Last Updated on July 14, 2021
Last Updated on July 14, 2021
North Carolina’s High Country hosts 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.
We’ll also include info, including trail distances, tips about roadside falls, and more. Here’s how we’ve organized this guide to High Country waterfalls, in case you’re searching for something specific:
- Organization Note
- Leave No Trace Reminder
- Roadside Waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk
- Waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk (Hikes)
And when you’re ready to see them all and want to plan your trip, our Map of Waterfalls in Western NC will help you with that, too.
This post is part of our series on awesome places to visit in Western North Carolina, especially places within a day trip from Boone. Still looking for a place to stay in the area? Check out these cool Airbnbs in Boone and in nearby towns!
For the purposes of this article, these waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk have been grouped by distance from Boone from shortest to longest in minutes. We grouped those together 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 Reminder
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.
Roadside Waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk
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 of the roadside waterfalls near Boone (closest to 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.
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 great 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.
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.
Waterfalls Near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk (Hikes)
These waterfalls near Boone are accessible after hikes that range from fairly short to pretty lengthy!
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)
The Glen Burney Trail just off Main St in downtown Blowing Rock will take you to three waterfalls. 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!
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 one of the most popular swimming hole waterfalls 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.
We included these falls in our guide covering the best things to do in Boone!
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)
Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 272), the Cascades is a 35-footer and one of the coolest waterfalls 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.
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)
We’d be letting you down if we didn’t include Otter Falls, one of our favorite waterfalls near Banner Elk, still within a short drive from Boone and Blowing Rock. 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.
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.
We also included Crab Orchard Falls in our guide that covers things to do in Banner Elk!
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.
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.
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)
Probably one of the most photogenic waterfalls near Boone (closest to 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!
Trail length: 1 mile roundtrip
58 miles (1 hour 10 minutes)
Thanks to the well-connected trail system in Elkin, there are actually a few ways you can reach Carter Falls. However, 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.
Stone Mountain State Park (2)
55 miles (1 hr 12 min)
There are two named waterfalls near Boone inside Stone Mountain State Park. The tallest is Stone Mountain Falls, which you can access while hiking the Stone Mountain Loop. 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.
We personally consider Widow’s Creek Falls to be the park’s most beautiful waterfall. It’s also a swimming hole and 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.
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)
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!
The path that leads to and from Crabtree Falls is also one of our favorite hikes near Asheville!
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, even if you don’t consider it among waterfalls near Boone. It sits off I-40 and is 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.
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 near Burnsville in Yancey County. It’s only seven miles away from Crabtree Falls, making it easy for those two (and Setrock Creek Falls nearby) on 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.
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 near Boone would you visit first, if you’ve never been before? And if you’ve been lucky enough, which ones are you favorite?