Whitewater Falls (via Parking Area)

Location: Western North Carolina
Trip Starts: NC 281
Trip Ends: NC 281
Total Distance: 5.1 miles
Hike Type: Roundtrip, Loop Hike
Hike Difficulty: Moderate
Trails Used: Foothills, Spur Trail
Trail Traffic: Moderate
Trip Type: Day or Overnight Hike
More Information:

Nantahala National Forest
Wayah Ranger District
Franklin, NC 28734


The Nantahala National Forest is the largest of the four national forests in North Carolina and is the the second wettest region in the country – after the Pacific Northwest. The word “Nantahala” is a Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun.” In some spots, the sun only reaches the floors of the deep gorges in the middle of the day. The National Forest has 531,270 acres with elevation ranging from 5,800 feet at Lone Bald in Jackson County to 1,200 feet in Cherokee County along the Hiwassee River.

Whitewater Falls, also called Upper Falls, is one of the highest falls east of the Rockies at 411 feet. This waterfall is designated a North Carolina Natural Heritage Area and it is accessible via a short 0.2 paved path off NC 281. The Foothills Trail passes near the Upper Whitewater Falls and this route is a loop hike that combines the Foothills Trail with a spur trail that crosses NC 281 near the Whitewater River bridge. There is a designated campsite along the spur trail, and a few other sites that are suitable for small groups that are looking for a nice overnight loop hike in this area.

GPS Coordinates:

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