Hiking and Waterfall Trails
Part of the beauty of staying in the Western North Carolina mountains is playing in its abundance of natural wonders. The area is packed with hiking trails ranging from leisurely strolls to aggressive adventures. And an abundance of waterfalls gives even more reasons to explore the great outdoors. See three of our favorite nearby excursions below or check out all area maps here.
Considered the East's king of waterfalls, Whitewater Falls cascades over massive rock pillars and drops 411 feet to the river below, making it the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. 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 throughout the seasons.
Open from dawn until dusk throughout the year, the Whitewater Falls Recreation Area features awesome views of the falls and Lake Jocassee. Picture tables, shelters, toilets, and parking are available on site.
Pinnacle Park is an 1,100-acre town park located about 10 minutes from Sylva that features streams, waterfalls, and panoramic views throughout. To get to the pinnacle, prepare for a strenuous 3.4-mile hike (7 miles there and back) that ascends more than 3,000 feet in elevation. The trail follows a logging road, passes through a grassy ridge, and ends with a short rocky trail leading to breathtaking views of Sylva and Scotts Creek Valley at the pinnacle (approximately 5,000 feet up).
A vigorous 1.2-mile hike will take you to the 6,292-foot summit of the Waterrock Knob Trail—the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trek gains 412 feet of elevation and features gorgeous views, including several spots near the summit where you can see the Smokies up to 50 miles out on a clear day, making this the perfect trail for 360-degree sunrise and sunset views.
Silver Run Falls
Located in the Nantahala National Forest and just four miles south of Cashiers in Jackson County, Silver Run Falls spills 30 feet into a pool of water with a small beach area. A popular swimming spot in the warmer months, the tranquil natural pool is safe enough for even small children to enjoy. Just a short walk (about .25 miles) on a level trail will take you to the headwater of the Whitewater River. There are a couple of observation points along the shore to soak in the views of Silver Run Falls, and many rocks where you can step across to get a different angle. For peak fall color, visit around mid-October.
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.