Sunburst Falls is a beautiful waterfall that crosses under an old stone bridge on Route 215 between Bethel, NC and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Falls are on a creek called the West Fork of the Pigeon River, but is more commonly called Sunburst Falls by locals, due to it being just up the road from the Sunburst area.
The upper portion of the Falls is easily visible from the road, and is a popular stopping spot for people driving up the very scenic and beautiful Highway 215.
Sunburst Falls is literally right next to the Highway 215, and crosses under a gorgeous curved 1930s stone bridge. The water flows through an arch in the bridge and plummets into some smaller falls below the bridge. There are really two sets of falls you can visit here, an upper falls which is above the bridge, an a lower falls below the bridge.
The upper portion of Sunburst Falls is accessible from the road. Parking is available in a small pull-over on the south side of the bridge on Highway 215. From the parking lot, you can walk up to the guard rail and see the Falls, or cross over the guardrail on get a close look on the other side. Just watch for cars, as the waterfall and bridge is in a tight turn, and cars often coming speeding by this area.
Also, if you decide to venture onto the rocks, be really careful, as the rocks can be very slick here, and the drop to the area below the bridge if you were to fall would most likely be deadly.
To see the lower portion of the falls, cross the road from the parking area. You will see a small trail leading down the steep hill. You’ll need to do shimmy down the hill. Go slow here, and you’ll be fine.
The lower portion of the falls is gorgeous, with lots of small falls, and rocks to hop on. There are plenty of places to explore, and the area down below is much larger than you would expect. Of course be careful, as the rocks can be slick, especially when the water is high.
The lower area really gives you a great view of the 1930’s curved stone bridge, which is gorgeous. The waterfall flows down through an arch in the bridge, and into a pool at the bottom. This makes for a great swimming hole, that few people use. The water here is crystal clear, having very little silt or debris.
If you make your way further down the creek by rock hopping, there are other small falls you can enjoy and photograph.
Sunburst Falls is located directly off Highway 215. From The Blue Ridge Parkway, take the Highway 215 Exit (at Milepost 423) and go North. Follow 215 for 4.2 miles, and you will cross a bridge that is in a turn. You’ll see the upper portion of the falls from your car to the left, and immediately after the bridge, there will be a small parking area on the left.