The Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway is a 76 mile loop, that takes you through Pisgah National Forest, east of Waynesville NC and west of Brevard NC. The loop will take you past numerous waterfalls, hiking trails, and beautiful scenery. You’ll even cross the Blue Ridge Parkway twice!
Popular and well known attractions along the way, include Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, and the Cradle of Forestry. The drive will take you about 2 hours in total. You should allow more time if you plan to stop and see the many attractions along the way.
The Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway is a loop, so you can start anywhere along the route and easily return to your starting point. The main access points are:
Waynesville and Maggie Valley NC are popular vacation destinations in Western NC, and Maggie Valley in particular is a very popular destination for motorcycle enthusiasts. Given that, we’ll start our walkthrough of the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway (the Copperhead Loop) from there.
From downtown Waynesville NC, take Highway 276 East to the small town of Bethel NC. There is a very nice convenience store here to gas up and grab refreshments. Just past Jukebox Junction, a popular local restaurant, is the intersection to Highway 215. Turn right onto Highway 215 heading South towards the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Highway 215 is a real hidden gem and is very scenic. This drive during the Fall is absolutely gorgeous, as the forest provides a color canopy over the road. If you enjoy fishing, the waters of the West Fork of the Pigeon River, you’ll see along your drive are full of mountain trout.
On your way to the Parkway, you’ll constantly increase in elevation, and pass a number of scenic points of interest, including:
After passing under the parkway, continue south on Highway 215, where the road will become very curvy, and you’ll descend rapidly in elevation. Along the way you’ll pass the access roads to both Dill Falls and Courthouse Falls. You’ll also pass by Living Water Ministries further down. Living Waters Ministries is a Christian Retreat Center, with three publicly accessible waterfalls and historic buildings. Access to the waterfalls is via trail located next to a small pull over on the side of Highway 215.
Highway 215 will run into highway 64 near Rosman. Turn left to continue on the loop towards Brevard, or take a detour to the right towards Cashiers and Sapphire where you can see more waterfalls, including: Whitewater Falls, Dry Falls, Callasaja Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Turtleback Falls.
After passing through Brevard, turn left onto Highway 276. If you have time, be sure to stop at downtown Brevard. There are some unique stores and restaurants there. While in the area, you can also visit Dupont State Park, only 15 minutes away.
Highway 276 will be one of the most beautiful sections of the drive, with numerous scenic points of interest in Pisgah National Forest, including:
After passing the Cradle of Forestry, you’ll twist and wind your way up the mountain, and reach your second crossing of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll then begin a very twisty and curvy descent back down to Bethel and the intersection of Highway 276 and Highway 215 to complete the loop. Just a mile or two past the Parkway, watch for the roadside waterfall on your left, just before a sharp right hand curve.
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