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Waterfalls near Boone Blowing Rock and Banner Elk

17 Beautiful Waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk

Last Updated on September 9, 2020

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With the highest mountains in the East, North Carolina’s High Country hosts so much natural beauty. The area is home to many incredible hiking trails, but you’ll also find some of North Carolina’s most gorgeous waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk—three towns that dominate much attention in this region.

Also, while we may have uncovered more waterfalls further west, we think these 17 pristine waterfalls within a 90-minute drive of those fun High Country towns will equally amaze you.

We’ll also include info including trail distances, tips about the roadside falls, and more. And when you’re ready to see them all and want to plan your trip, our High Country Waterfalls map will help you with that, too.

This post is part of our series on awesome places to visit in Western North Carolina, especially its hikes and waterfalls in places like the High Country, as well as near Asheville, Brevard, and Cherokee.

Waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk

For the purposes of this article, these waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk have been grouped alphabetically and on their own. However, we grouped together those that can be found on the same hike or protected area.

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

Leave NO Trace

Leave no trace from these waterfalls so we can all enjoy them like you did. And if any of their parking lots are full (or approaching full), plan to visit another day.

The Cascades

Trail length: 1 mile round trip

  • Boone to Cascade Falls: 16 miles (21 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Cascade Falls: 21 miles (32 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Cascades Falls: 33 miles (45 minutes)
Cascades is definitely one of our favorite waterfalls near Boone.

Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 272), the Cascades is a 35-foot waterfall near Boone. And when you see it, you’ll agree that this one is absolutely 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 mountains and valleys below. And unlike most waterfall trailheads that we’ll mention in this guide, you’ll find plenty of parking, picnic tables, and restrooms.

EB Jeffress Park is the first of a few Blue Ridge Parkway stops that we mention in this guide.

Catawba Falls

Trail length: 3 miles round trip

  • Boone to Catawba Falls: 64 miles (1 hour 28 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Catawba Falls: 70 miles (1 hour 21 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Catawba Falls: 55 miles (1 hour 14 minutes)

Catawba Falls made the cut here, being under two hours away from Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk. It’s one of many waterfalls 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.

Crab Orchard Falls

Trail length: 1 mile round trip

  • Boone to Crab Orchard Falls: 13 miles (26 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Crab Orchard Falls: 13 miles (26 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Crab Orchard Falls: 6 miles (12 minutes)

A slow and gentle flow makes Crab Orchard Falls a serene waterfall to stare at. 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.

Crabtree Falls

Trail length: 2.6 miles round trip

  • Boone to Crabtree Falls: 51 miles (1 hour 16 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Crabtree Falls: 48 miles (1 hour 12 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Crabtree Falls: 41 miles (1 hour)

An incredibly popular and photogenic waterfall, Crabtree Falls stands at 65 feet and rushes over mossy rocks and fallen logs. Located at milepost 340 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!

The path that leads to and from Crabtree Falls is also one of our favorite hikes near Asheville!

Elk River Falls

Trail length: 0.5 miles round trip

  • Boone to Elk River Falls: 30 miles (52 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Elk River Falls: 32 miles (52 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Elk River Falls: 12 miles (23 minutes)
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, Elk River Falls is an 85 foot plunging waterfall that we highly recommend! It is a short quarter of a mile trail to the falls with some steep steps.

However, the views are absolutely worth any trouble along the way. Bring your swimsuit, too, as this is a popular place to hop in the cool mountain water!

Glen Burney Trail (3)

Trail length: 3 miles round trip for all three waterfalls

  • Boone to Glen Burney Falls: 8 miles (16 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Glen Burney Falls: 0.3 miles (2 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Glen Burney Falls: 18 miles (33 minutes)
Glen Burney Falls is our favorite of all the waterfalls near Blowing Rock.

The Glen Burney Trail just off Main St in downtown Blowing Rock will take you to three waterfalls, which helps bump up our number to 15 total. Its trailhead sits across from Annie Cannon Gardens, you’ll descend for nearly 2 miles on an ancient Native American path.

The three waterfalls on this trail are 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!

And after your hike, you’ll want to fill up on food. Check out some of these incredible restaurants in Blowing Rock to help you do just that!

