There are seven easy waterfalls near Franklin, NC, that almost anyone can visit. All of them are a short walk from the parking area, and are easy, or fairly easy, to see. Exploring all of them, taking pictures, and even sliding down the rocks at Cashier’s Sliding Rock, only took us a few hours, so this route (or one similar) would be a good day trip if you’re close by, or a good addition to your trip if you’re visiting.

Tip: I highly recommend using a GPS to find all of these waterfalls. Some of them don’t have signs or large parking areas and they are easy to miss. Also, we lost signal a few times, so be sure to download the map just in case.

Keep in mind too that it was very dry when we visited, so if go earlier in the spring or after a good rain, the waterfalls will be running much more full and fast.

Cullasaja Falls (Off of Highway 64)

Cullasaja Falls in NC, surrounded by trees.

This waterfall is almost right in between Franklin and Highlands, NC. There’s no sign for this one, so when the GPS says you’re close, start looking for a small pull off on the side of the road. It’s dirt and only big enough for 2 or 3 cars. 

To see the waterfall, follow the few dirt steps up the hill beside the parking area, and walk the short trail to the top of a steep slope. (That’s where this picture is taken from.)

If you are a more experienced hiker, you can shimmy and slide your way down the hill and around the rocks to get to the bottom of the falls. This is where a lot of the other pictures that you’ll see are taken from. We went down a little further, but chose not to go too far because, 1) we couldn’t see much of what was beyond that first descent and we didn’t want to risk it, and 2) we wanted to save our energy and time to see the other waterfalls in the area.

Quarry Falls – a.k.a. Bust Your Butt Falls (Off of Highway 64 near Highlands, NC)

Quarry Falls, a.k.a. Bust Your Butt Falls, surrounded by large boulders and trees. One of the easy waterfalls near Franklin, NC.

We thought these were two different waterfalls, with “Bust Your Butt Falls” being at the end of our list because you can swim there. But when we started searching for it, and asked around, we found out that they were the same. 

To swim there, you have to (again) scramble down the hill quite a ways. After seeing it, I’m not sure why anyone would want to slide down it, but I can also very much see why (if you do) it’s known as Bust Your Butt Falls. We asked a local there if people slide down it and he laughed and said, “You can if you want to, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.”

The area surrounding Quarry Falls is filled with big beautiful boulders. Plenty of places to sit and enjoy nature. And to watch people bust their butts. Haha!

Dry Falls (Off of Highway 64 near Highlands, NC)

Dry Falls in NC. One of the easy waterfalls near Franklin, NC that you can actually walk behind.

Even though the weather had been a little dry, Dry Falls was anything but. It was flowing really beautifully. The name sounds ironic, but it was named Dry Falls because on an average day of water flow, people can walk behind this waterfall and stay relatively dry.

It’s the only one of the seven waterfalls on the list that has an actual parking lot and a well-maintained walkway leading to it. There are even restrooms there if you need them. (Always good to know where they are just in case. =)) Which all makes the $3 fee very well worth it.

From the parking lot you’ll walk about .2 miles down along a wide path with some stairs. Once you’re at the bottom, you can keep walking and go right behind this 75-foot waterfall to the other side.

It’s such a unique experience, being behind the waterfall, and looking out through the flowing water.

Bridal Veil Falls (Off of Highway 64, less than a mile from Dry Falls)

Bridal Veil Falls should have been called dry falls the day we were there. It was barely flowing at all. I could see how it could be really pretty though, the way it flowed over the side of the rocks. The coloring on the rocks reminded me of what happens at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan.

Sequoyah Falls (1896 Franklin Rd., Highlands, NC)

Sequoyah Falls in NC. Technically water spilling over a manmade rock wall, coming from the dam above.

Sequoyah Falls brings up a question that I ask a lot…what constitutes a waterfall? (Link to Blue Hole Falls) Is it simply water falling over? Are there specific parameters? Does it still count if it’s manmade?

For me, it’s more the first definition. Also though, if it looks pretty or interesting, then I’m going to want to see it either way. So whether you consider this one a waterfall or not, it’s still worth a short stop.

The waterfall is technically spill over from the Lake Sequoyah Dam above, but when the water is running hard and fast (which again, it wasn’t that day), it’s as pretty as any other waterfall we’ve seen.

Look for the “Highlands Elev. 4118” sign and the parking area is either just before or just after it (depending on which way you’re coming from).

A sign that reads "Highlands Elevation 4118".

From the parking area, go to the left down a small hill and you can get a little closer to the waterfall. Be careful getting too close because the rocks can be very slippery, even when there isn’t much water flowing.

Sequoyah Falls near Highlands, NC, surrounded by bushes and trees.

Silver Run Falls (Cashiers, NC)

Silver Run Falls in NC, surrounded by trees all around.

Look for the National Forest sign and a gravel parking area that is big enough for seven or eight cars. Just past the sign, to the left, there is a pathway that takes you to this waterfall and swimming area.

It’s roughly a 1/4 of a mile walk along a gravel pathway, and over a small wooden bridge with a few steps, to get to the waterfall. Which I imagine is busy, busy in the summer.

Cashiers Sliding Rock (Off of White Cove Rd., Highlands, NC)

Cashier's Sliding Rock in NC, surrounded by trees.

There are only two small pull offs on the side of the road for this swimming area/waterfall. They are close to the bridge that goes over the Chattanooga River. Once there, you’ll see the path that leads to the waterfall. It’s only about .1 miles and is fairly easy.

It’s a small area, (that, again, I imagine is filled with people on warm days) but it was a really fun, beautiful stop. If you want to slide down the rock, you’ll need to walk up the left side to get to the top. Be EXTREMELY careful because the rock is super slippery. Once at the top, pick your route down and go for it. I highly recommend watching others slide down before trying it yourself (if there are others there). Simply because there are easier, smoother routes and rougher ones.

Cashier's Sliding Rock in NC, with two people walking along the top trying to decide which way to slide down. There are large trees all around the rocks.

The large hole on the left is actually pretty deep. I watched people who were around 6 feet tall sink into it over their heads.

Cashier's Sliding Rock in NC. A man slid down into one of the large, deep holes that the water created. Just his head is sticking out above the water and rocks.

I didn’t slide down the rock, for various reasons, but I had an absolute blast sitting on a rock in the middle of the river watching everyone else slide down. Seeing their faces when they hit various points on the rocks and shifted this way and that way was great! =) 

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a water bug, or you like to ride in the car, get out, snap a few pics and move on, you can see a lot of beautiful things in this area.

These seven waterfalls are part of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway in NC, which is a 61.3-mile drive. So even though the waterfalls weren’t flowing at their strongest, it was still very much worth exploring the area.

There are also a lot of other things to see and do within an hour or so of here.

Depending on how you’re coming and going, you could take a trip through Cherokee, home of the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and drive over the mountain through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are several beautiful pull offs along that route.

On our way over, we stopped at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center (1194 Newfound Gap Rd., NC) and saw a couple of the elk herds that occasionally hang out there.

An elk buck with large antlers sitting in a grassy area.

The day after we saw the waterfalls, we went to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (13077 U.S. Hwy 19, Bryson City, NC) and went white water rafting for the first time. Which is a whole other story in and of itself. =)

Have you been to this area? What was your favorite thing you saw? Are there any waterfalls in NC that aren’t on this list, or other places that you’ve visited, that you would recommend? I’m always looking for new adventures. Find me on Instagram – @thenovelturtle – and let me know.