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11 Top Waterfalls to Visit for Fall Colors

Waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Mountains are magical, anytime of the year.  But certain waterfalls, when surrounded by the beautiful Fall Foliage and Colors, just become exquisite and even more magical.  We love visiting waterfalls, anytime of the year, but especially during the Fall color season.

We've visited more than 50 waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Mountains so far, and we constantly add to that list.  Picking "the best" or "top waterfalls" is always difficult, and always very subjective, as they are all beautiful in their own way.

For picking the top waterfalls for Fall Colors, we included a number of factors:

  • Those that best collected leaves - including pools at the base, and rocks around the base.
  • Have a good amount of surrounding foliage, so the waterfalls are framed with beautiful fall colors
  • Color Contrast - While green isn't your usual fall color, waterfalls with moss, or Rhododendron mixed into the foliage, offer good color contrasts and make for great color compositions for waterfall photos.

Without further delay, here are our top picks for Waterfalls to visit for Fall Colors!

1- Crabtree Falls

Our top favorite, and it shows up on many different waterfall "top" lists, is Crabtree Falls off the Blue Ridge Parkway, at MP339.5.  Crabtree Falls is a beautiful and dramatic 70 foot cascading waterfall,   Crabtree is well known for being one of the most photogenic waterfalls, due to to perfect lighting, heavy waterfall, and surrounding foliage.

The surrounding foliage, especially during the fall, coupled with the this beautiful waterfall, makes for a magical combination, and some amazing Fall photos.

Accessing the waterfall does require a hike, but a really nice one.

2 - Soco Falls

Fall Colors Soco Falls

Soco Falls is a duel waterfall, that cascades 120 feet into the rocky creek below.   Soco Falls is visible from a wood observation deck.  The trail to the deck is short, but moderate in difficulty.  A better view of the falls is from the base, but this is a strenuous decent down a steep bank, that requires the use of ropes.

Soco Falls is beautiful during any season, but due to the surrounding foliage, and numerous rhododendron, it is exceptionally beautiful in the Fall.  Soco Falls is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Maggie Valley NC and Cherokee.

3 - Second Falls at Graveyard Fields

Fall at Lower Falls, Graveyard Fields

A very popular and photogenic waterfall is Second Falls (also called Lower Falls), at Graveyard Fields (MP418.5) on the Blue Ridge Parkway.    Our favorite Fall shot of this waterfall is shown above, and can be taken roadside from the Blue Ridge Parkway, at around MP418.   

For closer shots, you can park at Graveyard Fields, and hike down to the base of the waterfall.  Graveyards Fields is an exceptionally beautiful area during the Fall, and one of the earliest places on the parkway, and in the Blue Ridge Mountains to change colors.

4 - Whitewater Falls

Being the the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies, Whitewater falls is a really a sight to see, especially when surrounded by beautiful and brilliant Fall colors.   Whitewater Falls is located near Sapphire NC, and is 411 feet in total length.   The waterfall has an easily accessible viewing platform, but for better views, you can walk further down the stairs and decking, and even hike to the base of the falls.

During the Fall, the surrounding foliage beautiful frames the waterfall, and provides for stunning photo opportunities.

5 - Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest 

Fall at Triple Falls, Dupont State Park

Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest, near Brevard NC is an exceptionally pretty waterfall, with 3 separate cascades.  Triple Falls is also featured in the blockbuster movie, The Hunger Games.  The falls are 120 foot tall, and easily accessible along the Dupont Waterfalls trail.

The dense foliage surround the falls, offers excellent framing, especially during the Fall season.  Dupont also features a number of other waterfalls and hiking trails, making it a wonderful Fall day trip location.

6 - Abrams's Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fall at Abrams Falls

One of the most popular waterfalls and hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Abrams Falls, located along the loop road through Cades Cove..

While not big, Abrams Falls makes up for its size in power, with heavy water flow.  The water flow causes a beautiful mist to spray off the falls.   The falls, mist, and Fall colors make for gorgeous photos compositions.

The hike out is 5 miles roundtrip and moderate to strenuous.   The hike is really nice, offering a mixture of creek side hiking, scenic views, and scenic points of interest.

7 - Dry Falls

Fall at Dry Falls NC

Photo by: Jim Dollar

Dry Falls, located near Sapphire NC and roadside off Highway 64, is a beautiful and heavy flowing waterfall.   Dry Falls is one of the very few Blue Ridge Mountain waterfalls that you can walk behind.

Dry Falls is viewable from the parking area, using an accessible viewing platform.   You can also walk down to the Falls, behind it, and past it, to the other side as well.

Dry Falls or beautiful during the Fall due to the surrounding foliage, and heavy and majestic water flows.

8 - Lower Sam Branch Falls

Fall at Lower Sam Branch Falls

Photo by Rich Stevenson

Lower Sam Branch Falls is one of three waterfalls located just off Highway 215 in North Carolina.  Lower Sam Branch Falls is exceptionally pretty during the Fall season, due to the way it "catches" the leaves, and surrounds itself in Fall colors.

Reaching the Falls does require climbing up a steep, but fairly short ridge, but the walk to the waterfall after this is easy.

9 - Mouse Creek Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fall at Mouse Creek Falls by Jim Dollar

Photo by Jim Dollar

Mouse Creek Falls is located in the Big Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The waterfall is on Big Creek Trail, about 1/4 of a mile past very popular Midnight Hole.  

Mouse Creek Falls is exceptionally pretty and photogenic, especially when surrounded by Fall colors, and decorated with Fall leaves on the rocks.   This is really an under-rated waterfall, that offers some exceptional compositions.  

To reach the lower portion of the falls, you'll need to scramble down a very steep trail.  To get even closer, you'll need to wade through Big Creek, which depending on flow, can be challenging if not dangerous.

Fortunately, excellent compositions are visible from the top, and bottom, without having to cross Big Creek.

10 - Indian Creek Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Indian Creek Falls Deep Creek

Indian Creek Falls is one of 3 waterfalls along the waterfall loop in the Deep Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Deep Creek is located just outside of Bryson City NC.

Indian Creek Falls is one of our top picks due to being easy to access, but also do to it catching the falling leaves, and decorating itself with Fall colors, as you can see above.

Deep Creek is also a beautiful Fall hike, and you get to see two other easy to access waterfalls as well.  Visiting Indian Creek Falls is a win all around!

11 - Anna Ruby Falls, Georgia

Fall at Anna Ruby Falls

Photo by Kelly Verdeck

One of the most, if not the the most, popular waterfalls in the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains, is Anna Ruby Falls.   This is particularly true during the Fall, when the surrounding foliage, and the falls themselves are covered with Fall colors.

We put Anna Ruby Falls on our list due to the ability to take a long shot of the Falls, and capture tons of beautiful color, as seen in the photo below, by Kelly Verdeck.

Anna Ruby is two falls in one, with one fall being 153 feet, and the other, 50 feet.  Anna Ruby Falls is located in Unicoi State Park, and accessible from a trail.  A fee is required to enter, and the trail is 1/2 mile and paved.

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.

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