Green Mountain Creek Falls

Trail length: Roadside

  • Boone to Green Mountain Creek Falls: 16 miles (27 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Green Mountain Creek Falls: 8 miles (14 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Green Mountain Creek Falls: 15 miles (28 minutes)

Green Mountain Creek Falls is the first roadside waterfall near Blowing Rock that we’ll mention. The 20-foot waterfall sits just eight miles from Main Street on a section of Highway 221 known as the Little Parkway. We’ve mentioned it before when sharing our favorite North Carolina road trips.

You’ll park your car across the winding road from the waterfall. Green Mountain Creek Falls sits in a bend in the road and continues to flow under it. However, only this view is easy to reach and see.

Laurel Creek Falls

Trail length: 0.15 miles round trip

  • Boone to Laurel Creek Falls: 12 miles (19 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Laurel Creek Falls: 20 miles (30 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Laurel Creek Falls: 16 miles (27 minutes)

Known as Trash Can Falls by App State students because a dumpster used to mark the trailhead, Laurel Creek Falls is a popular swimming hole waterfall near Boone. The trail is short at 0.15 but is steep but the trail is well-maintained.

When you reach the parking lot, cross the street for the trail. Don’t worry if you’re confused like we were upon arrival. We didn’t have service when we arrive 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.

Linville Falls

Trail length: Various trails but the most popular is 1.6 miles round trip

  • Boone to Linville Falls: 29 miles (42 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Linville Falls: 26 miles (39 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Linville Falls: 19 miles (30 minutes)

The tallest waterfalls in the area can be found nearest to Banner Elk, but just around 40 minutes from Boone and Blowing Rock. We all know them as Linville Falls in Burke County, also part of the “Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians” known as Linville Gorge Wilderness.

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, great views can be had 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! We included both in our guide to a weekend in Morganton and Burke County.

Otter Falls

Trail length: 1.2 miles round trip

  • Boone to Otter Falls: 12 miles (22 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Otter Falls: 13 miles (27 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Otter Falls: 9 miles (17 minutes)
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 and nearest to Banner Elk and Boone. You’ll get to admire these falls in between a strenuous 1.2-mile round trip hike.

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 to 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 from.

Roaring Fork Falls

  • Boone to Roaring Fork Falls: 58 miles (1 hour 30 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Roaring Fork Falls: 55 miles (1 hour 25 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Roaring Fork Falls: 49 miles (1 hour 15 minutes)

Roaring Fork Falls is a wonderful waterfall located near Burnsville in Yancey County. It’s only seven miles away from Crabtree Falls, making it easy those two (and Setrock Creek Falls nearby) in the same day.

To reach Roaring Fork Falls, you’ll take more of a stroll than a hike. It’s really not too tough to reach, but you’ll still walk half a mile. The path remains mostly flat and paved, as it was once a fairly active forest service road.

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

Setrock Creek Falls

  • Boone to Setrock Creek Falls: 61 miles (1 hour 35 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Setrock Creek Falls: 58 miles (1 hour 33 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Setrock Creek Falls: 52 miles (1 hour 23 minutes)

Setrock Creek Falls is just down South Toe River Road from Roaring Fork Falls. This 75-foot waterfall is also reachable 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.

Silvervale Falls

Trail length: Roadside

  • Boone to Silvervale Falls: 17 miles (28 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Silvervale Falls: 10 miles (17 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Silvervale Falls: 28 miles (48 minutes)

Silvervale Falls is another roadside waterfall not far from Blowing Rock and Boone. It stands tall at 70 feet, and the falls flow slow and gentle.

If you’re in Blowing Rock, head 6 miles south from the Green Park Inn and turn right on the aptly named Waterfalls Road. Silvervale awaits less than 2 miles down the road on your left.

Upper Creek Falls

Trail length: 1 mile round trip

  • Boone to Upper Creek Falls: 29 miles (40 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Upper Creek Falls: 26 miles (39 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Upper Creek Falls: 19 miles (26 minutes)

And 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.

Waterfalls Park

Trail length: Roadside

  • Boone to Waterfalls Park: 23 miles (34 minutes)
  • Blowing Rock to Waterfalls Park: 22 miles (35 minutes)
  • Banner Elk to Waterfalls Park: 12 miles (18 minutes)

Located in Newland, Waterfalls Park is an awesome double cascade falls you can mostly see from the bridge that sits in front of it.

You can view the upper falls by hiking up and to the left for a closer look! There are several picnic tables and the area is maintained by the Newland volunteer fire department.

Ready for these Waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and 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 would you visit first, if you’ve never been before? And if you’ve been lucky enough, which ones are you favorite?

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