One of the more spectacular waterfalls in North Carolina can be found just north of the South Carolina state line in Jackson County. Whitewater Falls is a spectacular 411-foot cascade of the Whitewater River.
The falls are considered as the highest in the state; and depending on the source, the highest east of the Rocky Mountains. The falls are also known as the Upper Whitewater Falls - another set of falls two miles downstream in South Carolina are known as the Lower Whitewater Falls.
The falls are located within Nantahala National Forest and are easily accessible from a parking area off of NC Highway 281. At the parking area, there is a $3 fee that is via the honor system. The fee is to help with the upkeep of the falls area and throughout Nantahala National Forest. From the parking area, it is an easy hike along a paved walkway of about a 1/4 mile or so to the upper viewing point.
The views here are impressive; however, there is a staircase that leads to an even better vantage point.
If you take the 154 steps down to the lower observation deck, you won't be disappointed. The entire cascade occurs in front of your own eyes. I took my tripod on this trip - and I am glad that I did. Even though I must admit, I was out of practice on shooting waterfalls. I easily spent over thirty minutes here taking photos but also stepping away to enjoy the beauty, majesty, and power of the falls. And you can't forget the roaring sound that comes from the falls!
From here, you may explore another trail that descends over 600 feet in elevation over a half-mile hike to the Foothills Trails. I didn't take this hike. Regardless, it is strongly advised to stay on the trails. The terrain is extremely rocky, slippery, and steep drops. There have been several instances of visitors being severely injured or dying from going off the trails. So as always, be careful!
I was completely amazed at the beauty and power of these falls. I can guarantee you will feel the same!
All photos taken by post author - May 5, 2021
Sources & Links:
- Whitewater Falls ---Personal Photo Set on Flickr
- Whitewater Falls ---AshevilleHiking.com
- Upper Whitewater Falls ---Romantic Asheville
- Upper Whitewater Falls ---NCTripping.com
How To Get There: