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25+ Amazing Waterfalls near Banner Elk (within 2 Hours’ Drive)

Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on November 3, 2023.

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Some of North Carolina‘s best hiking trails can be found in the High Country, often leading to beautiful scenery that includes waterfalls near Banner Elk and its neighbors.

You can find many of them in our guides to waterfalls near Boone and waterfalls near Blowing Rock but those Watauga County neighbors are each about 30 minutes away from Banner Elk.

Because of the distance between the three mountain towns, this article specifically focuses on sharing Banner Elk waterfalls, even if there will be some overlap.

We’ll also include info, including trail distances, tips about roadside falls, and more. Here’s how we’ve organized this guide to Banner Elk waterfalls, in case you’re searching for something specific:

  • List of Waterfalls near Banner Elk (ABC Order)
  • Before You Visit
    • Safety
    • Leave No Trace Reminder
  • Roadside Waterfalls near Banner Elk (from shortest to longest distance from Boone)
  • Hikes to Waterfalls near Banner Elk (from shortest to longest distance from Boone)

And when you’re ready to see all of these waterfalls and want to plan your trip, our Map of Waterfalls in Western NC will help you with that, too.

Read More: 100+ Wonderful Places to Visit in Western North Carolina

List of Waterfalls near Banner Elk, North Carolina

For this article, these waterfalls near Banner Elk have been grouped by distance from shortest to longest in minutes. We also grouped those that can be found on the same hike or protected area.

Here they are in alphabetical order:

  • Big Bear Falls (South Mountains State Park)
  • Big Creek Falls
  • Carter Falls
  • The Cascades (EB Jeffress Park)
  • Cascades Falls (Glen Burney Trail)
  • Catawba Falls
  • Crab Orchard Falls
  • Crabtree Falls
  • Duggers Creek Falls
  • Elk River Falls
  • Green Mountain Creek Falls
  • Glen Burney Falls (Glen Burney Trail)
  • Glen Marie Falls (Glen Burney Trail)
  • Hebron Falls
  • High Shoals Falls (South Mountains State Park)
  • Laurel Creek Falls (aka Trashcan Falls)
  • Linville Falls
  • Otter Falls
  • Roaring Fork Falls
  • Setrock Creek Falls
  • Silvervale Falls
  • Stone Mountain Falls (Stone Mountain State Park)
  • Upper Creek Falls
  • Waterfalls Park
  • Widow’s Creek Falls (Stone Mountain State Park)

Note: Travel times vary according to when you decide to travel, due to weather, traffic congestion, and other factors.

Read More: The North Carolina Travel Map (with 1000+ Great Places Included!)

Before You Visit these Waterfalls near Banner Elk

Before you visit these Banner Elk waterfalls, here are a few things to remember.


  • Staying on the trail is something we’ll always stress, but please don’t think you know better than official signage. Failing to stay on the path so can result in serious injury, especially around waterfalls.
  • Don’t hike to the top of these waterfalls. It may also seem like a good idea to venture to the top, but we do not suggest you do that. There are a variety of factors that could lead you to fall or lose control and get seriously injured. Once again, DO NOT hike to the top of these waterfalls near Boone.

Leave NO Trace Reminder

Leave no trace at these waterfalls so we can all enjoy them as you did. You can even help out by bringing a grocery bag of your own and picking up any trash that you see!

Roadside Waterfalls near Banner Elk

These roadside waterfalls near Banner Elk are among our absolute favorites. So don’t discount them because of the relative ease of reaching each one.

  • Big Creek Falls
  • Green Mountain Creek Falls
  • Silvervale Falls
  • Waterfalls Park

Read More: 10 Beautiful Roadside Waterfalls in North Carolina for Everyone!

Waterfalls Park

Banner Elk to Waterfalls Park: 12 miles (18 minutes)

Waterfalls Park Newland NC

Located in Newland, Waterfalls Park is the first of a few roadside waterfalls near Banner Elk that we will mention. It’s a beautiful double cascade that you can view directly from the road and bridge in front of it.

For a closer look at the waterfall, you can hike up and to the left. The area is maintained by the Newland volunteer fire department and is dotted with several picnic tables.

