Hiking and Waterfall Trails
Discover the East's king of waterfalls. Watch it cascade over massive rock pillars and drop 411 feet to the river below.
A Cascading Beauty. Whitewater Falls owes its existence to the Blue Ridge Escarpment, a sharp drop in elevation between the mountains and the Piedmont. With a 411-foot plunge, Whitewater Falls in North Carolina is the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. South Carolina's Lower Whitewater Falls drops another 400 feet. Reflecting the escarpment's steep, rugged terrain, much of the Whitewater Falls area receives few visitors and has remained wild and undeveloped over the years. In the cool, moist shade of steep slopes and rock cliffs, wildflowers and salamanders abound. This wild land is also a perfect haven for a rich array of ferns, mosses, and fungi. Enjoy the beauty of blooms and berries through out the seasons.
Directions from Cashiers: Drive south on NC 107 for 9.3 miles. Shortly after crossing the State line, turn left at the sign for Whitewater Falls. Continue 2.3 miles to the intersection with SC 130, which becomes NC 281 at the North Carolina State line. Just beyond this point is a sign for the entrance to Whitewater Falls.
What Whitewater Falls Recreation Area Offers
The Whitewater Falls Recreation Area is open from dawn until dusk year-round. The area features awesome views of Whitewater Falls and Lake Jocassee. Picnic tables and shelters, flush toilets, and ample parking are available. Under the present fee program, up to 80 percent of the collections help fund improvements at this site. These improvements can range from trail construction to rest room renovation.
Have a safe visit
To be safe, never wade or walk on rocks above the waterfall. Even when dry, the rocks are extremely slippery, and a slip can be FATAL! Viewing these waterfalls from a distance is safer and provides better views.
At the Whitewater Falls Recreation Area, the following regulations are in force for your safety and to protect the environment.
- Stay behind guard rails and caution signs.
- Stay on the trail. Avoid shortcuts, climbing on boulders, or walking on plants along the trail.
- Leave flowers and plants so others may enjoy them and so plants can generate next year's flowers.
- Picnicking is welcomed, but please place garbage in trash cans.
- Visitors may not drink or carry alcoholic beverages.
- No camping or campfires are permitted within the Whitewater Falls Recreation Area or anywhere within the Whitewater River corridor.
- Keep dogs on leashes.
- Report hazardous conditions to the host in the trailer parked across from the rest rooms or to the Nantahala Ranger District office at (828) 524-6441.
Where to Find Best Views
For an excellent view of Whitewater Falls, follow the paved walkway to the upper overlook. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot and is accessible to people with wheelchairs. A lower overlook is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps. More energetic hikers can continue elevation to the Whitewater River and Foothills Trail. With the exception of the two overlooks near the top, no other views of the falls are offered. The best views of the falls are from the two overlooks. However, some people venture off the trail to try to get better views. Tragically, several of these people have fallen to their deaths or suffered serious injuries at Whitewater Falls.
The Foothills Trail stretches along the Blue Ridge Escarpment 85 miles. After descending the spur trail, hikers may travel the Foothills Trail to South Carolina, Lower Whitewater Falls, and other east and west points. Foothills Trail Conference volunteers provide the majority of trail maintenance. The conference's board includes representatives of managing agencies and landowners. The Nantahala Ranger District of the Nantahala National Forest manages a 4.5-mile segment of the Foothills Trail from the NC-SC State line east of Whitewater Falls to the NC-SC State line, west of the falls.
Silver Run Falls
Silver Run Falls spills 30 feet into a pool of water.
Directions: The falls are located off NC 107, 4.1 miles south of Cashiers. Park in the pull-off on the left.
Caution: Keep in mind, waterfalls are beautiful, but they are not to be climbed on, they can be dangerous, people have been seriously injured and in some cases have lost their lives climbing on waterfalls, they are posted for a reason, so enjoy while you are there and take a photo home to remember.