The Most Beautiful Waterfalls Near Charlotte, NC

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Looking for some incredible waterfalls near Charlotte, NC? We can help! We’ve rounded up some of the very best waterfalls to hike to and bask in the beauty of near the Queen City. 

The city of Charlotte sits only at 751 feet above sea level, which isn’t terribly high. Why does this matter? Because to see amazing waterfalls, you need the water to fall from heights, which means you need to get higher into more mountainous territories. 

waterfalls near Charlotte

The closest waterfalls to Charlotte are at the beautiful South Mountains State Park, a little over an hour and 15 minutes away but we’ll tell you about more waterfalls within two-and-a-half hours from Charlotte and give you information about more than just one in those areas because, really, you will probably want to see more than just one waterfall when you’re driving that distance.

Best Practices Around Waterfalls 

Please remember to practice Leave No Trace principles and keep our lands and waterfalls as pristine – or better than – as you found them, which involves staying on the trail, packing out what you pack in, and not littering. Obey all leash laws and remember to never stand on top of a waterfall, no matter how awesome that Instagram photo will be. Many people have died doing the same thing. 

Lastly, be sure to assess the hiking abilities of all in your party before heading out and choose trails according to those abilities so everyone has fun. Happy hiking! 

Waterfalls Near Charlotte, NC

South Mountains State Park

Waterfall: High Shoals Falls
Hike: Yes; 2.5 mile moderate loop
Distance from Charlotte: 1.25 hours

3001 S Mountain Park, Connelly Springs, NC 

High Shoals Falls
High Shoals Falls

Green River Gamelands

Waterfalls: Lower Big Hungry Falls, Milton Bradley Falls, Green River Narrows, Little Bradley Falls
Hikes: Some. Lower Big Hungry Falls is roadside. There is a short, dirt trail next to the bridge to walk down. Lots of people swim here over the summer. Milton Bradley Falls is a 5-mile roundtrip easy hike. And the Green River Narrows is a 3-mile out-and-back hike that is easy except for the very steep part heading down to the river. It involves ropes that aren’t good for dogs and smaller kids. As for Little Bradley Falls, the hike is about 1.8 miles roundtrip. This is an easy hike except for the big water crossing. You’ll probably get wet. The trailhead is across from the Big Bradley Falls trailhead. 
Distance from Charlotte: 1.45 hours 

Lower Big Hungry: 2193 Co Road 1802, Flat Rock, NC
Milton Bradley Falls: 3772 Green River Cove Road, Saluda, NC 
Green River Narrows: Pulliam Creek Trailhead, 4134 Big Hungry Road, Flat Rock, NC 
Little Bradley Falls:  5336 Holbert Cove Road, Saluda, NC

Little Bradley Falls
Little Bradley Falls

Catawba Falls [currently closed]

Waterfall: Catawba Falls
Hike: Yes, an easy/moderate four mile out-and-back trail. This trail is currently closed as the forest service is building an observation platform. It is expected to open back up in the Spring of 2024.
Distance from Charlotte: 1.5 hours

3074 Catawba River Rd, Old Fort, NC

Chimney Rock State Park 

Waterfall: Hickory Nut Falls
Hike: Yes, an easy two mile trail leads to this beautiful waterfall inside Chimney Rock State Park. Take the lower route. The upper route only leads to the top of the waterfall, is a much longer hike, and you cannot see the waterfall. Please note that there is an entrance fee to Chimney Rock State Park.
Distance from Charlotte: 1.5 hours 

431 Main Street, Chimney Rock, NC

Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock State Park
Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock State Park

Linville Gorge

Waterfall: Linville Falls
Hike: Yes – there are two hikes to see this waterfall. One is parking at the Visitors Center off the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiking the Plunge Basin Trail down to the river for a 2-mile out and back hike. It’s easy on the way down but hard on the way back up. The other is hiking to the high overlooks along the rim of the Gorge for about a total of 1.5 miles. Add on Crabtree Falls or a visit to Linville Caverns for a fun day trip.
Distance from Charlotte: Just over 2 hours

Warrior Lane, Marion, NC

Linville Falls
Linville Falls

Crabtree Falls

Waterfall: Crabtree Falls
Hike: Yes, a moderate 2.5 loop hike. This is an absolutely beautiful hike and waterfall.
Distance from Charlotte: 2 hours and 10 minutes

39000 Blue Ridge Parkway, Marion, NC

Crabtree Falls
Crabtree Falls

DuPont Recreational State Forest 

Waterfalls: Several, including High Falls, Triple Falls, Hooker Falls, Bridal Veil Falls
Hike: Yes, the easiest hike is a quarter mile trail to Hooker Falls in Dupont State Forest, a popular swimming spot. You can see both High Falls and Triple Falls doing a 3-mile hike from the same parking lot as Hooker Falls. When you visit, go early in the morning or on a weekday as this forest is wildly popular. Parking areas are now limited due to overuse. Also, be sure to bring a map as the trail system is vast and trails overlap.
Distance from Charlotte: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, NC 

High Falls in DuPont Forest

Pisgah National Forest 

Waterfalls: Several, including Looking Glass, Moore Cove, and Sliding Rock 
Hike: Looking Glass Falls is roadside. You can get to Moore Cove Falls doing an easy 1.7 mile roundtrip hike, and Sliding Rock is not really a hike either, maybe a couple hundred yards from the parking lot. You must pay to park there over the summer as it’s a popular waterfall for sliding down into the cold water. Visit the Pisgah Ranger Station for information on other waterfalls in the area. 
Distance from Charlotte: 2 hours and 10 minutes

1600 Pisgah Hwy, Pisgah Forest, NC 

Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls

Happy waterfalling!

For more waterfalls, check out Waterfalls of the Southeast which is a long list of great waterfalls to visit with families.
Or, visit our list of Waterfalls near Greenville, SC. It has options in the Upstate and into Western North Carolina including Gorges State Park.

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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