Hiking to a waterfall is always fun for me. If it’s hot outside, a waterfall provides an escape from the heat and maybe even a light shower. Waterfalls also give me something to look forward to if it’s a long hike–they’re like nature’s own reward.

These are a few of the most memorable and fun waterfall hikes I’ve encountered through my travels thus far.

1. Abrams Falls Trail/ Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Cades Cove, TN) 

I decided to hike this trail to get out and stretch my legs after driving the 11-mile Cades Cove loop. This is a 2.5 mile hike to the falls on a dirt trail through the forest. There’s quite a bit of rocky terrain and some climbing involved so I would rate this hike as moderately difficult. There are lots of flowering trees all along the way and several bridges that cross over Abrams Creek. For me, getting to the waterfall felt like quite an accomplishment. Even though the hike was only 2.5 miles it felt like farther due to the climb in elevation. Abrams Falls is actually only 20 feet tall but it has a lot of water coming down. There’s a large pool at the base that’s perfect for cooling off and taking some pictures. Although not recommended, it’s pretty fun to climb around on the rocks, too.

2. Raven Cliff Falls Trail (Chattahoochee National Forest, GA)

 Almost to the top

Raven Cliff Falls trail is a very popular trail in north Georgia. The hike is 2.5 miles and moderately difficult with some rock climbing at the end. You’ll walk through a dense forest of hardwoods with lots of little spots along the creek to stop, rest, and take pictures. Once you get up to the falls you’ll see an 80 ft. giant rock formation. The waterfall is actually a double cascade that flows down through the middle of the cliff. There’s a lot of climbing you can do on these big rocks as long as you’re careful. Then you can climb up even higher on a short path to the top of the waterfall.

3. Hickory Nut Falls Trail (Chimney Rock State Park, NC)

Standing on the observation platform next to the falls

The Hickory Nut Falls trail is one of several trails available in Chimney Rock State Park and is 0.75  miles to the base of 404 ft Hickory Nut Falls. It’s an easy to moderate hike through a forest of oak, poplar, hickory, locust, maple, basswood harbor, and beech trees. There are also plenty of wildflowers, birds, and squirrels along the way. You’ll then come to a bridge which leads you to an observation platform at the bottom of the falls. There’s plenty of water falling and you’ll probably feel some mist. You can also climb down and explore the waterfall’s big pool area.

4. Angel Falls Trail (Chattahoochee National Forest, GA)

Sign at the trailhead explaining the history of the trail

This trailhead is at the Lake Rabun Beach Campground. It’s a pretty easy 2-mile round trip trail through a dense forest. In the beginning there’s an old “Spring In A Box” which was once used by the locals as a refrigerator. Other remaining structures and items can be found along the trail. You’ll then walk next to a creek for about a half mile to meet up with Panther Falls. After a short, steep climb you’ll soon make it to Angel Falls. You can hang out on the bridge over Joe Creek and relax under this picturesque waterfall.

What’s left of the old Spring In A Box


 Angel Falls

5. Dry Falls Trail (Nantahala National Forest, NC) 

This trail is accessed right off of Highway 64, just 3 miles north of the city of Highlands. Keep a lookout for the forest sign. There’s parking along the side of the road and steps that take you down to the trail. Dry Falls doesn’t seem like a very appropriate name for this waterfall. It’s 65 ft tall and with so much water flowing, it’s one of the prettiest I’ve seen in the area. The coolest part about this waterfall is that the trail takes you directly behind the falls.  Once you get close you’ll be able to feel the water spraying off of it. It’s the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day. If you’re not interested in getting wet there’s a little alcove you can duck into to keep dry and take pictures.

Those are my favorite waterfall hikes in the southeast. Now it’s your turn to get out and explore! Let us know which waterfalls are your favorites.

# Comments

  • Jeff Barber

    So many great waterfalls in the southeast and this is a great list! Raven Cliff Falls has been on my list for a while but I assumed there would be more water flowing?

    There are several great waterfalls on the NC side of Smoky Mountains National Park in the Deep Creek area (Indian Creek Falls, Juney Whank Falls, and Little Creek Falls). I remember seeing a few more waterfalls along Hwy 64 near Highlands but Dry Creek Falls is easily the most spectacular.

    In North Georgia of course there’s Amicalola Falls in the state park and a small swimming hole/cascade along Waters Creek just north of Dahlonega (the locals call it Dicks Creek Falls).

  • Sarah Hikes

    Yeah, Raven Cliff Falls is mostly giant rocks with some water flowing in between. I think it’s pretty cool, though.

    I haven’t been to Amicalola yet. We didn’t make it there on the last trip. It’s one for next time.

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