Read More: Airbnbs in Boone

Green Mountain Creek Falls

Banner Elk to Green Mountain Creek Falls: 19 miles (33 minutes)

Waterfall near Blowing Rock

Green Mountain Creek Falls is a roadside waterfall just a 30-minute drive from Banner Elk. The 20-foot waterfall sits closer to Boone on a section of Highway 221 known as the Little Parkway, and we’ve mentioned it before when sharing our favorite North Carolina road trips.

Green Mountain Creek Falls sits at a bend in the road and continues to flow under it. You’ll park your car across the winding road from the waterfall and can view from above.

Read More: 20 of the Best Day Trips from Boone (Within a 2-Hour Drive)

Silvervale Falls

Banner Elk to Silvervale Falls: 28 miles (48 minutes)

Waterfalls near Boone Silvervale Falls

Silvervale Falls is the furthest of our roadside waterfalls from Banner Elk. The slow and gentle waterfall stands at 70 feet.

From Banner Elk, Silvervale is 48 minutes on US-105 and US-321. The falls is two miles down the aptly named Waterfalls Road. There are several parking spots along the road, but you won’t find much traffic on this country road.

Read More: 13 Amazing Restaurants in Banner Elk and Nearby (+ Where to Drink!)

Big Creek Falls

Banner Elk to Big Creek Falls: 58 miles (1 hour 21 minutes)

Things to Do in Burnsville North Carolina Big Creek Falls Roadside Waterfall

Big Creek Falls is technically a roadside waterfall that is in the northwestern reaches of Yancey County, about 30 minutes from Burnsville. We say “technically” because you can sometimes barely see the waterfall from the road during warmer months.

That’s why we suggest you get out of your car (if you can) for a closer look. A short, steep, and sometimes slippery descent down a rocky stairway will take you to a better view of this gorgeous waterfall.

Read More: 13 Amazing Restaurants in Burnsville (Best of the Best!)

Hikes to Waterfalls Near Banner Elk

Explore these waterfalls near Banner Elk that are accessible via hikes ranging from short to pretty lengthy.

  • Big Bear Falls (South Mountains State Park)
  • Carter Falls
  • The Cascades
  • Cascades Falls (Glen Burney Trail)
  • Catawba Falls
  • Crab Orchard Falls
  • Crabtree Falls
  • Duggers Creek Falls
  • Elk River Falls
  • Glen Burney Falls (Glen Burney Trail)
  • Glen Marie Falls (Glen Burney Trail)
  • Hebron Falls
  • Laurel Creek Falls (aka Trash can Falls)
  • High Shoals Falls (South Mountains State Park)
  • Linville Falls
  • Otter Falls
  • Roaring Fork Falls
  • Setrock Creek Falls
  • Stone Mountain Falls (Stone Mountain State Park)
  • Upper Creek Falls
  • Widow’s Creek Falls (Stone Mountain State Park)

Read More: Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Banner Elk (7 Important Tips Before You Go!)

Crab Orchard Falls

Banner Elk to Crab Orchard Falls: 6 miles (15 minutes)
Trail length: 1-mile round trip

Boone Waterfalls Crab Orchard Falls

A slow and gentle flow makes Crab Orchard Falls one of the most serene waterfalls to relax next to. It’s only five minutes away from the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, and the trail to Crab Orchard Falls starts at the Valle Crucis Conference Center.

At the end of this steep one-mile round trip hike, we hope you enjoy the cool mountain water.

Read More: 20+ Wonderful Things To Do In Banner Elk (Events + Food)

Otter Falls

Banner Elk to Otter Falls: 9 miles (17 minutes)
Trail length: 1.2 miles round trip

Otter Falls is one of the most serene waterfalls near Boone and Banner Elk you'll find.

We’d be letting you down if we didn’t include Otter Falls, one of our favorite waterfalls near Banner Elk. The 1.2-mile round-trip hike is strenuous, but there are plenty of views of the falls along the way.

The park is a collection of four short trails, including two loop trails. All sit inside the resort community of Seven Devils, funded by several donors from the community in 2015.

Note that the Yellow trail dead ends at a non-existent overlook. With a quick change of elevation of 230 feet, you’ll be rewarded with a nice observation deck to view the falls.

