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Sunburst Falls (How to Find this Amazing Roadside Waterfall!)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on April 18, 2024.

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Sunburst Falls is a stunning roadside waterfall that needs to be on your Western NC itinerary. It’s certainly on ours for at least a few reasons.

For starters, it’s a lovely waterfall to watch. Sunburst Falls is also an easy day trip from Asheville, and it’s near the beautiful mountain towns of Brevard and Waynesville.

Finally, the drive to Sunburst Falls is gorgeous, especially in the fall months. It’s just off the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway section of NC Highway 215, one of our favorite driving roads.

Sunburst Falls Haywood County

We created this guide to help you get there, and here’s precisely how we’ve organized it:

  • Where is Sunburst Falls?
  • Leave No Trace Reminder
  • How to See Sunburst Falls (Driving Directions and Parking Info)
  • Safety Info
  • Why You Shouldn’t Swim at Sunburst Falls
  • Things to Do Nearby

You can skip to any section or continue reading about driving directions to this beautiful place in the mountains of North Carolina.

Read More: 25+ Beautiful North Carolina Road Trips (Scenic Byways and Highways)

Where is Sunburst Falls NC?

Address for Driving Directions: Sunburst Falls, Canton, NC 28716

Sunburst Falls top tier

Sunburst Falls is inside Pisgah National Forest, and the waters flow from the West Fork of the Pigeon River. The waters of Sunburst Falls flow over several tiers before crashing down in the valley below and through a historic 1937 stone bridge. 

You can reach Sunburst Falls from Asheville west towards Canton on I-40. It is 37 miles from downtown Asheville, about an hour away.

The waterfall is also close to these wonderful small towns:

No matter where you’re traveling from, the final portion of the drive is along NC-215.

The section of this road that includes Sunburst Falls is part of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. This scenic road has beautiful spots to pull over and enjoy the cold mountain streams.

You can plan your trip to Sunburst Falls and nearby with our North Carolina Travel Map and Western North Carolina Map.

Read More: Map of Waterfalls in Western NC (50+ of the Best and Most Beautiful!)

Leave No Trace Reminder

While visiting Sunburst Falls, we ask you to PLEASE leave no trace. Pack in, pack out, and please do not ever litter in our beloved public spaces.

If you’d like to lend a helping hand, bring a grocery bag and pick up any trash you see!

How to See Sunburst Falls (Driving Directions)

Lake Logan Haywood County NC
Lake Logan.
  • From Asheville:
    • You can reach Sunburst Falls from Asheville by driving west towards Canton on I-40.
    • Take Exit 37 and take the second exit in the traffic circle, which is NC-110 South.
    • Continue for five miles until NC-110 becomes NC-215.
    • After passing Lake Logan, continue going north for 7.4 miles.
    • After driving past Lake Logan, you will go past the community of Sunburst and Sunburst Campground.
    • Not long after that will be the pull-off area for parking on the right before Sunburst Falls.
    • There is room for 4-5 cars before the bend in the road where the bridge is. However, we’ve noticed that visitors also just pull off the side of the road and walk over the bridge to see the different vantage points.  
  • From the Blue Ridge Parkway:
    • If you drive to Sunburst Falls via the Blue Ridge Parkway, exit at Milepost 423.3.
    • Take NC-215 North, and you’ll pass the trailhead for Wildcat Falls and the roadside Bubbling Spring Falls.
    • The waterfall pull-off will be on the left side after 4.2 miles and just past the waterfall.

Cell service is not good along NC-215, so please screenshot these directions for later reference. 

Read More: 40+ Great Things to Do in Boone and Nearby (The Boone Bucket List!)

Safety Info

Drone above Sunburst Falls

We urge caution while walking on the road to look closer at Sunburst Falls. 

While it is said to be accessible at the base, we have never seen any safe or easy navigatable spots to climb down. Photos above were taken with a drone and not from the base of the falls. 

Visitors can rock scramble to get a closer view of the top tiers of the waterfall.

Can You Swim at Sunburst Falls?

    People at Sunburst Falls

There are giant boulders and shallow pools at the base of the falls. However, we do not recommend swimming here as slipping and falling could be a dangerous risk. 

