Summer is the ideal season for chasing waterfalls, and the Southern states have plenty worth seeing. Here are 25 waterfalls found in four Southern states that are worth the trek and will reward you with a burst of cooling mist, a refreshing swim, a beautiful photo op, or all of the above! To explore the list by state, use the links below:
Carmac Falls | Smithville, TN
In Smithville, TN, you’ll find beautiful Carmac Falls at the Evins Mill resort. Although this waterfall is on private property, the resort offers a Daytrippers Package — $60 for two and $30 for each additional person — for visitors who want to enjoy the resort’s outdoor amenities for the day and dine on a picnic lunch prepared by resort staff. Call the inn ahead of time to make a reservation for this package.
Fall Hollow Falls | Hohenwald, TN
Not far from Nashville is Fall Hollow, a stop on the Natchez Trace Parkway with a short trail that takes you to several charming waterfalls, including one perfect for kids to play in. This makes a great day trip out of Music City. Be sure to bring a picnic lunch for added fun.
The Falls of the Fiery Gizzard | Sequatchie, TN
The Fiery Gizzard Trail in South Cumberland State Park is considered one of the top hikes in the nation, but at 12.5 incredibly strenuous miles, it’s definitely not for everyone. Fortunately, you can hike a 1.5-mile loop to see one of the Gizzard’s crown jewels — Foster Falls. This 60-foot waterfall even has a swinging bridge at its base, giving visitors many different ways to view it. Check out the park map for the Foster Falls trail. For a longer (though still moderate) hike with even more waterfalls and lots of gorgeous swimming holes, opt for the park’s Grundy Day Loop and take the side jaunt to Sycamore Falls before finishing the loop. This was one of my all-time favorite hikes!
Falls Creek Falls | Spencer, TN
This waterfall destination is located outside of Spencer, TN, in Falls Creek Falls State Park. The park covers 29,800 acres and includes many other lakes and waterfalls. Standing at 256 feet, Falls Creek Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the Eastern United States, making it especially popular.
Laurel Falls | Coalmont, TN
Visitors to Gatlinburg can easily make time for this easy 2.3-mile hike to see Laurel Falls. The trailhead is just a few minutes from town, inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 80-foot waterfall is well worth the walk, and you might even see some black bears along the way!
Stillhouse Hollow Falls | Mt. Pleasant, TN
Located on Highway 43 just north of Summertown, TN, this 75-foot waterfall is an easy 0.75-mile hike away from the main road. We love visiting this waterfall after an afternoon spent gathering berries at one of the nearby “U-Pick” farms. The dense forest surrounding the falls is always lovely and cool, and there are plenty of wading opportunities in the sparkling creek that runs alongside the trail.
Amicalola Falls | Dawsonville, GA
The tallest waterfall in Georgia is well worth the challenging stair climb it takes to see it. At the top of a series of stairways, a platform across the falls offers a spectacular view and prime Instagram opportunities. Amicalola Falls State Park is one of the most popular parks in Georgia. To avoid crowds, go early or on a weekday.
Anna Ruby Falls | Helen, GA
An easy 0.5-mile paved trail offers access to this stunning double waterfall near Helen, GA. You’ll need to drive through Unicoi State Park to the Anna Ruby Falls Visitors Center to get there. If you’re headed to the falls, you do not need to pay the $3/person admission to Unicoi State Park. Instead, you’ll pay once you arrive at the visitors center. Kids under 16 are free.
DeSoto Falls | Cleveland, GA
If you’re headed to Helen or Dahlonega, both towns in Georgia, consider stopping for a hike to DeSoto Falls, named for a helmet found here long ago that was said to have belonged to legendary explorer Hernando DeSoto. A gorgeous two-mile hike through the rhododendron-filled forest will take you to not one but two scenic waterfalls. Park at the DeSoto Falls Recreation Area for access to the trail.
High Shoals Falls/Blue Hole Falls | Hiawassee, GA
A lovely 2.5-mile round-trip hike through the lush forest takes you to two fabulous North Georgia waterfalls. This lesser-known hike is a favorite with Georgia natives. You’ll first encounter Blue Hole Falls, which may well be the most beautiful swimming hole in the state. Next, you’ll come upon High Shoals Falls, a prime spot for photos, picnics, and splashing around at the base of the falls. Free parking is available at the High Shoal Falls trailhead on Indian Grave Gap Road, which is marked on Google Maps.
Tallulah Falls | Tallulah Falls, GA
Another North Georgia must-see, Tallulah Falls is a series of six waterfalls tumbling 1,000 feet into the Tallulah Gorge, one of the most breathtaking canyons in the eastern United States. Hike down to the suspension bridge spanning the gorge 80 feet from the bottom — or get a permit from the Visitors Center and descend to the gorge floor. Tallulah Falls State Park offers several guided hikes each month, including sunset and full-moon hikes. Check the schedule of events before you go.
Anglin Falls | Berea, KY
Located near Berea, KY, this 75-foot waterfall is part of John B. Stephenson Memorial Forest, which is described as a wooded gorge. This is a good place to visit after a significant rain when the waterfall is in full effect. It is also a good side trip from nearby Cumberland Falls. Berea College manages this public property, a hub for hikers and botanists who enjoy its vast wildflower and plant selection.
