By Julie Matthews
One amazing perk of mountain life is the abundance of waterfalls. Hiking in the woods and hearing the loud sound of water as you approach cascading falls and then catching a first glimpse of the rushing water—while feeling the cool, refreshing air on your skin—is quite mystical. Discovering a waterfall is almost an incomparable experience, and North Carolina’s High Country has spectacular waterfalls, a number of which are fairly convenient to reach. Here are a sampling of waterfalls that are fairly easy to access.
This 80-foot waterfall is near Blowing Rock and can be viewed from the roadside. A pull-off area is next to the falls so no hiking is required.
Right off Highway 19E, these falls can also be seen by the roadside. The falls are viewable from the parking lot, and there’s a bridge nearby where you can get a closer look.
The falls are located in the Linville Gorge, a pristine national wilderness area. The first overlook of the falls are accessible by an easy 0.8 mile trail from the Visitor Center parking lot. (Note: Continuing on the trail to view the lower falls is a much more strenuous hike.)
About 15 miles from Boone, a 1.2-mile gravel trail from E. B. Jeffress Park leads to this 35-foot waterfall.
Laurel Creek Falls
Take a short hike and discover these 15 to 30-foot falls, also known locally as Trash Can Falls (due to a dumpster site that was previously located near the trailhead), and one of Boone’s popular swimming holes on the Watauga River.
Elk River Falls
These falls are impressive with water plunging 85 feet. Located in Elk Park, the trail to the falls is about 0.25 miles.
Also referred to as Boone Fork Falls, approximately 20 minutes from Boone, by way of Julian Price Memorial Park’s Boone Fork Trail. This is an easy-to-moderate level hiking trail that is about 1.5 miles to the falls.