Folks ask me all the time what there is to do in Asheville during the winter months. Despite what they might initially think, my answer usually surprises them! As the area, long known for its beauty in the spring, summer and fall months, becomes more of a year around resort destination, visitors are discovering that many of its natural wonders are just, if not more, spectacular during the chilly winter months.
Such is the case with Western North Carolina’s famous waterfalls. With fair weather crowds long gone, the solitude, sounds and scenery Mother Nature delivers can be both cathartic and inspiring during winter hikes to visit the ice encased cathedrals she has created throughout our mountains. And, with forest canopies stripped of their foliage, the scenic views found along the way are unobstructed and breathtaking to behold.
So, if you’re one of those wondering about what to do during a winter visit to Asheville, here are some of our favorite waterfalls, all of which are a short drive from Engadine. Let us fix you up with a thermos of Rick’s famous hot chocolate or a picnic basket filled with scrumptious goodies to enjoy along the way so you can create your own enjoyable and memorable experience to take back home with you.
Looking Glass Falls– Looking Glass is often described as the most beautiful and most photographed waterfall in North Carolina. Located between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Brevard on US 276, Looking Glass is probably one of the easiest waterfalls to access. It is literally located on the side of the road where there is ample parking and where you’ll find an overlook for viewing and taking photos. And if you’re jonesing for more after visiting Looking Glass, you might also check out nearby Sliding Rock Falls. Neither will disappoint! But when visited together, these two beauties will leave you speechless!
High, Triple and Hooker Falls at Dupont State Forest– This trifecta of waterfalls is accessed by a 3-mile loop trail that offers a relatively easy hike with a limited change in elevation. Famous as filming location for many movies and TV shows, these thundering beauties are framed by dramatic granite outcroppings and accented by their proximity to one another. If you are up for it and want more, Dupont State Forest also offers over 85 miles of trails providing access to other waterfalls and amenities.
Dry Falls– Located just outside of Highlands, Dry Falls is not only beautiful, it has two unique features. The first is that you can actually walk behind the falling water! The second is that because you are in such close proximity, this waterfall really thunders! After descending the series of ramps and walkways leading from the upper parking area, a short trail extends behind and beyond the fall so that you can better view the gorge into which the water falls. It’s a pretty unique experience! While you’re in the area, you might also take in nearby Bridal Veil Falls.
Catawba Falls– If you are interested in a more robust hike during your visit to a waterfall, Catawba Falls might be your best option. Located just a few miles off of I-40 near Old Fort (east of Asheville and Black Mountain), Catawba Falls is actually a series of waterfalls. The trail offers a constantly changing landscape as it winds through shady forests, past rocky outcroppings, along the Catawba River, at one point crossing the river on a recently installed bridge and past interesting landmarks such as the ruins of an old riverside powerhouse. A visit to Catawba Falls should be considered a full-day experience.
If you’re searching for a winter getaway destination, one which offers socially distancing outdoor recreation, Asheville and Western North Carolina might be just what you need to recharge your batteries. Give us a call! We’ll be happy to help you craft a fun and memorable experience!
A Note of Caution: When visiting the area’s waterfalls, NEVER venture off the trails and NEVER approach or enter the water. The areas around waterfalls can be EXTREMELY slippery and dangerous. Falls from waterfalls can result in serious injury or even death!