CASHIERS AND SAPPHIRE AREA WATERFALLS
Cashiers Sliding Rock
A natural waterslide, created by the Chattooga River gliding over a 10-
foot high rock face with a few large potholes, Cashiers Sliding Rock is a
popular local spot during the summer because the water is quite cool.
You can slide down the rock, cannonball into one of the potholes or just
wade in the pool below the rock. From the intersection of NC 107 and
US 64 in Cashiers, follow NC 107 south for 1.9 miles to Whiteside Cove
Road. Turn right onto Whiteside Cove Road and follow it 2.8 miles to
the bridge over the Chattooga. Park and follow a short trail to the river.
Rainbow Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfall settings in the
Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This 150-foot tall waterfall
is impressive and its best feature is the ability to experience the
falls from the front, bottom, side and top! Located in the Nantahala
National Forest, adjacent to Gorges State Park, Rainbow Falls is just
one of four waterfalls on a two-mile stretch of the river.
To reach Rainbow Falls, it is a 1.5 mile hike from Gorges State Park at
the Grassy Ridge Parking area, about 2 miles after entering the park.
The trail to Rainbow Falls begins at the cluster of information boards
at the end of the parking lot and is blazed with orange circles until
you reach the National Forest. Then the trail is blazed with orange
When you near the river (about 1/2 mile), you will intersect with the
main trail. Fork to the right to continue up river to Rainbow Falls.
Continue up river about 1/3 mile to Turtleback Falls, a 20 foot drop
over a curved rockface into a pool that can have strong currents. At
lower water levels, it’s a popular spot to go sliding and swimming.
Walk another 1/2 mile (keep left at the trail fork—the right fork will
take you to the NC Highway 281 entrance) to Drift Falls, a beautiful
80-foot rock slide. However, the Falls are just past the National Forest
boundary and on private property. At the end of the trail, you can
enjoy a great view of the Falls from a distance. But don’t go past the
“do not enter” signs. There is a hefty fine if you are caught trespassing.
Return and walk back the same trail to reach your car at Gorges.
From Highlands, take US 64 East to Cashiers, NC intersection and
then continue on US 64 East for another 10 miles to NC 281 South
in Sapphire, NC. Turn right and follow NC 281 South for 1 mile to the
Grassy Ridge Access entrance to Gorges State Park. Enter the park and
drive 1.6 miles to the parking area at the bottom of the loop road.
(Just eight miles from Gorges State Park is Upper Whitewater Falls,
the highest waterfall east of the Rockies, and worth the drive!)
Silver Run Falls
A 30-foot Falls spills into a pool of water, making for a nice swimming
hole at the base of the Falls. The area can be crowded on a warm day.
To get to these Falls, head east on US 64 to Cashiers. Turn right on Hwy
107 South. Silver Run Falls is 4.1 miles down on the left. Park in the
pull-off on the left and take the short, easy trail to the base.
This is North Carolina’s highest waterfall and the highest waterfall
east of the Rockies, with the upper portion falling 411 feet! It’s part
of the Whitewater River in the Jocassee Gorge area of North Carolina
just before you reach South Carolina. For an excellent view of
Whitewater Falls, follow the paved 1/4-mile walkway to the upper
overlook. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot and is
accessible to wheelchairs. A lower overlook with an even better view
is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps. The only full views of
the falls are from these two overlooks. From Highlands, take US
64 East to Cashiers, and then turn right on NC Highway 107 South for
nine miles. Turn left onto SC Highway 130 South for 3.3 miles to the
Whitewater Falls entrance.