A walk or drive beside any mountain stream will lead you by hundreds of tumbling cascades as the waters rush down from the peaks of the Smokies. But the high falls are the most spectacular, and Western North Carolina offers some of the best in the Smokies.
Lower Cullasaja Falls, Upper Cullasaja Falls, Dry Falls and Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls
From Cashiers) Drive W (toward Highlands) on US 64. Turn right at traffic light at junction of US 64 & NC 28 (toward Franklin). Continue for 2.8 miles. Bridal Veil Falls is on right. Continue for 0.9 miles. After passing Dry Falls sign, turn left into parking lot. Go down stone staircase to Dry Falls, which roars overhead. Exit parking lot to left. Continue 3.3 miles and pull off to left onto gravel for a view of Upper Cullasaja Falls. Continue for 2.4 miles. Pull off to left onto blacktop for view of Lower Cullasaja Falls.
(From Cashiers) From intersection of US 64 & NC 107, drive E on US 64 for 10.4 miles. Turn right (S) on NC 281. Continue for 9.9 miles. Turn left into parking lot. Short walk to lookout. There are trails to top and bottom of Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall in the eastern U.S.
Turtleback Falls and Rainbow Falls
Not for young children or the less than physically fit. (From Cashiers) From the junction of US 64 & NC 107 drive (E) on US 64 for 10.4 mi. Turn R (S) on NC 281. Cont. for 0.9 mi. to a National Forest Service Horsepasture River/Rainbow Falls sign on the L. Park on the right, cross the road, and enter the woods on an old “jeep” trail. *Descend the trail (which gets progressively poorer) for approximately a mile until it intersects a trail which parallels the river. To your front is Turtleback Falls. Go left along the trail to view Turtleback Falls from the bottom. Cont. another quarter-mile in the same direction to Rainbow Falls, a 150-ft. waterfall that boasts rainbows on sunny mornings.
Arguably the most stunning cascade in the region is Mingo Falls on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. From the Saunooke Village shopping area in downtown Cherokee, drive north on Big Cove Road approximately 5 miles (past the KOA Campground) to the Mingo Falls parking lot. The walk from the parking lot is short (just a hundred yards) but very steep.
About 11 miles east of Cherokee on US 19 towards Maggie Valley you’ll find Soco Falls on your right. There’s a small unmarked pull-off and a short walk leads you to a viewing platform for Soco Falls and another smaller falls. Coming from Maggie Valley, it’s 1.5 miles west from the Blue Ridge Parkway and will be on your left.
From the Deep Creek trailhead parking area, follow the well-marked trail 1/4 mile uphill to Juneywhank Falls. The roar of the falls can be heard even before you reach it. An eighty-foot cascade of water starts above you and runs under a log footbridge with handrails, and meets up with Deep Creek at the bottom of the trail.