A Guide to Seeing Waterfalls Along Highway 64 in North Carolina
When you plan a trip to the quiet side of the Smoky Mountains, you probably want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. There’s no better place to be than in the beauty of this mountainous region, and one of the most incredible things to see is waterfalls. If you want to combine a gorgeous scenic drive with hiking to beautiful waterfalls, then you need to travel on the North Carolina Waterfall Byway. Keep reading to learn more about the scenic road and how to find these amazing waterfalls near Murphy NC.
All About the North Carolina Waterfall Byway
The Waterfall Byway scenic drive takes travelers along the winding Highway 64 from Murphy to Rosman, North Carolina. This road stretches 98 miles across the western portion of the state, and it takes about 3.5 hours to complete. You’ll pass through quaint little towns and unincorporated communities, and there are plenty of spots to stop and enjoy nature along the way. So if you love to just hop in the car and enjoy the scenery, this is a great way to spend a day of your Murphy, North Carolina vacation!
Traveling Along Highway 64 in North Carolina
If you’re starting in Murphy, you’ll follow Unicoi Turnpike to US-64 East. Before long, you’ll be able to take in the countryside of North Carolina. You’ll pass through an unincorporated community of Shooting Creek, then make your way up the curvy mountains until you come up on Shooting Creek Scenic Overlook, which has some incredible views.
After driving on Highway 64 in North Carolina, you’ll go through the little town of Franklin. As you pass through here, you’ll continue into the mountains again. After you pass Walnut Creek Road, you’ll enter into the Cullasaja Gorge, where there are 5 waterfalls near Murphy NC.
Cullasaja Gorge Waterfalls
The first one is Cullasaja Falls, which is easy to miss. There’s only one place to see it, and it’s on a pull off heading towards Highlands. This waterfall is 250 feet tall, with several cascades leading to a pool below.
The second waterfall is Bust Your Butt Falls; there is no signage to show where to find it, but you’ll probably see several other vehicles parked on the sides of the road. This waterfall boasts beautiful cascades with a popular swimming hole at the bottom.
The third waterfall is Ranger Falls, and this is a great opportunity to truly stretch your legs. To get to the waterfall, you’ll travel along the 2.4-mile moderate to difficult hiking trail that will take you to the 35-foot waterfall on Skitty Creek.
The fourth waterfall is Dry Falls, and it has gotten its name from the theory that if you walk behind the falls, you’ll stay dry. You’ll also have to hike to see Dry Falls, but the trek is considered easy.
Bridal Veil Falls is the 5th waterfall in the Cullasaja Gorge area. It is one of the easiest to see, because it’s visible from Highway 64 in North Carolina. Vehicles used to be able to drive behind the waterfall on the paved road, but this area has been blocked off for years. But the view is still incredible!
Not long after you pass Bridal Veil Falls, you’ll find yourself at Sequoyah Falls. This isn’t a natural waterfall but a man made one. That doesn’t make it any less impressive! Water pours over the concrete dam that was built for Lake Sequoyah. You can pull off into a gravel parking lot to get views of this waterfall
Gorges State Park in Sapphire, North Carolina
After you drive through Highlands, North Carolina, you’ll continue along Highway 64 to Sapphire, North Carolina. If you want to enjoy the waterfalls in this area, you’ll get off the highway and turn onto Highway 281 to get to the entrance of Gorges State Park. There are several scenic spots in this area, and you might want to explore all of them!
The first and easiest of the waterfalls to see in Gorges State Park is Bearwallow Falls. The hike is only 0.5 mile, and it starts at a signed trailhead near a picnic pavilion. You’ll know you’re on the right trail if you’re following blue diamond blazes that are marked along the trail.
Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls are the more popular waterfalls in Gorges State Park. The hike to get to them is 3 miles out and back. You’ll pass through wildflower meadows and lush forest until you come up on the 150-foot Rainbow Falls. You can continue upriver on the trail to see Turtleback Falls.
The Final Falls on the North Carolina Waterfall Byway
The last waterfall on this road trip is Toxaway Falls. You’ll actually drive over it on Highway 64 in North Carolina. There is no pedestrian path to see the waterfall, so you would have to walk on the bridge where cars pass by to get a better look at the falls.
If you love road trips and incredible wonders of nature, then you’ll love driving along Highway 64 in North Carolina. This is a fun day trip to make while you’re in Murphy for your quiet mountain getaway. Want to enjoy waterfalls without a scenic drive? Check out these waterfalls near Murphy NC!