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Enjoying The Waterfalls in Highlands, NC

Highlands, NC, is located in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, which means that the high elevation and mountain ranges offer many opportunities for unique waterfalls. One of the best things about the waterfalls in Highlands, NC, is that many of the favorites are easily accessible. Rainbow Falls is popular because it can be viewed from all different angles and allows visitors to get up close to see the source of the falls.


Waterfall Swimming

There are a number of waterfalls in the region that are popular as swimming sites. The list includes Bust Your Butt Falls also known as Quarry Falls, along with Secret Falls also known as Big Shoals Falls. You’ll have to hike a little to reach both waterfalls in order to enjoy a dip in the cool water. There are plenty of large rocks situated along the waterside that are great spots for lounging, eating and enjoy the scenery.

Visitors can reach a host of other popular hiking trails and waterfalls within a short distance of Highlands, N.C.

Be sure to check with our staff for recommendations to the best hiking trails to see some of the most spectacular waterfalls in North Carolina.

After a day exploring hiking trails and waterfalls near Highlands, recharge for the next adventure here at The Park On Main Hotel. Many of our suites provide breathtaking views of the mountains to inspire the next hike. While visiting Highlands learn about a number of other local attractions to enjoy.

Dry Falls

Fall-ing in Love

The hills may not be alive in Highlands, North Carolina, but sometimes it may feel that way. That blissfully wild, winding trek through the Southern Appalachian Mountains takes sojourners with sudden feminine exuberance to a place in the blue skies. Highlands is aptly named; at 4,118 feet above sea level, it is one of the highest elevations east of the Mississippi River. Thus, high lands.

Asheville's tourism site provides visitors with several hot sports for nature lovers:

Blue Ridge Mountain Bridge

  • Hikers can walk behind the raging 75-foot Highlands’ Dry Falls just outside of the town on U.S. 64. The waters from the Nantahala National Forest roar over the overhanging cliff.
  • Secret Falls remains a secret to many visitors to Highlands. The 50-foot Big Creek waterfall plunges into a delicate pool in the Nantahala National Forest. Located 6.5 miles from Highlands, Secret Falls is difficult to find. Take Horse Cove Road from Highlands’ Main Street. Turn right on Walking Stick Road. Go right at the fork in the road; turn right on FR 4567. Secret Falls will be on the left. Watch for a blue sign.

The majority of visitors to Western North Carolina are ready to enjoy time outdoors with a little adventure. There is a lot to do in this region of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Kayaking and white water rafting near Highlands, N.C. attracts visitors to the region.

Frozen Waterfall

Head to The River

The Cullasaja River and the Chattanooga River attracts visitors to kayak and raft the waterways. Since both rivers are within driving distance of Highlands, they provide a great day trip experience.

White water rafting & kayaking are both popular water sports near Highlands, N.C. Many tourists inquire about the differences. The type of equipment used is the difference of both activities. A kayak is similar to a canoe with space for one person and sits low in the water. In contrast a raft, usually inflatable, is used to navigate the waterway and can hold several people at once.


Find a Guided Trip or Outfitter

Whatever your skill level, there are a number of options available depending on experience. Although some tourist are comfortable on their own, others will opt for a guided trip. The outfitters in the region are knowledgeable about area rivers and can suggest challenging guided excursions.


Tips for First-Time Whitewater Rafting

  • Expect to get wet. Wear waterproof clothing
  • Keep your life vest & protective gear on during trip
  • Use sunscreen
  • Listen to your guide & follow instructions
  • Remember to have fun & enjoy the ride

Also when planning your trip, inquire about any specific instructions or equipment needed prior to arrival such as age limits or other restrictions. Special arrangements may need to be made depending on the size of your group so everyone will have a great experience.

Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing in Cattooga River

If you’re looking for fun things to do in the area, going fly fishing on the Chattooga River is one of the most popular options available. Fly fishing spots at the Chattooga River are less than 40 miles away from Highlands. The most popular places to set up camp along this wild river are the Burrells Ford Campground and the Cherry Hill campground.