Summertime is right around the corner and here in the south we love hanging out at the local swimming hole. It just so happens, many of our swimming holes are below beautiful waterfalls that dot the landscape of this region. Whether you’re a photographer or just an outdoors lover, the waterfalls in this part of the country are beautiful and each unique in their own way. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 favorites you should check out if you’re ever in the area!
1) Looking Glass Falls - North Carolina
Looking Glass Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in North Carolina, with a beautiful cascade around 60 feet high. This waterfall is located near Brevard, NC and within the Pisgah National Forest. Looking Glass is ideal for photography enthusiasts and a popular swimming hole during the hot summer months. This waterfall got it’s name by the brilliant shine off the rock face when the water freezes in the winter and looks like a mirror or looking glass.
2) Cumberland Falls - Kentucky
Located in Cumberland Falls State Park, this beautiful waterfall is on the Cumberland River in Southeastern Kentucky. This waterfall has been nicknamed “The Niagara of the South” by many locals and tourists alike. It's also one of the few places in North America where you can see a moonbow. This is when a rainbow is produced by moonlight rather than sunlight, and is caused by the refraction of light in the water droplets. The falls are 65 feet high and 125 feet wide, but when the Cumberland River is at flood stage the width of the falls can quickly expand to up to 300 feet!
3) Falls Creek Falls - Tennessee
Falls Creek Falls in Pikeville, TN is said to be one of the highest free-falling waterfalls east of the Mississippi at 256 feet. Fall Creek Falls State Park is Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park, and with so many trails and other waterfalls to view it’s easy to see why. This is also another great waterfall for photography fans as the trail will lead you to a gorgeous overlook. Coon Creek Falls also flows next to Falls Creek. It's smaller, but just as beautiful in a shot with both waterfalls together!
4) Toccoa Falls - Georgia
Toccoa Falls is located on the campus of Toccoa Falls College in Stephens County, GA. Toccoa is a Cherokee word which means “beautiful” and this waterfall is certainly fitting of it’s name. With a plunge of 186 feet, this waterfall is actually 26 feet higher than Niagara Falls! Toccoa Falls is beautiful during the fall season when the leaves at its base are turning bright reds and yellows. The campus of Toccoa Falls College where this waterfall is located is also worth exploring!
5) Whitewater Falls - North Carolina/ South Carolina
This incredible waterfall is huge, and is split into two sections; Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls. The upper section is in North Carolina, and the lower section .5 miles down the Whitewater River in South Carolina. By the time the river empties into Lake Jocassee, it has plummeted more than 700 feet in just over half a mile. Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies and is 60 miles from downtown Asheville in the Nantahala National Forest. This waterfall offers amazing swimming holes and big rocks to sit on and enjoy the views. It's also one of the most photographed waterfalls in North and South Carolina, so don’t forget your camera!
6) Burgess Falls - Tennessee
Located in Burgess Falls State Park, Burgess Falls is part of the Falling Water River. There are four waterfalls that travel over 250 feet in elevation, with the final drop being the most spectacular. This waterfall is very wide, and can make for some awesome pictures if you happen to bring your wide angle lens! When the water levels are high, the falls cover the entire cliff edge. At lower water it can be only the left or right sides flowing. Burgess is a must see and one of the most impressive waterfalls in Tennessee.
7) Crabtree Falls - North Carolina
Crabtree Falls is another beautiful NC waterfall that’s along the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 45 miles north of Asheville. There are different trail options to view the falls one more strenuous than the other, but either one is worth the amazing views of the falls. The falls plummet 70 feet along Big Crabtree Creek, and the water flows over a gorgeous rock face. This area is perfect for wildflower enthusiasts with four different species of Trillium often spotted here. If you’re driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway in this area, be sure to check out this amazing waterfall.
8) Falling Spring Falls - Virginia
This scenic 80 foot waterfall is located in Allegheny County near Covington, VA. Thomas Jefferson described the Falling Spring Falls as a "remarkable cascade...falling over a rock about 200 feet to the valley below." There is a great overlook to be able to take photos from and enjoy the view, and also a perfect swimming area. Falling Spring Falls is the perfect waterfall stop for a picnic as well. Supposedly, Thomas Jefferson also said he was "enchanted" by this waterfall and area, so this one is not to be missed!
9) Rainbow Falls - North Carolina
This NC waterfall is also located in the Pisgah National Forest, adjacent to Gorges State Park. The Horsepasture River runs over these falls into a 150 foot breathtaking cascade. With many different trails and observation points, Rainbow Falls can easily be viewed from many different vantage points. There are 3 other waterfalls along this stretch including Turtleback falls upstream. Black bears often frequent this area, so keep an eye out when you visit!
10) Cathedral Falls - West Virginia
Cathedral Falls is one of the highest and most majestic waterfalls in West Virginia. This 60 foot cascade falls into a natural amphitheater which is likely how this beauty got it’s name. You can safely get up close and personal with this waterfall and this is also a top spot for outdoor and waterfall photography. There are some shallow pools to cool off in, and you can get right underneath the falls to feel the mist if you like!
These are just some of the amazing waterfalls the Southeastern US has to offer. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods (or rivers!), be sure to check some of these out!