The Nantahala National Forest is a vast, dense outdoor playground for zealous adventurers and casual travelers alike. Hidden amongst the vibrant, emerald green forestry are jaw-dropping lakes, untouched creeks, and curious wildlife. Lake Nantahala remains the forest’s most beautiful landmark, with its jagged mountains, mirror-like water, and luxuriant lake homes. In fact, Forge Lake Lodge, one of the most desirable Western North Carolina vacation rentals, has become a massive draw for large families and groups searching for an idyllic combination of sophistication and adventure. The lodge itself has canoes, on-site hiking trails, and exquisite patios. However, a trip to Western North Carolina is incomplete without visiting a handful of the prettiest Nantahala waterfalls.
The 5 Best Nantahala Waterfalls
It’s nearly impossible to be objective when listing the best Nantahala waterfalls as everyone’s eye is different. That being said, we think that this comprehensive list provides a unique mixture of visual treats, backcountry adventures, and brief overlooks.
Short and Sweet: Rufus Morgan Falls
Rufus Morgan Falls’ trailhead is approximately 10 miles from Forge Lake Lodge, making it one of the most-frequent Nantahala waterfalls. The trail itself is just one mile long with less than 300 feet of elevation gain, so it’s perfect for hikers of all ages. This peaceful trail carves through dense forestry along the foothills of the Nantahala Mountains. Rufus Morgan Falls is rarely gushing, even after heavy rainfall. Instead, you’ll discover a peaceful chain of cascades that lead to a dramatic flat-rock drop.
Hidden Gem: Cullasaja Falls
To this day, Cullasaja Falls still doesn’t earn enough love from travel guides. These multi-layered falls gradually slip down the Cullasaja River, just 200 feet from U.S. 64. Most visitors snap a few photos and move on. However, we highly recommend climbing down into the shallow riverbank to get a better vantage point of the falls. Be advised that this brief but steep descent (and ascent) is for semi-experienced hikers only.
Kid-Friendly: Dry Falls
Dry Falls, unlike most secluded Nantahala waterfalls, has a well-marked rocky trail with wood fencing (as seen above). Therefore, feel free to bring along the kiddos for this brief stroll. The short, 0.3-mile trail meanders underneath the flow, making it one of the most-photographed waterfalls in North Carolina. As you might expect, this site becomes quite busy during peak summer and fall seasons.
Most Beautiful: Glen Falls
Typically, when vacationers ask our concierge team about the finest Western North Carolina waterfalls within driving distance of Forge Lake Lodge, they point to Glen Falls. Glen Falls has everything you’re looking for in a midday escape: a moderately-challenging, 2.4-mile hike, a 70-foot drop, and breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains.
Backpacking: Snowbird Creek Falls
Snowbird Creek Falls is a challenge, to say the least. But, this rarely-traveled, 13.9-mile backpack trek is a challenge worth accepting for those with a full day to spare. Birdwatchers frequent this trail as a wide variety of native species reside in these quiet woods, as the creek’s name suggests. The picturesque falls feature a natural swimming hole, which is ideal on a hot summer afternoon. Please research the trail beforehand and bring a map as it’s not marked to perfection.
Forge Lake Lodge
After visiting one or two of the most beautiful Nantahala waterfalls, retreat to Forge Lake Lodge for a brief canoe trip on the lake, a home-cooked meal, and drinks at dusk. The lodge itself is an architectural marvel with a wine cellar, multiple stone fireplaces, and stunning bathrooms. This 10,000-square-foot palace sleeps 16, which is perfect for a family gathering or corporate retreat. Give us a call today at 1-651-389-3843 to learn more about Forge Lake Lodge, one of the most desirable luxury homes in North Carolina.