Read More: Winter in Boone (20 Great Activities, Snow Tubing, and More!)

Elk River Falls

Banner Elk to Elk River Falls: 12 miles (23 minutes)
Trail length: 0.5 miles round trip

Elk River Falls is one of the largest and most popular waterfalls near Banner Elk.

Probably one of the most photogenic waterfalls near Banner Elk is Elk River Falls, a 50-foot plunging waterfall. It is a short 1/3-mile trail one way to the falls (2/3 mile round trip) with some steep steps and roots along the way.

However, the views are absolutely worth any trouble along the way. This waterfall is also the most dangerous of all we’ll mention in this guide. Please practice caution and never jump from the top.

Read More: Hiking Roan Mountain from Carvers Gap, NC (Beautiful AT Views)

Hebron Falls (Boone Fork Falls)

Banner Elk to Hebron Falls (Boone Fork Trail): 15 miles (25 minutes)
Trail length: 5-mile loop

Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes Boone Fork Trail

Boone Fork Trail is an almost 5-mile loop that starts at Julian Price Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 25 minutes away from Banner Elk. The trail leads through diverse terrain, crossing its namesake Boone Fork River at many turns.

Hebron Falls (Boone Fork Falls) is about 1.5 miles into the hike from the campground and is one of our favorites to watch!

Read More: Amazing Hikes near Boone and Blowing Rock (45 of the Best!)

Upper Creek Falls

Banner Elk to Upper Creek Falls: 19 miles (28 minutes)
Trail length: 1-mile round trip

Upper Creek Falls Pisgah National Forest NC

If you’re looking for a swimming hole waterfall near Banner Elk, Upper Creek Falls is the perfect spot! This cascading waterfall drops 80 feet over a gradual slope and even has a rope for some Tarzan-esque fun.

Just be careful and don’t go alone because there is no lifeguard on duty.

Read More: Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk

Laurel Creek Falls (Trashcan Falls)

Banner Elk to Laurel Creek Falls: 12 miles (27 minutes)
Trail length: 0.3 miles round trip

Trash Can Falls Waterfall near Boone

Known as Trash Can Falls by App State students because a dumpster is used to mark the trailhead, Laurel Creek Falls is one of the most popular swimming hole waterfalls near Banner Elk. The trail is very short at 0.15 miles and well-maintained, but it is fairly steep.

When you reach the parking lot, cross the street for the trail. Don’t worry if you’re confused upon arrival–we were too! We didn’t have service when we arrived and were a bit confused to see people wading in the stream next to the parking lot.

Seeing people walking from the trail across the road confirmed our suspicions that there was more to see.

Note: This waterfall gets very crowded throughout much of the year and sits on private property. If you visit, please be respectful of the next person who wants to visit and especially the people who live in the area.

Read More: 30+ Great Things to Do in Boone (Hikes, Eats, and More in App Town)

Duggers Creek Falls

Banner Elk to Duggers Creek Falls: 19 miles (30 minutes)
Trail length: 0.6 miles roundtrip

Duggers Creek Falls North Carolina Linville Falls

Linville Falls is next but we hope you don’t forget about Duggers Creek Falls. This waterfall near Banner Elk is a short distance from the same parking lot and the Linville Falls Visitors Center.

The 10-foot waterfall sits in an alcove at the end of a short 3/10-mile hike.

Read More: 20+ Delicious Restaurants in Boone for Your Next Meal Out!

Linville Falls

Banner Elk to Linville Falls: 19 miles (30 minutes)
Trail length: Various trails but the most popular is 1.6 miles round trip

Linville Falls Burke County NC

Banner Elk is also very close to the tallest waterfalls in the area. Linville Falls in Burke County cascades over multiple levels and is truly a sight to behold. The falls is in the Linville Gorge Wilderness, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians.”

Starting from the visitor’s center, there are three viewing stations to see these rushing waterfalls. If you are feeling strong and it hasn’t rained recently, you can see great views from the Plunge Basin trail (1.4 miles) into the gorge.

While you’re in the area, drive the rough road that leads to Wiseman’s View for one of our favorite overlooks in all of North Carolina! From there, you can see Table Rock Mountain and Hawksbill Mountain among other Linville Gorge highlights.

