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There aren't many things on earth more breathtaking than a majestic waterfall. The tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains can be found in North Carolina, right on the border of South Carolina. For many, it's worth the trip to have the chance to see the incredible cascade of Whitewater Falls, with a total combined height of more than 800 feet.

This waterfall from a distance is impressive, and up close it's positively mind-blowing. The hike there is rated as 'moderate' but is also home to overlooks that allow people to get a good glimpse without overexerting themselves. To add to the commanding presence of Whitewater Falls, the surrounding landscape is still wild and untamed, making for an incredible vista.


Whitewater Falls: The Tallest Waterfall In The Carolinas

Whitewater Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Carolinas but is also, arguably, the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies. Its only competition is Crabtree Falls in Virginia, but some will say that even that doesn't compare to North Carolina's incredible cascade. Visitors to the falls should be aware that there are two waterfalls that make up Whitewater Falls: the Upper and Lower Falls. Each one tops out around 400 feet, making them both exactly the same height but together, they create an incredible waterfall that draws many hikers, both locally and from around the country.

Upper Whitewater Falls

The easiest way to see Upper Whitewater Falls is via the overlook found on the trail. After parking, there's a paved trail that goes on for about a quarter of a mile and this is where visitors will find the first overlook.

This trail is wheelchair accessible.

From that overlook, there's a stairway that leads visitors down 154 steps to a second, lower overlook. The view from this lower platform is arguably the better of the two, granting onlookers a glimpse of the entirety of Upper Whitewater Falls. These are the two main overlooks for the falls, excluding the various hikes through the area that experienced hikers might choose to walk.

Do not venture off the trails around Whitewater Falls. Many people have fallen or gotten injured by doing so, and the conditions off-trail can be incredibly dangerous.

Lower Whitewater Falls Trail

For avid hikers and those who are enticed by the Falls' more challenging route, there's a lower trail below these two overlooks. For roughly a half-mile, hikers can follow a trail that drops 600 feet in elevation where they'll find themselves at the Whitewater River and Foothills Trail.

Those taking this trail should be aware of its switchback conditions and the fact that it may be slippery and does have some steep sections. After the metal bridge, hikers will find themselves with a decision on two trails - one which takes them closer to the falls and is very difficult, and the other trail takes hikers down the river to Corbin Creek Falls.

Hikers should be careful of the wet conditions along both of these trails. Additionally, many hikers comment on the number of snakes that can often be seen along the trail or hiding under riverside rocks.

Related: Here's Why The La Paz Waterfall Gardens Are Truly Exceptional

Tips For Visiting Whitewater Falls

Those visiting Whitewater Falls should decide on a trail depending on their hiking skill. While the overlooks are straightforward, choosing to hike further down via the Corbin Creek Falls trail does require a higher level of agility and comfort on slippery trails. Proper footwear is a must, including waterproof and slip-resistant hiking boots.

The best views of the falls are via its two overlooks and while the hike further down will provide more vantage points, it might not necessarily reveal a better view. The best time to visit is during the summer or fall, when the weather is good or when the foliage begins to change the surrounding landscape.

For those who time their visit right during the summer months, it's sometimes possible to see a rainbow cross in front of the falls due to the reflection of sunlight on the water spray from the falls.

Reaching Whitewater Falls

For those coming to the Falls from Asheville, directions are as follows:

  • Head west on I-240 until reaching I-26 East. Visitors will want to get off at the Asheville Airport/Brevard Exit - Exit 40 - before taking a right onto NC 280. From there, visitors should drive to Brevard, take US 64 West, before taking a left on NC 281 to go south following the Sapphire Community. The Whitewater Falls entrance will be about eight miles down the road.

Whitewater Falls is a beautiful sight to see in person, and it's a must-do for those with some spare time in Asheville.