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French Broad Falls (Mill Shoals) And Bird Rock Falls: How To Reach 3 Lovely Waterfalls In 1 Hike!

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on March 11, 2024.

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French Broad Falls (a.k.a. Mill Shoals Falls) and Bird Rock Falls (Cathedral Falls) are three iconic NC waterfalls that you can reach in one short hike. Located in Balsam Grove, North Carolina (just 25 minutes from downtown Brevard and 50 miles from Asheville) and on private property, we’re so lucky to have access to them.

The first two of these amazing waterfalls are literally attached to each other and are collectively known as Mill Shoals. If you have a little more time, a short hike will lead you to the third waterfall (Bird Rock Falls, also known as Cathedral Falls).

We’ll offer more details about them all (including driving directions) in our guide. Here’s how we’ve organized things:

  • About French Broad Falls NC
  • Driving Directions
  • Reaching French Broad Falls (Mill Shoals)
  • Bonus Waterfall Hike: Bird Rock Falls (aka Cathedral Falls)
  • Nearby Waterfalls and Hikes
  • More Waterfalls in North Carolina (Related Posts)

Read More: Beautiful Waterfalls near Asheville

About French Broad Falls NC

The first two waterfalls (French Broad Falls, also known as Mill Shoals Falls) are twin waterfalls that sit beneath an iconic bright-red former mill. They can be seen from the road when you park.

The refurbished mill on the right of the two falls now belongs to Living Waters Ministry, a religious retreat in Balsam Grove. They have graciously allowed visitors to the falls.

Also on the property is Bird Rock Falls, also known as Cathedral Falls. We’ll mention more about it shortly.

Read More: Amazing Waterfalls near Brevard

Driving Directions to French Broad Falls

The beautiful red mill at Mill Shoals Falls and French Broad Falls is one of the most beautiful scenes in North Carolina.

These falls are located in Balsam Grove (Transylvania County), along the NC-215 section of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway that intersects with US-64 near Rosman and the Blue Ridge Parkway at Beech Gap.

While a bit of a windy drive, this road trip is one that is truly worth it. We included French Broad Falls in our map of waterfalls in Western NC if you’re ready to go!

Note that parking is limited, and you will most likely park alongside the road. Since these waterfalls are on private property, please remember to be respectful so we can continue to see this beautiful North Carolina gem. 

Read More: The Best NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes

Reaching French Broad Falls (Mill Shoals)

French Broad Falls Brevard NC

To reach French Broad Falls, you will need to descend a rocky trail–but don’t worry! Our 3-year-old could handle it, so this is a perfect family-friendly waterfall.

Once you see a private property sign, the trail will cut to the left towards the river.

Once at the river, you’ll see both waterfalls extending approximately 15 feet high where the French Broad River and Shoal Creek diverge. We recommend stopping for a picnic, as there are plenty of spots to enjoy a meal around the waterfalls!

Read More: 25+ Excellent Things to Do in Sylva and Dillsboro (+ More Nearby!)

Bonus Waterfall Hike: Bird Rock Falls (aka Cathedral Falls)

a woman at the base of French Broad Falls

If you want an extra treat, turn around and go downstream to see Bird Rock Falls (also known as Cathedral Falls).

Note that this trail is still on private property, so it may not be as well-maintained.

the French Broad Falls trail in the forest

A short 1/4-mile trek downstream will reveal another 15-ft waterfall encapsulated by a large rock face. While the waterfall is beautiful, the surrounding bluffs truly make the scene.

On one of our visits, the bluffs were filled with icicles breaking off one by one and crashing into the cold water. 

Read More: 20+ Kid-Friendly Waterfalls In NC (Easy Hikes And Swimming Holes!)

Ready to Visit these 3 Amazing Waterfalls?

a large waterfall and rock face near Brevard NC

We know you’ve probably put more popular falls like Looking Glass in your itinerary for Brevard. However, we also think you should spend time at French Broad Falls and Bird Rock Falls, too!

Easy to access, these waterfalls are the perfect spot for a picnic before jumping on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Just respect those who own the property and leave no trace! That way, we all can continue to enjoy these amazing waterfalls just as you have.

Have you ever visited this awesome collection of waterfalls? We’d love to know what you thought of them! Feel free to let us know in the comments and share your photos in our Facebook Group!

In case you haven’t made it out there yet, we hope you do soon!

Read More: 80+ Great Things to Do in Asheville (The Asheville Bucket List)

Nearby Waterfalls and Hikes

Upper Whitewater Falls lookout
Upper Whitewater Falls.

You can continue driving on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway to reach more waterfalls and hikes. The roadside Sunburst Falls is also on the NC-215 side of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and is certainly worth a stop.

We certainly have some suggestions for you if so! Nearby adventures include the aforementioned Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock. Also, Upper Whitewater Falls isn’t too far away, near the SC state line. The last one is not part of the FHSB but is absolutely worth a visit.

If you hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway from NC Highway 215, it is very easy to reach nearby Black Balsam Knob, one of our favorite hikes near Asheville.

Read More: The Wonderful NC Waterfall Byway (+ 15 Awesome Stops!)

More Waterfalls in North Carolina

More Things to Do in Brevard (and Nearby)

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