Read More: Things to Do in Morganton and Burke County

Glen Burney Trail (3)

Banner Elk to Glen Burney Falls: 18 miles (33 minutes)
Trail length: 3 miles round trip for all three waterfalls

Glen Burney Falls is our favorite of all the waterfalls near Blowing Rock.

The Glen Burney Trail is 30 minutes from Banner Elk and its trailhead sits across Annie Cannon Gardens in downtown Blowing Rock. You’ll descend for nearly 2 miles on an ancient Native American path that takes you to three waterfalls.

The three waterfalls on this trail are the Cascades at 0.8 miles, Glen Burney at 1.2, and Glen Marie at 1.6 from the trailhead. Of them all, we think Glen Burney is the one waterfall you must see on this Blowing Rock trail!

Read More: Delicious Blowing Rock Restaurants for High Country Travelers

The Cascades (EB Jeffress Park)

Banner Elk to Cascades Falls: 33 miles (50 minutes)
Trail length: 1-mile round trip

Waterfalls near Boone

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains (Milepost on the Blue Ridge Parkway 272), the Cascades is a 35-footer and one of the coolest waterfalls near Banner Elk. When you see it, you’ll agree that this one is definitely worth the short 1-mile loop you’ll follow to reach it!

The moderate Cascades Nature Trail starts at EB Jeffress Park, which has picnic tables and overlooks the mountains and valleys. And unlike most waterfall trailheads that we’ll mention in this guide, you’ll find plenty of parking, picnic tables, and restrooms.

Read More: The Best NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes

Tom’s Creek Falls

Banner Elk to Tom’s Creek Falls: 36 miles (50 minutes)
Trail Length: 1 mile round trip

Things to do in Marion NC Toms Creek Falls

A very kid-friendly waterfall near Banner Elk is Tom’s Creek Falls. The 80-foot waterfall consists of two tiers that flow into the rocky riverbed below. This waterfall is also one of the few with an accessible trail and observation deck!

The trail is naturally surfaced, but it is wide and only has one uphill section that can be easily navigated by a wheelchair or jogging stroller.

There is an accessible viewing platform on the left side of the base. A short rocky climb to the right will allow you can dip your toes in the water!

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do In North Carolina (Your NC Bucket List)

Crabtree Falls

Banner Elk to Crabtree Falls: 38 miles (1 hour)
Trail length: 2.6 miles roundtrip

Crabtree Falls NC

Crabtree Falls is an incredibly popular and photogenic waterfall, and the first of a few Black Mountains hikes we’ll mention in this guide. The falls stand at 65 feet and rushes over mossy rocks and fallen logs.

Located at milepost 339.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the 2.6-mile loop is considered difficult, mostly because of the rocky end to the trail. Regardless of the tricky spots near the end, we think the view from the bridge is worth as many photos as you can take!

Read More: Great Hikes near Asheville

Stone Mountain State Park (2)

Banner Elk to Stone Mountain State Park: 73 miles (1 hr 40 min)

Waterfalls near Boone Widows Creek Falls Stone Mountain State Park
Widow’s Creek Falls.

There are two named waterfalls near Banner Elk inside Stone Mountain State Park. The tallest is Stone Mountain Falls located along the Stone Mountain Loop hike. The quickest way to reach it is from the Upper Trailhead Parking Area (0.2 miles away), but the entire loop itself (4.5 miles) is worth the trip.

Our favorite of the two is Widow’s Creek Falls. It doubles as a swimming hole and is just a short walk away from the parking lot. Crowds come early to enjoy this waterfall, especially on hotter days. That’s why we recommend you please plan an early visit.

Read More: 25 of the Most Amazing Winter Hikes in North Carolina

Catawba Falls

NOTE: Catawba Falls will be closed from May 2, 2022, until Spring 2023 for trail improvements

Banner Elk to Catawba Falls: 55 miles (1 hour 14 minutes)
Trail length: 3 miles round trip

Catawba Falls North Carolina Waterfalls

Catawba Falls in Old Fort made the cut here, even if you don’t consider it among waterfalls near Banner Elk. It sits off I-40 inside Pisgah National Forest. It’s a 100-foot-tall mossy waterfall that is worth the three miles round trip hike.

