Road Trip – Waterfall Scenic Byway, North Carolina (May 2-3, 2020)

U. S. Route 64 is the longest numbered route in North Carolina, running 604 miles from the Tennessee state line to the Outerbanks. It dates back to a time of the Modet T and snakes through the North Carolina mountains, by waterfalls, through gorges and some really neat and awesome small towns.

A 150 mile section of Highway 64 near Asheville runs from Morgantown to Franklin. Most of this route is a winding 2-lane road. The last 40 miles before getting to Franklin is part of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, with many waterfalls. This is part of the route I took…….I would have loved to have stopped and hiked to many of the waterfalls on the list for this route, but with the time I had and mostly due to bad knees I just can’t do the hiking. So come along with me and join me along the beautiful country side and water falls of North Carolina that I was able to experience.

BREVARD

Brevard is located along scenic Highway 64 and is the crossroad between the Pisgah National Forest, Dupont State Forest, Gorges State Park and, Bracken Mountain Nature Reserve. Brevard is also known as the “Home of the White Squirrel” and Land of Waterfalls. Much of the area is a temperate rain forest with 90+ inches of rain a year, therefore giving you about 250 waterfalls.

As part of the Appalachian Mountain chain, Transylvania County’s high peaks and rolling ridges were first created by a shift of geological plates about 450 million years ago. These early mountains eroded down into almost a flat plain over subsequent geological eras only to be uplifted into its current topography during the Cenozoic era.

As soon as Transylvania County was established in 1861, a courthouse was needed, but was delayed until 1866 at the end of the Civil War, when a two-story frame courthouse was finished. Soon after, in 1874, the Board of County Commissioners approved $12,000 to construct a stately and impressive brick courthouse for the county seat, which still stands and operates today. It was the first brick building in Brevard. The Transylvania County Courthouse continues its operation today as a courthouse and the Clerk of Court. In 1979, it was recognized for its local historical significance and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On U.S 276 North, six miles from Brevard is Looking Glass Falls. From my research of the waterfalls in this area Looking Glass Falls is one of the most popular and beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina and its also one of the easist to view as it is accessbile from the roadside, which was perfect for me. U.S 276 is just a two lane country road, but there is plenty of room to pull over and park near the falls. There is a overlook from the parking area along the road that you can easily view the falls from, or you can take the steps which lead down to the falls for a closer view. You can even wade into the creek and swim underneath the falls when water flow is low.

Looking Glass Falls is 60 feet tall, there is no admission fee and it is always open.

Toxoway Falls

Toxoway falls is half way between Brevard and Cashiers North Carolina. Most travelers drive across the top of the 150 foot falls and don’t even know it. I know I would have if I had not done my research and internet googling before I headed out on this trip. The falls are located on Highway 64, 16 miles west of Brevard. At Lake Toxoway, you will cross a bridge below the dam for the lake. There are spots to park on the westbound side of the road. Cross the road to a walkway along the bridge for a view from the top of the cascading water. Its very beautiful and awesome! Continue to travel another 13 miles to reach Cashiers.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls is a 45-ft waterfall located in Nantahala National Forest just 2.5 miles west of Highlands, North Carolina. These falls have been famous for generations as the only waterfall in North Carolina that you could drive behind. When the highway was originally built, all traffic went behind the falls, but in the winter there were problems with the ice and falling rock year round! So now that section of the road is blocked off from automobiles for safety and visitors are able to walk behind the falls and enjoy it more. Bridal Veil Falls does not have a large volume of water so it makes it safe and fun to stand behind. The falls are located right along highway 64, there is roadside parking and is accessible to everyone…..wheeel chairs, strollers, etc.

As I have mentioned in other posts I made this trip during COVID so there were not a ton of people out and about and not a lot of traffic so access and driving was pretty easy and nice. I really enjoyed these falls and thought they were so unique with traffic at one time being able to drive right behind it. It was definetly a different view and perspective to be behind it looking out.

Dry Falls

Dry Falls is another popular waterfall that is only a mile from Bridal Veil Falls. Dry Falls is a 75-ft tall waterfall that falls over a cliff which allows you to walk safely behind the falls and stay “dry.” At the top next to the parking lot is an observation area where everyone can view the falls. There is a short trail that leads down to the falls, which I did not take as its all down hill and I knew it was going to be to much with my knees. It was a beautiful view and a lot of water flowing.

Cullasaja Falls

One more water fall I was able to see along this route was the Cullasaja Falls along the Cullasaja River Gorge……a beautiful drive with narrow roads, curves that are frequent and shop. Cullasaja Falls is 8 miles west of Highlands and there is no sign for this 250-ft waterfall. The best way to see it is if you are driving from Franklin….due to the location, there is only a small pull of for 2-3 cars along the road, so drive slow and look for the pull off.

Something of interest…..the word “Cullasaja” comes from the Cherokee word meaning “honey locust place”

Other scenic pictures along the drive through Cullasaja Gorge