall, but only after an elevation gain of around 2,000 feet. Often selected for its spectacular views, Douglas Falls is the perfect choice for someone who wants an intense yet very rewarding outdoor excursion.

9. Mingo Falls (.25 miles roundtrip)

Mingo Falls in North Carolina Cherokee Country

Located just inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mingo Falls is another gorgeous waterfall that’s only a quick hike up 161 stairs. Though a common site for fairweather visitors, this waterfall is at its strongest during the periods of heavy snowmelt, or even during the winter, when it becomes a frozen masterpiece.

10. Catawba Falls (2.7 miles roundtrip)

Catawba Waterfall in Western North Carolina in the spring with fresh green on the rocks under the falls

Catawba falls is a hike that incorporates several smaller waterfalls along the way, and presents a nice, easy grade, which makes it perfect for those traveling with children, pets, or older family members. Winding through the forest, this mostly shady trail is also a spectacular place to test the new running shoes.

11. Hickory Nut Falls (1.5 miles roundtrip)

Early morning image of Hickory Nut Falls in the Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina

At just over 400 feet tall, Hickory Nut falls is the tallest of our favorite waterfall hikes near Asheville, and offers an easy hike and viewing area for those who want to spend some time at the base. The waterfall is Hollywood grade, having been featured in the iconic film The Last of the Mohicans, and the area surrounding the falls is the perfect place to travel during peak foliage season.

12. Crabtree Falls (2.7 miles roundtrip)

Crabtree Falls Autumn NC Waterfall

At about a mile directly off of the Blue Ridge Parkway sits the towering Crabtree Falls, a popular destination for its proximity to the nearby campground of the same name, and for the phenomenal nature surrounding the falls. While some make this hike an out-and-back adventure, there’s a second, smaller waterfall just past Crabtree on a trail that eventually loops back around to the trailhead.

13. Turtleback Falls (3.5 miles roundtrip)

Turtleback Falls, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Similar to the Rainbow Falls, Turtleback Falls is a well-known slide-in swimming hole with a significantly lower volume of crowds due to the swiftness of the water. While the slide is only recommended for strong swimmers, there are a number of other falls close by, including Rainbow Falls and Hidden Falls, which offers a more family-friendly swimming hole just down the river.

14. Rainbow Falls (3.9 miles roundtrip)

Rainbow Falls in the Fall

Departing from Gorges State Park, this waterfall is at the end of a winding 1.7 mile hike that is used to access several other waterfalls. Rainbow falls is 150 foot crasher that is named for the way the sun perfectly bounces off of its surface, and is a must-see destination for any eager explorer.

15. Moore Cove Falls (1.2 miles roundtrip)

Moore Cove Falls, North Carolina

Located in the waterfall-rich Transylvania County, Moore Cove Falls is a part of a conglomerate of gorgeous falls that surround the Blue Ridge Parkway. Moore Cove Falls in particular is a lesser travelled hike, making it ideal for those seeking slightly more solitude on their mini-excursions.

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