While the change in elevation is rather large (465 feet), the steady uphill makes this one manageable for most active people.

Read More: 10+ Great Things to Do at Grandfather Mountain (and Nearby!)

Roaring Fork Falls

Banner Elk to Roaring Fork Falls: 49 miles (1 hour 15 minutes)
Trail Length: 1 mile round trip

Roaring Fork Falls near Boone Blowing Rock Banner Elk NC

Roaring Fork Falls is a wonderful waterfall near Burnsville in Yancey County. This waterfall is only seven miles away from Crabtree Falls, making it easy to complete those two Black Mountains hikes (and Setrock Creek Falls nearby) on the same day.

To reach Roaring Fork Falls, the hike is a half-mile stroll. The path remains mostly flat and paved, as it was once a fairly active forest service road.

The walk’s highlight is a 100-foot-long cascade that weaves along the rocks, framed by rhododendrons and greenery.

Read More: Hiking Roan Mountain via Carvers Gap (near Bakersville)

Setrock Creek Falls

Banner Elk to Setrock Creek Falls: 52 miles (1 hour 23 minutes)
Trail Length: 1 mile round trip

Setrock Creek Falls High Country Waterfalls NC

Setrock Creek Falls is just down South Toe River Road from Roaring Fork Falls. This 75-foot waterfall is accessible via an easy hike.

To and from the waterfall is a mostly flat 1-mile path, which originates at the Black Mountain Campground.

While the parking lot may be close to full when you arrive, the hike and falls are not as crowded. This could be for multiple reasons. One is that the campground serves as the trailhead for the 12-mile round trip Old Mitchell Hike that’ll take you to the summit of Mount Mitchell.

Read More: 41 North Carolina State Parks Sites and How to Enjoy them All!

South Mountains State Park (2)

Banner Elk to South Mountains State Park: 58 miles (1 hour 30 minutes)
Trail Length: 2.7-mile loop

High Shoals Falls waterfall
High Shoals Falls.

Two of our favorite waterfalls near Banner Elk are inside South Mountains State Park near Morganton.

  • The High Shoals Falls Loop Trail is one of the most popular things to do in South Mountains State Park and is usually what many people do first. They start here primarily because of the 80-foot waterfall reward, and also because this is one of the shortest trails in the entire park.

Read More: 25+ Amazing Restaurants in Morganton and Nearby! (Map Included!)

Big Bear Falls South Mountains State Park
Big Bear Falls.
  • The even shorter 0.2-mile Big Bear Trail is an offshoot of the High Shoals Falls Trail. It leads to the appropriately named Big Bear Falls which is a nice diversion from the main event.

Read More: 50+ Beautiful Waterfalls Near Asheville (Within 2 Hours)

Carter Falls

Banner Elk to Carter Falls: 76 miles (1 hour 40 minutes)
Trail length: 1-mile roundtrip

Things to Do in Elkin NC Carter Falls

Thanks to the well-connected trail system in Elkin, there are a few ways you can reach Carter Falls. The shortest hike is from the Carter Falls Trailhead, a half-mile from the waterfall.

You can hop on the Powerhouse Trail and make it a mile-long loop back to the parking lot or backtrack via the Carter Falls Trail. However, the Powerhouse Trail will also take you by the also-beautiful Lower Falls section.

Carter Falls is beautiful throughout the year, but it’s easiest to view before and after the greens of spring and summer. That way, no tree cover will get in the way of your eyes.

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

Ready for these Waterfalls near Banner Elk?

I think that if you don’t answer that question with a resounding “yes!” we might begin questioning whether or not you love North Carolina as much as we do. And as always, we want to hear from you!

Which of these waterfalls near Banner Elk would you visit first, if you’ve never been before? And if you’ve been lucky enough, which ones are your favorite?

Let us know in the comments or feel free to send us an email.

Don’t forget to share your Banner Elk waterfall adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!

More Things to Do in Banner Elk and Nearby (Travel Guides)

Beyond these amazing waterfalls near Banner Elk, you’ll find a plethora of attractions. These NC travel guides have you covered for the High Country and beyond!

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