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 in the county’s southwest region to more than 6,000 feet on top of Chestnut Bald in the northwest.
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 a prime ingredient for making illegal liquor.
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 the 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 Little River in DuPont 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 five 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 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 entrance. Turn right off Yellow Gap 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 two waterfalls, Rainbow Falls and Whitewater Falls. To get to Rainbow, 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. To get to Whitewater, 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.