Cullasaja Falls NC

Cullasaja Falls NC is a 250′ tall and majestic waterfall located off of Highway 64 in the Cullasaja Gorge, near Highlands NC.  The falls are viewable mainly from the road.

Location: Highlands, NC
Roundtrip Distance: The waterfall is roadside, however there is an unofficial trail leading down to the base of the falls.
Difficulty: Easy.  Trail to the base is very difficult.
Handicap Accessible: Yes, from the parking area
Dog Friendly: Yes
Features: Waterfall, roadside parking
Directions: Take I-40 West take 23/74 W towards Waynesville (Exit 27). Take 23/74W to Franklin. At Franklin take Highway 64 East toward Highlands. Cullasaja Falls is on the right on Highway 64, about 8 miles from Franklin.
Recommended Gear: No special gear, the waterfall is roadside. Just bring your camera!

Cullasaja Falls NC

Cullasaja Falls NC

Cullasaja Falls is a big waterfall, located off Highway 64 near Highlands, NC.  The Cullasaja River flows through Cullasaja Gorge, and cascades 250′ down large rock to form the Cullasaja Falls.  

The waterfall is viewable from the road using a small pull over and parking area, large enough for 5 or so cars.  This section of Highway 64 is dangerous due to being narrow, high up, and high in traffic.   The road is literally on a cliffside here.

There is not sign for this waterfall, and the parking area is just after a sharp turn, so be prepared, as it will sneak up on you.

The pullover is best accessed coming from Franklin.  Pull in and make sure you are out of the road.   Cars drive by fast here, so stay away from the road as much as you can and if you have children, watch them very closely.  You will literally be only feet from Highway 64.

Cullasaja Falls NC from the Parking Area
Cullasaja Falls NC from the Parking Area

Cullasaja Falls NC is viewable from a couple of different locations here, one towards the upper portion of the parking area, where a small trail takes you to a viewing area.  The other is from the parking areas itself from the lower portion of the parking area.

Cullasaja Falls NC Trail

While there is no formal trail to the base of the falls, towards the right side of the parking area (if you’re looking at the falls) is a very steep informal trail that hikers have made that will take you down to the base of the falls.  The trial is marked with red tape every so often.  You’ll need to cross over the guardrail to access the trail.

Cullasaja Falls NC
From the base of the Falls

Warning, this trail is VERY steep, and slipping or falling could result in you being seriously injured or killed.  This trail should only be attempted by experienced hikers with appropriate gear, including climbing rope.

From the bottom of the trail, you can then rock hop up or down the river to get different views of the falls.  Again, big warning, the current here is VERY strong, and you could easily be washed downstream if you slipped.  Be very careful.

Cullasaja Falls NC

While on Highway 64, be sure to stop by Dry Falls a little further down the road, and Bridal Veil Falls as well.

Cullasaja Falls NC Photo Gallery

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Cullasaja Falls NC Video

Here is a great video I found that highlights the parking area, the falls, and where the trailhead to go down to the base of the falls is.

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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