10 of the best and easiest waterfall hikes in the Southeast
With warmer weather, the time is now to get outside and explore. One fun way to do just that is to set out on a hike – but not just any hike. The following hikes not only provide great exercise and scenic beauty, but they also take you to some of the most gorgeous waterfalls found in the Southeast.
Amicalola Falls | Georgia
Amicalola Falls plunges 729 feet down — Photo courtesy of Georgia State Parks
Located in the state park of the same name in North Georgia, near Dahlonega and Ellijay, these falls tumble down 729 feet, making it one of the highest cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. Guests can hike from the bottom of the falls up to a viewing platform via a path and several staircases; a shorter, paved path provides easy access to the viewing platform for hikers of all abilities.
Whitewater Falls | North Carolina
Whitewater Falls is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies — Photo courtesy of Stacy Redmon/JCTDA
One of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies, Whitewater Falls is easily reached by a short, paved path for hikers who prefer a less strenuous excursion. At the end of the trail, you’ll love the views of the 811-foot-high falls. To get there, take North Carolina Highway 281 south from the junction of U.S. Highway 64 between Sapphire and Lake Toxaway 8.5 miles. Turn left at the Whitewater Falls sign.
Twin Falls | South Carolina
Two separate falls come together to create Twin Falls — Photo courtesy of DiscoverSouthCarolina.com
Also known as Reedy Cove Falls, this duo combines to create a beautiful setting. The left falls cascade down granite for 75 feet, while the right falls are a more modest drop. To reach the falls in Sunset, visitors will embark on an easy hike for a quarter mile from the parking area on Waterfalls Road.
Stinging Fork Falls | Tennessee
Even at just 35 feet high, Stinging Fork Falls remain quite spectacular — Photo courtesy of Ronnie Phipps
Located along the Cumberland Trail west of Spring City, these 35-foot falls may not be as dramatic as others on this list, but their beauty is just as spectacular. A moderate one-mile hike takes visitors to the falls, making it ideal for a quick day adventure.
Little River Falls | Alabama
Little River Falls is the starting point of Little River Canyon in North Alabama — Photo courtesy of John Dersham/Alabama Tourism Department
Found inside the Little River Canyon National Preserve in North Alabama, this 45-foot waterfall is the beginning of the Little River Canyon. It is easily accessible as soon as you enter the park from the north via a ¾-mile-long path. Most of the trail is easy, but the last 200 feet is difficult, so proceed with caution.
For another view, proceed to the bridge near the Little River Canyon Center, where you can see the falls from above.
Cumberland Falls | Kentucky
Cumberland Falls is the focal point of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park — Photo courtesy of Kentucky Department of Parks
Billed as the “Niagara of the South,” these falls plunge 68 feet in a gorgeous display, just a short walk from the parking lot in Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Corbin. For those wanting a quick and easy hike, a short half-mile trail provides scenic views of the river and Gatliff Bridge inside the park.
However, for even more stunning views of Cumberland Falls, take Trail #9, also known as Eagle Falls Trail. The 1.5-mile moderately rugged trail leads you to a bonus second 44-foot-drop waterfall called Eagle Falls.
Anna Ruby Falls | Georgia
Anna Ruby Falls holds court in the Chattahoochee National Forest — Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development
Accessible through Unicoi State Park in the Chattahoochee National Forest near Helen, this waterfall is actually two waterfalls cascading down from separate rivers into one combined river. Hikers can tackle a half-mile paved path to the falls, where they can watch the water plummet 150 feet down from the left fall and 50 feet from the right fall.
For a more challenging hike, take the 4.6-mile Smith Creek Trail inside the park.
High Falls | North Carolina
High Falls drops over 100 feet down in Western North Carolina — Photo courtesy of Jackson County TDA
Falling over 100 feet down from the West Fork Tuckasegee River, High Falls near the Pines Recreation Area in Cullowhee is an awesome display of nature’s power. To reach them, make sure you’re ready to climb stairs – a lot of stairs. Don’t worry; the view is worth it.
Great Falls | Tennessee
Head to Rock Island State Park for an impressive view of Great Falls — Photo courtesy of Cody Bryant
Located in Rock Island State Park southeast of Nashville, these falls are visible from the park’s overlook. For those who want to hike, take the steep, half-mile Upstream Trail leading into the gorge. The effort is worth it, thanks to the multiple waterfalls and unique rock formations you’ll see along the way.
Raven Cliff Falls | South Carolina
Raven Cliff Falls is one of South Carolina’s largest waterfalls — Photo courtesy of DiscoverSouthCarolina.com
At around 400 feet, these falls in Caesars Head State Park in Cleveland are the state’s largest and one of the most popular. The 90-minute, 2.2-mile moderate hike ends at an overlook across the gorge from the falls, making it an ideal place to take in the view. For those wanting a look at the falls from above, take the Gum Gap/Foothills Trail.
These waterfall hikes are ideal for a short adventure or a day out hiking and picnicking. Plus, many are easily accessible, making these hikes a great choice for most outdoor enthusiasts.