Living Waters Ministry NC – Mill Shoals Falls and Cathedral Falls

Located in Balsam Grove NC, off Highway 215 and south of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you'll find a private religious retreat called Living Waters.   Living waters is home to three primary waterfalls, Mill Shoals Falls, French Broad Falls and Cathedral Falls, and a few other un-named smaller waterfalls.

Visitors are welcome on the property, and invited to come and see the waterfalls.  There are signs that says 'Private Property, Visit at your own risk".

What you need to know

Location: Balsam Grove NC, off Highway 215 at Living Waters Ministry

Handicap Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: Yes

Features: 4 different waterfalls, and one at the base of a beautiful old mill.  Nice short and easy hike, with creek views.

Directions: From The Blue Ridge Parkway, take Highway 215 South 9 miles, and you'll see Living Waters on your right.  There is a small pull-off parking area on the right.  Be warned though, the drop off the road is pretty big, and may not be suitable for lower ground clearance vehicles.   There is also parking across the 215 on the side road.

Recommended Gear: Camera, water, comfortable shoes or hiking boots.

Getting to Living Waters and the Trailhead

Living Waters is located 9 miles south on Highway 215 from the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, in a community called Balsam Grove.  You'll see the Living waters buildings on your right.  Drive down just past the buildings, and you'll see pull-over parking on your right.   Additional parking is available across the road and also on down.

The trailhead down is just south of the pull-over parking, and past the mill building.   You'll see both Mill Shoals Falls, and French Broad Falls from the trail as you are coming down.   The trail down to Cathedral Falls goes to the left.

Living Waters Ministry Waterfalls Video

Hike with us as we take you on a full tour of Living Waters Ministry and the waterfalls.

Mill Shoals Falls and French Broad Falls

Living Waters Ministry NC

As you come down the beginning of the trailhead, you immediately see the absolutely stunning twin falls of Mill Shoals and French Broad Falls.   Even better?  Mill Shoals falls sits directly below a beautiful historic and bright red grist mill, that is part of the ministry.

Both falls are about 15-20 foot high, and the pools below the falls are the intersection of Shoal Creek and the north fork of the french board river.  

The scene makes for some gorgeous photo opportunities.   The falls and pools below it, are a common swimming area for kids and adults.  There are lots of rocks and boulders to hang out on, and some shallow water for younger kids as well.   These two falls will be the highlight of your visit.

Cathedral Falls, and two other un-named waterfalls

From the twin falls, head back towards the parking area, and you'll see a trail heading to your right along the creekside.   Follow this trail down about 1/4 - 1/2 mile to Cathedral Falls (also called Bird Rock Falls)

While hiking along this easy trail, you'll cross a number of bridges, and pass a few small trails going down to two other very nice waterfalls.   You'll also pass by a beautiful overlook, and a small cave area that is used by the ministry for counseling and campfires.   

The trail follows the creek down, and you'll find yourself hiking through lots of Rhododendron, which form a tunnel around you.  The trail is really pretty pretty, and well maintained by the Ministry.

The last portion of the trail to Cathedral falls goes down a large rock to the creek.  Be careful here, as the rock can be slick.  Cathedral Falls will be to your right and a very tall rocky cliff directly in front of you.

Other Waterfalls Nearby

Highway 215 is full of waterfalls, and some you will pass right by on the way to Living Waters.  These include:

You can find all of our waterfalls guides on our Waterfalls Page.

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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