Ready to Visit Sunburst Falls?

While we don’t recommend swimming at Sunburst Falls, we still think this is one of the most beautiful roadside waterfalls in the state. You don’t have to get in, but you can certainly spend a while admiring this lovely waterfall.

Have you ever visited Sunburst Falls? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

If you haven’t visited yet, we also want to hear about your first experience there.

Don’t forget to share your adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.

Things to Do Near Sunburst Falls NC

Sunburst Falls is surrounded by some wonderful places in Western NC. Here’s a breakdown of stops you should make if you’ve got some extra time.

  • Forest Heritage Scenic Byway Stops
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Stops Nearby
  • Mountain Towns Nearby

Read More: 15 of the Best Day Trips in North Carolina

Nearby Forest Heritage Scenic Byway Stops

Kid Friendly Waterfalls in North Carolina French Broad Falls

As mentioned, Sunburst Falls lies along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. Here are a few other highlights along that gorgeous drive, which follows NC-215 and US-276.

  • NC-215 Forest Heritage Byway Stops:
    • French Broad Falls and Bird Rock Falls/Cathedral Falls (25 minutes from Sunburst Falls): Continue south on NC-215 for 13 miles and arrive at French Broad Falls, also known as Mill Shoals. You can reach Bird Rock Falls after a short half-mile hike on the same property, which is owned by Living Waters Ministry. Please be respectful of the land and private property you’re visiting.
    • Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (30 minutes from Sunburst Falls): Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) is an observatory about 30 minutes south of Sunburst Falls on NC-215 from Sunburst Falls. Once the home to the birth of modern satellite technology, PARI now specializes in STEM education and remains a world-class research facility. You can’t visit PARI without permission, so please call ahead if interested.

Read More: Gorgeous Waterfalls near Cherokee (Within 2 Hours)

Looking Glass Falls Outside Brevard NC
  • US-276 Forest Heritage Scenic Byway Stops:
    • Cradle of Forestry (35 minutes away): When it’s open from April 21 to November, visit and explore many hands-on exhibits for all ages and learn about the birthplace of modern forestry yourself! There are also trails, a cafe, and a gift shop.
    • Sliding Rock Falls (40 minutes away): On warm days (and even cold days), people travel to slide down this 60-foot stone into the chilly 7-foot-deep pool. Times and hours change, but there is usually a $4 admission fee (free for ages three or younger) and a lifeguard on duty at Sliding Rock from April through October. It is free to enter during the off-season, but the amenities are closed, and there are NO lifeguards on duty.
    • Moore Cove Falls Trail (40 minutes away): Sometimes, Moore Cove Falls is less waterfall and more trickle, but this 50-foot waterfall is still worth visiting. You can reach it via an easy 1.5-mile roundtrip hike, which starts right off the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. Moore Cove is one of the few waterfalls you can walk behind, but we recommend caution and proper footwear if you plan to do so.
    • Looking Glass Falls (45 minutes away): This 60-foot roadside waterfall is one of the most popular in North Carolina, and for good reason! Looking Glass Falls is easy to access, as you can drive right up and enjoy the beautiful view from the road. Venture down the steps if you’re able for an even closer look.

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

Nearby Blue Ridge Parkway Stops

Devils Courthouse NC View West

The Forest Heritage Scenic Byway isn’t the only scenic road near Sunburst Falls. NC’s most popular byway, the Blue Ridge Parkway, is right around the corner, too.

Here are some stops and hikes nearby:

