Top Frozen Waterfalls to visit in the Blue Ridge

Winter here in the Blue Ridge Mountains not only brings cold weather but many different and unique things to see and do.  While the waterfalls of the Blue Ridge Mountains are always gorgeous and beautiful to see, seeing a frozen waterfall during the winter is magical and simply amazing.  

Blue Ridge waterfalls, and areas surrounding them, in cold temperatures, freeze up, causing the waterfalls themselves, the creeks, and the areas around the waterfalls to transform into magical icy winter wonderlands and natural sculptures.

Winter Looking Glass Falls
A frozen Looking Glass Falls – Photo by Steven Freedman Photography

Not all waterfalls are easily accessible in the winter, due to the ice, which can make creek crossings very dangerous.  Additionally, many forest access roads that take you to the waterfalls are closed during the winter or may be dangerous to drive, so please be careful and use your best judgment.

But if you’re brave enough to head out in the cold temperatures, your adventure will be worth it!   But be sure you have the proper gear when viewing frozen waterfalls!  Here are some suggestions:

  • Dress in layers, and wear wool or “stay-dry” clothing.
  • Wear high-quality gloves
  • Wear hiking boots, and wear thick socks
  • Bring [easyazon_link identifier=”B00RXXD41E” locale=”US” tag=”blueridgemountainlife-20″]Microspikes[/easyazon_link] for your boots – These can really make a difference.
  • Bring water and some snacks.
  • Bring your [easyazon_link identifier=”B01D93Z89W” locale=”US” tag=”blueridgemountainlife-20″]camera[/easyazon_link] of course!

Top Frozen Waterfalls to Visit in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Here are our top frozen waterfalls to Visit, in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  All of these are easily accessible and located either roadside or along short and easy to moderate hikes.

Cascade Falls, Pembroke Virginia

Frozen Cascade Falls Virginia
Frozen Cascade Falls Virginia

Cascade Falls (also called The Cascades) is located along a 4-mile round trip hike.  The Cascades area very popular waterfall and summer swimming hole, and is a beautiful waterfall.  During the winter, and under the right conditions, it turns into a winter wonderland, that is easily accessible and makes for some great winter photography.   To find this frozen waterfall, follow this guide with directions and a trail walkthrough.

Courthouse Falls

Frozen Courthouse Falls

One of our personal favorite Blue Ridge waterfalls is Courthouse Falls, located off Highway 215 in North Carolina.   The drive out the hike is beautiful, the hike itself is short and very pretty.  Due to it’s remote location, it’s not near as busy as many of the other waterfalls listed here.   Accessibility to this frozen waterfall during winter weather may keep you from being able to visit – As a 4×4 will be required, assuming the gate is open.

The hike to the falls is about .5 miles roundtrip, is creekside and very pretty. 

>> See our Guide to Courthouse Falls for more information.

Dry Falls, Highlands NC

Frozen Dry Falls NC
Frozen Dry Falls NC – Photo by Nancy Parrish

Dry Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls on the east coast and in the Blue Ridge Mountains.   The waterfall is gorgeous, and roadside, and is one of the few waterfalls you can walk behind.   When Dry Falls freezes, there is plenty of room to walk behind it, and due to the way it freezes, it provides the feel of walking through a frozen cavern.  This frozen waterfall is not one you’ll want to miss!

>> Check out our complete guide to Dry Falls for more information.

Grotto Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Frozen Grotto Falls
Frozen Grotto Falls – Photo by Gina Mitchell

Grotto Falls is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, along the Trillium Gap Trail.  The falls are about the 1.5-mile mark.   Grotto Falls is the only waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can walk behind.  During the winter, in freezing temperatures, Grotto Falls freezes solid forming a beautiful natural ice sculpture that you can walk behind!

 For more information on Trillium Gap Trail and Grotto falls, go here.

Hooker Falls – Dupont State Park

Frozen Hooker Falls
Frozen Hooker Falls – Photo by Michele Schwartz

Hooker Falls is located in Dupont State Forest, and not only is it a very popular waterfall, but it is also the filming location for a number of movies, including The Last of the Mohicans.   The waterfall is just a short hike down a not very steep trail.   Hooker Falls is one of a number of waterfalls along the Dupont State Forest Waterfalls Trail.   

The elevation of Hooker Falls is lower than others listed here, and as a result, a much harder cold freeze will have to occur, to see this frozen waterfall.  But it does happen, as it did recently during the first week in January 2018.

>> Visit our Guide to Hooker Falls for more information, including directions and photos!

Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway

Frozen Linville Falls
A Frozen Linville Falls, by Ashley Haskett Photography

Linville Falls is a very popular stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and a place everyone should try to visit.   During the Winter Linville Falls, can freeze up providing a unique and beautiful perspective of the falls, not normally viewable.  This section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is often closed during the winter, and especially during bad weather conditions.   

In order to access the Falls during Parkway closures, you’ll need to use the secondary entrance, from the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area (Pisgah National Forest).  This entrance is near the town of Linville Falls.  The hike is under two miles, with only a few steep areas.

Due to the amount of water volume flowing through Linville Falls, for it to freeze up solid, is very rare.   During the first week in January of 2018, it did just that.   Prior to that, was during the 80s.   Appalachian Exposures captured people climbing on this frozen waterfall!  Very rare!

Frozen Linville Falls
Climbers on Frozen Linville Falls, by Appalachian Exposures.  Visit their website.

>> For more information on Linville Falls, see our complete guide.

Looking Glass Falls, Brevard NC

Looking Glass Falls
A frozen Looking Glass Falls by Michele Schwartz.

Looking Glass Falls, located off of Highway 276 near Brevard NC is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Blue Ridge in general, and also one of the most popular frozen waterfalls to visit.  The Falls are roadside and easy to reach in most weather conditions!  

>> See our guide for more information on Looking Glass Falls.

Mingo Falls, Cherokee NC

Frozen Mingo Falls
Frozen Mango Falls by – Jeremy Grant

Mingo Falls is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in Cherokee NC.  While the walk up to the falls is short, it’s moderate in difficulty due to being uphill on stairs all the way up.  Mingo Falls is definitely worth it, especially when it’s iced over due to freezing temperatures.   The falls has a nice observation deck that provides fantastic views of the frozen waterfall and cascades.

>> See our guide for more information on Mingo Falls.

Moore Cove Falls, NC

Frozen Moore Cove Falls
Frozen Moore Cove Falls – By Steven Freedman Photography

Moore Cove Falls is a popular waterfall, located in Pisgah National Forest, near Brevard NC.   The falls are located along a .5 mile roundtrip hike.  What makes Moore Cove Falls unique, is that during the summer, you can stand at the bottom, and even walk behind the waterfall.   Moore Cove Falls is not a strong flow waterfall, so in the winter during freezing temperatures, it ices up in a unique way, by forming an ice pile at the base.

>> See our guide to Moore Cove Falls for directions, photos, video and more.

Soco Falls, Maggie Valley NC

Frozen Soco Falls, Maggie Valley NC
Frozen Soco Falls, Maggie Valley NC – By Gina Mitchell

Soco Falls, near Maggie Valley NC and right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a gorgeous waterfall.  The falls are somewhat of a “hidden gem”, in that many people drive right by them, and don’t even know they are there.   Soco Falls is actually two waterfalls that cascade down together, forming one creek at the base.   During the winter, and in freezing temperatures, Soco Falls freezes and becomes cascading ice.

>> See our full guide for Soco Falls for detailed directions, tips, video, photos and more.

Sunburst Falls

Frozen Sunburst Falls
Frozen Sunburst Falls as viewed from the bridge.

Sunburst Falls is a roadside waterfall, that flows through an old stone bridge on Highway 215 in North Carolina.  The combination of the bridge and waterfall makes for a beautiful scene.   The best part of this pretty waterfall is how easy it is to see.  You can literally see it from your car while driving over the bridge.  For a better view, a small pullout is located just past the waterfall.   

During the winter, you can often find this waterfall fully or partially frozen, making a beautiful scene even more magical.  This frozen waterfall is one you’ll want to have on your list while on your way to view other nearby frozen waterfalls.

>> See our full Guide to Sunburst Falls for directions, photos, and tips for viewing the falls.

Frozen Sunburst Falls from below
Frozen Sunburst Falls from below

Frozen Waterfall Videos

Here are a few videos we’ve captured of Frozen Waterfalls:

Courthouse Falls Video

Sunburst Falls

Lower Sam Branch Falls:

Other Waterfalls

There are literally 100s of waterfalls to see in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and those listed are just a few of the more easily accessed, especially in the winter.   But many of the waterfalls freeze up after a week or so of freezing temperatures.  You can find our complete list of Blue Ridge Mountain Waterfalls on our Waterfalls Guide Page.   Many will be accessible via hikes during the winter, others may not be depending on weather and road closures.  If you’re unsure, you can always ask in our Blue Ridge Mountain Life Facebook group.

Frozen Schoolhouse Falls, NC
Frozen Schoolhouse Falls by Thomas Mabry (The Badger)



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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