Geography and rainfall are the reasons, experts say, for the large number of waterfalls in Transylvania County. Transylvania’s elevation ranges from slightly more than 1,200 feet to more than 6,000 feet on top of Chestnut Bald.
The county also has one of the highest average rainfalls, besides the Pacific Northwest, with an average of 67 inches a year. In the past, the waterfalls have had their practical uses, both legal and illegal. Gristmills took advantage of waterfalls to produce power, while secluded waterfalls were coveted by moonshiners making illegal liquor.
Please note that waterfalls, while beautiful, are also dangerous. In the past three years there have been nine waterfall-related fatalities in Transylvania County caused either by people falling from falls or drowning. Before visiting our county’s waterfalls, read the article in this magazine about waterfall safety and follow the safety tips to ensure that you and your loved ones have a safe, enjoyable visit to Transylvania.
The following are some of our favorite waterfalls:
•About 8 miles out of Brevard on U.S. 276 heading toward Cedar Mountain is Connestee Falls, which features two spectacular cascades, each about 110 feet high. The falls may be viewed about 100 yards from a parking lot on the right. After Connestee Falls, jump back in the car and continue south on U.S. 276 for a few miles before taking a turn left on Cascade Lake Road. Proceed 2.5 miles to Staton Road (Old DuPont Road), turn right and drive another roughly 2.5 miles to the bridge over the Little River in DuPon
t State Recreational Forest. A parking lot is just to the left. Hooker Falls is about 0.4 miles on an easy trail from the lot. After Hooker, retrace your steps toward the parking lot, cross the bridge on your right and follow the well-marked trail along the river for about 0.5 miles to Triple Falls. This walk includes a steep incline and takes about 20 to 30 minutes to reach the Triple Falls overlook. Triple Falls features three distinct cascades totaling about 120 feet and was used as a backdrop in the movie “The Hunger Games.”
Another roughly 0.5 miles of hiking will take you to High Falls and its 120 feet of granite and falling water. The falls and a covered bridge can be viewed from a picnic shelter. High Falls may also be accessed from the High Falls parking lot on Staton Road. Another waterfall worth visiting in DuPont State Recreational Forest is Bridal Veil Falls, which was featured in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans.” Bridal Veil Falls is a 2.5-mile hike from the High Falls access area, or 2.25 miles from the Fawn Lake access area on Reasonover Road.
•In Pisgah National Forest there are numerous waterfalls. A spectacular and accessible waterfall, and one of the most popular, is Looking Glass Falls, which is 5 miles on U.S. 276 from the national forest entrance. Parking is ample with stairs to an observation deck.
About 1 mile from Looking Glass Falls on U.S. 276 is the trailhead to Moore Cove Falls. A 0.7-mile trail leads to the 50-foot-high falls. Another waterfall called High Falls can be found by going roughly 5 miles on U.S. 276 from the Moore Cove Falls trailhead to Yellow Gap Road, just past the Cradle of Forestry en
rance. Turn right off Yellow Gap Road after about 3 miles to a parking area. The falls may be reached by a 2-mile hike downstream. After returning to U.S. 276, take a right up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the Parkway, take a left and travel to milepost 418.8 to the popular Graveyard Fields. From the trailhead, hikes are available to Upper Falls, Second Falls and Yellowstone Falls.
•Visitors to the western portion of Transylvania County are close to four waterfalls: Toxaway Falls, Rainbow Falls, Turtleback Falls and Whitewater Falls. Toxaway Falls is located below the U.S. 64 bridge, which is below the Lake Toxaway dam. Viewing the top of the falls requires parking in the U.S. 64 right-of-way. To get to Rainbow Falls, travel 18 miles on U.S. 64 West to U.S. 281 and turn left. The parking area for its trail is located in Gorges State Park, the entrance of which is roughly 0.7 miles on the left. Be prepared for a strenuous 3-mile round-trip hike to a 150-foot high cascade. Turtleback Falls is located upstream of Rainbow Falls. To get to Whitewater Falls, travel eight miles down U.S. 281 to an entrance on the left. There is a paved walkway to a viewing area showing the Whitewater River plunging a spectacular 411 feet.