Bad Branch Falls | Harlan County, KY
This wild waterfall in Harlan County, KY, tumbles into a 60-foot gorge on the south side of Pine Mountain. The hike to see it is only 1.2 miles, but it is strenuous! Adventurous types may want to continue past the falls to the top of Pine Mountain.
Broke Leg Falls | Wellington, KY
Located in Daniel Boone National Forest, the raging waters at Broke Leg Falls drop over a cliff into a gorge. A tornado ravaged the park area surrounding Broke Leg Falls in 2012. Restoration efforts followed to make the main falls accessible to visitors, but officials decided to leave much of the damage alone for natural restoration to occur. For the best experience, avoid visiting during a dry spell. And watch your step — they call it Broke Leg Falls for a reason!
Cumberland Falls | Honeybee, KY
Called the “Niagara of the South,” this impressive waterfall is 68 feet tall and 125 feet wide. It’s the centerpiece of a state park that contains a lodge and restaurant, but what really makes this waterfall stand out is the monthly “moonbow” that’s visible at the falls on clear nights under a full moon. Check out the moonbow schedule here and plan a visit!
Eagle Falls | Honeybee, KY
Located downstream of Cumberland Falls, this 44-foot waterfall is worth checking out. Visitors rave about the 1.5-mile scenic hike to see Eagle Falls, which follows the cliff line and includes fantastic views of Cumberland Falls along the way. Look for Trail #9 at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.
Seventy Six Falls | Albany, KY
This stunning waterfall flows into the man-made Lake Cumberland in Albany, KY. It’s a popular spot for boaters to gather in the summertime and for those who are daring to jump from the surrounding cliffs into the water. However, several people have lost their lives this way, so jumping is certainly not advisable. Although the 40-foot waterfall is impressive, it must have been even more so before the lake’s creation, when it was an 84-foot waterfall. Check it out by boat or bring a lunch and view the falls from the top, where a picnic area is located just off KY-3062. A trail from the picnic area will take you safely down to the bottom of the falls.
Bridal Veil Falls | Highlands, NC
Not far from Dry Falls is another unique experience you shouldn’t miss if you’re in the area. Take U.S. Highway 64 west of Highlands for 2.5 miles, and you’ll have an opportunity to drive behind a 60-foot waterfall! Bridal Veil Falls is an excellent spot for pictures and an easy way to see one of North Carolina’s many waterfalls.
Crabtree Falls | Asheville, NC
A 2.7-mile loop trail will take you to this 70-foot waterfall just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 339.5. Park at the Crabtree Falls Recreation Area store and look for the Crabtree Falls Trailhead sign. When you get to the falls, you’ll have lots of opportunities for great photos, thanks to a bridge that extends across the front of the waterfall.
Cullasaja Falls | Highlands, NC
West of Highlands, NC, you can enjoy the Nantahala National Forest, which includes wonders such as Cullasaja Falls, which offers 250 feet of cascading falls. The hike to the falls is only about 0.2 miles there and back, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for nearly-instant gratification. And, as you can see, it’s beautiful in the autumn months.
Dry Falls | Highlands, NC
If you’re visiting Highlands, check out Dry Falls, a 75-foot waterfall that got its name because visitors can walk underneath the falls and stay dry! You’ll find the overlook for this waterfall off U.S. Highway 64 in the Nantahala National Forest. A short trail takes you beneath the overhang of the waterfall’s towering cliff.
Elk Falls | Elk Park, NC
This 50-foot waterfall on the Tennessee/North Carolina border in Pisgah National Forest is also popular with locals as a swimming hole. An easy five-minute hike from the base of the falls will take you to the top. Elk Falls is also known as Big Falls — don’t let the name change confuse you if you see it on signs in the area.
Hickory Nut Falls | Lake Lure, NC
Don’t visit Chimney Rock State Park without taking the short trail to awe-inspiring Hickory Nut Falls. This 404-foot waterfall is the second highest east of the Mississippi. It’s also the setting for several memorable scenes from The Last of the Mohicans.
Looking Glass Falls | Brevard, NC
Considered to be one of North Carolina’s most beautiful waterfalls, Looking Glass Falls is also one of the easiest to get to. You’ll find a parking area for the falls on U.S. Highway 276 near Brevard, NC. Check it out from the parking lot’s viewing area, or take the short trail to see this 60-foot waterfall up close.
Whitewater Falls | Cashiers, NC
The hike to Whitewater Falls is only about half a mile round trip, but this short, family-friendly hike is saturated with fabulous views — you’ll even get a look at Lake Jocassee along the way! There’s also a picnic area near the trailhead, perfect for fueling up before or after your hike. If you’re visiting Asheville for a weekend, this hike is a fabulous way to get out and enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway without spending too much time outside town.
With summer in full swing, now is the time to plan your next trip and check out some of the natural wonders the South offers. Have fun, and be safe! All photos by Lindsey Ferrier unless otherwise noted.
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