Maybe we’re biased but we wholeheartedly think fall is the most beautiful time of the year to explore the Tar Heel State. The summer heat has subsided and the trees have traded in their verdant leaves for rusty reds and vibrant oranges. We’ll come up with just about any excuse to be outside during autumn. Hiking, sightseeing, leaf peeping — you name it, we want to do it. One of our most favorite ways to enjoy the season is by checking out some of the local waterfalls in Western North Carolina. We get everything we love in one place: great views to admire the fall foliage, plenty of hiking and the tranquil sounds of cascading water.
There are so many waterfalls to choose from that it can get pretty overwhelming trying to plan a quick day trip but we’ve found five stunning waterfalls all in the same area that are only a little more than two hours from Charlotte. We’ve made it easy for you to get the most out of your day trip. Check it out!
High Falls, Triple Falls & Hooker Falls
Location: 1300 Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718
Drive time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 9 minutes
Lace up those hiking boots (or comfy tennis shoes) and start your day in the heart of DuPont State Recreational Forest where you can visit three different waterfalls on a moderate hike that’s less than four miles long, round-trip. DuPont waterfalls include High Falls, Hooker Falls and Triple Falls. We suggest parking at the High Falls Access Area and Visitors Center and then walking to the three falls on a self-guided tour.
If you’re looking for falls that have a major impact, High Falls is the place to go with a 120-foot drop down a granite incline. The views are absolutely magnificent. Round-trip from the access area to the falls is only about one mile down an easy walking path (but we suggest you continue following the Little River to the other two falls). There’s also a picnic shelter if you want to pack a lunch and a covered bridge at the top of the falls if you’re looking for another photo op. Seriously, how stunning is this view?
Next, hikers have to get up a short, steep slope to see Triple Falls but the picturesque views are completely worth the extra exercise. The falls cascade down a 125-foot slope with a series of falls and rapids. Triple Falls is about 2.2 miles roundtrip from the High Falls access area. You may recognize the falls from scenes in the movie Last of The Mohicans.
Lastly, hikers will reach Hooker Falls. With only a 12-foot drop, Hooker Falls may not be the most action-packed waterfall on the DuPont waterfall trail but it’s incredibly beautiful and serene. Plus, it gives you a chance to stretch your legs on a nice, relaxing walk after being in the car for two hours.
Once you’ve visited the three falls of DuPont State Recreational Forest, there are two more waterfalls only a few miles away that are also worth seeing.
Looking Glass Falls
Location: US-276, Brevard, NC 28712
Drive time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 22 minutes
Looking Glass Falls is once of North Carolina’s most popular waterfalls because of its easy access. It’s right on the side of the road with plenty of roadside parking. A sidewalk leads up to the first view point, which makes it convenient for families with strollers or wheelchairs. A staircase leads down to two more places to enjoy the view — it is a little steep but there are railings to help you keep your balance. (We went all the way to the base of the falls and got a little wet as the water crashed down.)
Sliding Rock Falls
Location: US-276, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
Drive time from Charlotte: 2 hours, 35 minutes
Directly up the road from Looking Glass Falls is Sliding Rock Falls, which is also easily accessible right off the road with plenty of parking. The falls are just a short walk from the parking lot. Sliding down Sliding Rock is almost like a right of passage in North Carolina. People travel from all over the state to slide down the smooth rock to make a splash at the bottom. Even if you don’t feel like taking a dip, it’s still really fun to watch!
Day Trip Bonus!
End your day at the new Sierra Nevada Brewery with a craft beer and dinner. We really were impressed with their farm-to-table menu that includes dishes like harissa-rubbed lamb ribs and a couscous and heirloom tomato salad. Plus, the brewery has an incredible outdoor patio full of rocking chairs to take in a sunset. The brewery is located at 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Fletcher, NC 28732.
Get out there and explore everything North Carolina has to offer this season!
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