Even though the temperatures average in the 70’s during the summers here in the High Country, jumping in the cold mountain water can be hard to resist. Some waterfalls are an easy walk right off the main road, while some trails meander through the woods and open up to a hidden pool. Here is our insiders list of the best waterfalls and swimming holes to visit on your journey.
1. Big Elk River Falls
The roaring falls offer a large volume of water that plunges 85 feet creating a large swimming hole below. The falls are located in Elk Park and are easy to access from the parking area. Take 19E toward Tennessee and turn right onto Old Mill Rd, then left onto Elk River Rd. Travel several miles and the road dead-ends into the falls.
2. Glen Burney Falls
The trail to these falls is said to be an ancient Native American pathway and descends steeply through John’s River Gorge. The trail is less than 2 miles long and offers several mini falls along the way that make for good photographs. The trailhead is located in the heart of Blowing Rock on Laurel Lane, just two blocks from Main Street.
3. Linville Falls
A series of two falls, upper at 12 feet and lower at 90 feet, plunge into the 2,000 foot deep Linville Gorge. The falls can be viewed from a handicap accessible path while a few other trails can take you to other viewpoints. Parking is located at Milepost 316 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
4. Boone Fork Trail Falls
This trail has lots of little swimming holes located on paths off the trail. Some have slippery rocks that you can slide down at your own risk. The falls are located 25 feet down the trail from the Julian Price Park picnic area, located at Milepost 295 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock.
5. The Cascades
The Cascades is a series of three falls 30-40 feet in height that can be viewed from two overlooks. The trail to the overlooks is a 0.8 mile loop that also features educational trail markers on native plant life. The trailhead is located at E.B. Jeffress Park, Milepost 272, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.