The Appalachian Mountains are an amazing geographic wonder that has undergone eons of natural erosion. Estimated to once have been as tall as the Alps, this mountain chain has rounded out due to time and, of course, water. Streams sourced from snowfall and mountain springs cascade down these mountains, often crashing over cliffs and boulders as waterfalls. North Carolina alone has over 300 documented waterfalls, many of which exist around the Asheville area.
Of course, finding all 300 waterfalls, or even just those around Asheville, is going to pose some issues as most lie deep in the forest far from roads, and some far from hiking trails. Other waterfalls are only accessible via private land or are inaccessible by normal travel at all. But that’s not true for all the greater Asheville area’s waterfalls. Some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state are easily accessible, offering simple drive-up viewing with either just a short hike or no hike at all. Just take a look at the following outstanding Asheville drive-up waterfalls that you can enjoy on your scenic ride through the area:
Take the Scenic Route: Asheville’s Drive-By Waterfalls
Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls offers both fantastic views and swimming opportunities. You’ll find this waterfall just off of Pisgah Highway southwest of Asheville. While you can glimpse this 60-foot waterfall from the road, the best way to view it is to walk down the short steps to the waterfall’s base. Looking Glass Falls is a popular waterfall any day of the year, but especially during warm weather as local crowds often flock to these falls for the plunge pool at the bottom which offers exceptional swimming opportunities.
Soco Falls is located off of Wolfetown Road in Maggie Valley and is actually a set of two waterfalls that cascade over a series of cliffs in one general area. You will need to follow a short trail to reach the overlook or observation deck for this one, but the hike is very easy. Like what you see? You can continue down a dirt path to the base of both waterfalls.
Glassmine Falls is one of several waterfalls with overlooks located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The overlook for this waterfall is located near Milepost 362 and is well-marked. You’ll find the pull-off overlooking a valley and the surrounding hills with Glassmine Falls further out in the distance These falls crash over 800 feet from the Blackstock Knob Mountain down into a plunge pool and stream that flows west into the North Fork Swannanoa River. The name for the falls is sourced from an old mine near the base of the falls that once pulled the mineral mica, often called glass by miners, out of the ground.
Toxaway Falls is located right along Highway 64, but it is easy to miss as it doesn’t quite look like most Asheville waterfalls. That’s because where many Asheville and North Carolina walls plunge directly over cliffs and waterfalls, Toxaway Falls slides down a colorful series of bedrocks. Think of it more as a rolling waterfall that slides down from the Toxaway Dam and reforms into the Toxaway River that will flow across the state lines until finally ending at Lake Jocassee.
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is quite possibly the most convenient waterfall to view on this list of Asheville’s Drive-By Waterfalls. In fact, for many, many generations, it was a waterfall you could actually drive your vehicle or wagon behind thanks to there being a massive opening beneath the cliff these waterfalls plunge behind. For overall safety, the section of road that traverses behind the falls has been closed off to vehicles in recent years, but you can still easily park and walk that way. You can also choose to do just as our headline suggests, and enjoy a quick drive-by glimpse as you take US Highway 64 to or from the town of Highlands, NC.
Don’t just stop at Bridal Veil Falls! Just a further east on US Highway 64 is another fantastic North Carolina waterfall called Dry Falls. Dry Falls can be viewed from its designated wayside parking area, but you will need to commit to a short hike for the best viewing experience. Especially if you want to, like with Bridal Veil Falls, follow a walking path behind the cascading waters. The name of Dry Falls comes from the fact that you can walk behind these waterfalls and be completely dry due to the way they cascade off of the overhead rocks.
French Broad Overlook
You’ll find the French Broad Overlook early on the Blue Ridge Parkway as you take it south from Asheville. This is a fantastic overlook that is easily accessible and offers gorgeous views of the French Broad River and a portion of its river valley. While there are no named waterfalls here, following the spring snow melts, you will see dozens of streams falling as tiny waterfalls into the French Broad River.
Walnut Cove Overlook
This is another overlook that doesn’t exactly showcase named waterfalls, but it is a stop you should make as you complete a scenic route around Asheville. You will find the Walnut Cove Overlook and its small parking area near Milepost 396 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here, you can enjoy looking out across Mills River as well as its river valley and the mountains rising behind. For those hungry for a bit of a hike, you can access the Mountains to Sea and Shut-in Trail from this point.
Let Waterfalls Be the Way You Journey & Asheville Your Destination
Going waterfall chasing is a wonderful way to explore the greater Asheville and North Carolina area, but it’s certainly not all this gorgeous part of this country has to offer. Check out other pages to learn more about the attractions, dining establishments, festivals, and other unique activities and establishments Asheville has to offer.