  • Devil’s Courthouse (Milepost 422.4, 10 minutes away): The closest Blue Ridge Parkway entrance (Milepost 423.3) will lead you north to Devil’s Courthouse, which is a short and steep hike and would pair perfectly with your adventures. 
  • Black Balsam Knob (MP 420.2, 20 minutes away): The Black Balsam Knob hike is among the most rewarding mountain bald hikes. It’s part of the famed Art Loeb Trail, is only 1.4 miles roundtrip, and is excellent for a morning or afternoon trek with the family.
  • Graveyard Fields (MP 418.8, 20 minutes away): If you need a restroom stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Graveyard Fields is one of the few trailheads with a toilet. It’s also the start of the Graveyard Fields Loop Trail, an easy hike to a spectacular waterfall. A longer hike will take you to another lesser-visited waterfall.
  • Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower (MP 409.6, 40 minutes away): You can reach the stairs to Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower via a 0.75-mile hike (1.5 miles roundtrip). While the actual fire tower is locked, you can climb five stories and enjoy sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Pisgah Inn (MP 408.6, 35 minutes away): The Pisgah Inn is one of the best places to stay along the road. There’s a visitor center and gift shop here if you’re looking for some BRP souvenirs. Of course, a meal at the Pisgah Inn makes this one of the best Blue Ridge Parkway food stops. The views from your table will make it even better.

Read More: How to Visit the Awesome North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville

Nearby Mountain Towns

Finally, here are a few NC mountain towns within a reasonable drive from Sunburst Falls.

  • Waynesville
  • Brevard
  • Asheville
  • Hendersonville

Waynesville

18 miles away (30 minutes)

Waynesville downtown in the Fall

Waynesville is your closest option from Sunburst Falls. It is the largest town in Haywood County, home to adorable shops and excellent restaurants on Main St and in nearby Frog Level.

The town is also surrounded by beautiful outdoor scenery. Enjoy walking on its brick sidewalks while admiring the town’s historic buildings.

You’ll also find the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts in Waynesville, typically open from May to October.

And if you’re into big events, check out October’s Apple Harvest Festival and Folkmoot, with the latter celebrating both Cherokee and Appalachian cultures.

If you’re looking for a place to stay near Sunburst Falls, start with The Swag. It’s one of the state’s most luxurious hotels.

Read More: 20+ Amazing Things to Do in Maggie Valley (and Nearby!)

Brevard

30 miles away (50 minutes)

Things to do in Brevard NC toy stoore

Brevard is largely known as the “land of waterfalls,” thanks to its proximity to the already mentioned Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, and more.

Gorges State Park is also near Brevard, and is the gateway to the epic Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls.

There’s also a really cool downtown here, and it’s filled with shops and great places to eat. Head over to Brevard College for a “chance” at seeing one of those famed white squirrels if you can.

Speaking of trails, Brevard (and Hendersonville) is near DuPont State Recreational Forest. This picturesque forest is home to some lovely hiking trails and biking trails.

It’s also where you’ll find some wonderful waterfalls, including:

Read More: Upper Whitewater Falls (How to See NC’s Highest Waterfall)

Asheville

37 miles away (55 minutes)

Downtown Asheville streets

Sunburst Falls is located south of Asheville, the largest city in the NC mountains.

Beyond using it as a base for nearby hikes and waterfalls, Asheville is home to luxurious places like Biltmore Estate and The Omni Grove Park Inn.

The city is perfect for a winter getaway, thanks to milder weather, great events like Christmas at Biltmore, and more!

Throughout the year, though, we think you’ll love eating and walking around downtown, tasting some of NC’s finest beer at local breweries, and exploring the area’s arts scene.

Read More: Asheville River Arts District and Nearby (20+ Essential Things to Do!)

Hendersonville

53 miles away (1 hour 10 minutes)

Things to Do in Hendersonville NC Downtown

We love Hendersonville and have been enjoying all the fun things to do there for years. Its downtown is home to excellent shops, a cozy atmosphere, and great restaurants.

A handful of breweries and some of the state’s best wineries (including Burntshirt Vineyards) are also here and waiting for you to stop by.

Hendersonville hosts the annual NC Apple Festival. Due to Henderson County‘s high concentration of orchards, the area offers some of the best apples for picking in North Carolina.

Head out to nearby Laurel Park and visit Jump Off Rock, a great scenic overlook. There are a few hiking trails there, too, which are among the best in the area.

Read More: 25 Wonderful Wineries Near Asheville (Vineyards Within 2 Hours)

More Things to Do Near Sunburst Falls NC

We’ve featured Sunburst Falls and surrounding places in many of our North Carolina Travel Guides. Here are a few of them.

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