Hiking & Waterfall Guide
Looking to hike or see our beautiful local waterfalls? Here are a few suggestions, ordered based on their difficulty level:
Green Mountain Creek Falls
This waterfall doesn’t have an official name, but it is along the Green Mountain Creek and drops 20 feet into a shallow pool.
Access is located off Highway 221, about 8 miles from Main Street of Blowing Rock, NC. The falls are on the right side of the road with a pull-off on either side of the falls themselves.
A series of small cascades, this is less of a standard waterfall and more of a beautiful water ribbon.
To get to this, you will need to travel 6 miles south on Highway 321 from Blowing Rock and turn right on Waterfalls Road, State Route 1372. The falls themselves are located 1.7 miles down the way with a small pull-off closeby.
Falls at Rough Ridge Overlook
This waterfall is a set of small “slide” falls from the Blue Ridge Parkway and their presentation depends greatly on rainfall. In a drier season the water is far more heard than it is seen. The overlook for it is located at milepost 302.8, which has a parking area with a sign where the falls can be viewed from the walkway. There is also a bridge over the falls, but the trail to get to it is fairly steep so you’ll need to go slow.
Laurel Creek Falls
Some of the locals call this place “Trash Can Falls” because it used to be a site of where a recycling unit and dumpster sat because it is the trailhead. It’s a popular swimming spot for the locals and you can find it if you travel north on Highway 321 from Boone. Turn left to follow 321N toward Johnson City (at “Skateworld”). Access to the trail is at 5.4 miles and on the left. It is just after Laurel Creek Road. The pull-off for parking is on the right. The trail itself is 0.15 miles away and is a little steep.
Elk River Falls
These falls are one of the largest in the area and relatively easily accessible. To get to them, take Highway 194 to 19E, about 26 miles from Blowing Rock, NC; turn onto Old Mill Road at “Elk Park Christian Church” sign and look for the signs further down the road for the falls. Turn right on Elk River Road after about half a mile. Continue on this new road for around 4 miles ’til you reach the Pisgah Forest parking area. The trail to get to the falls is about a quarter of a mile long but has steep wooden steps. that reach the top of the 60 foot tall straight falls. There’s a pool at the bottom that is a great swimming spot too!
A narrow stream of cascading falls. The trail is 1.2 mile loop trail begins at E.B. Jeffress Park, which is at milepost 272 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. As it’s on that famous parkway, there is plenty of parking, restrooms and a picnic area. Be careful of the very steep wooden steps that are close to the falls.
The largest falls in the area in terms of sheer volume, this waterfall sits in the Linville Gorge National Wilderness Area. As it’s in a preserved area, it takes a little bit to get to the trail itself and the gorge/waterfall. To get there, Head to Linville Falls Road from milepost 316 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It will be a dead-end road that leads straight into the parking lot and visitor’s center for the trail. There are two portions of the trail: the upper falls, which is about half a mile past the parking lot and straightforward but steep; it connects to 3 overlooks that end at 0.8 miles from the Visitor’s Center. Much harder trails that wrap around the gorge will allow for great photo opportunity at the bottom of the gorge; if you take this option, it’s a good idea to keep a compass on you and notate which direction you headed in as the trails are not well marked.
Glen Burney Trail Falls
This is a difficult trail that’s right in the downtown of Blowing Rock, NC and many are surprised to find it. Its start is within the Annie Cannon Gardens on Laurel Lane and the trail includes three different falls in succession. These falls are “Cascades” (at 0.8 miles) “Glen Burney” (at 1.2 miles) “Glen Marie” (at 1.6 miles). There will be posted safety signs along the way: please make sure to take note of all these.
This waterfall is a collection of many small waterfalls and culminates in a wading pool that is a popular sunbathing spot in the summers. These falls are accessible off the north side Boone Fork Trail, which you can get to by the Price Park Picnic Area at milepost 297 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is 1.1 miles straight but then requires that you take the right fork to get to the falls.
Boone Fork Trail Falls
If you take the full 5-mile loop, you’ll see a group of small cascades a couple of larger ones from the trail. These are all along the Boone Fork River and its tributaries. The trail itself is difficult and crosses the river several times. Take care when hiking around the water, as moss and slippery rocks are common. If you’d like to try and take on this trail to see the falls, the trailhead begins at Julian Price Park picnic area, which is at Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 295. This trail shares space with Tanawha and Mountains-to-Sea Trail, so be sure to follow the trail marked with orange diamonds.
With 65 feet cascades, this fall is considered the most beautiful in the area. The loop trail is 2.6 miles and is located in Crabtree Meadows, milepost 340 on Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn into the campground and follow signs to the parking lot in front of the trailhead. It’s a well-established trail to it… but it’s also very rocky and pitted with roots from the surrounding trees. There is a bridge and bench at the base of the falls for the perfect viewing and a great photo opportunity.
Upper Creek Falls
This waterfall has a series of cascades that ends in a large pool that’s perfect for swimming. To get to the falls, head south Highway 181 after 5.8 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway exit. When traveling south on 181, make sure to keep an eye out for the “Pisgah Forest” signs on the left side of the road, just after “Gingercake Road”. This drive leads to a parking lot with multiple trailheads. The “Upper” and “Lower” will make up a 1.6 mile loop if you wade or rock-hop over the creek twice, following the yellow markings. As the names suggest, the “Upper” trail leads to the top of the large falls and the “Lower” trail leads to the bottom of the falls.
Want the water without the hiking? Look into going on a whitewater rafting trip through our many local tours!
Want to take in nature without all the water? Here are some options for both area hiking trails and hiking stores to get yourself suited up.