Waterfalls Highlands NC
and Brevard Fall Foliage
Fall colors, high mountains and waterfalls Highlands NC to Brevard fall foliage scenic drive, an irresistible combination for a magnificent fall foliage day trip.
In the mountain town of Brevard fall foliage is a splendid backdrop for a pretty town with a bustling Main Street. The town is also home to many white squirrels, and they are especially pretty when seen surrounded by the brilliant reds, golden yellows and bright oranges of autumn leaves.
Admire the Brevard fall foliage as you head south on US 64 and enter the wooded wonderland of Pisgah National Forest. The road curves frequently as it follows the contours of the mountains, providing fall color scenery around every bend in the road.
Highway 64 travels through both Pisgah National Forest and Nantahala National Forest on the way to see the waterfalls Highlands NC is famous for. This unique region has high levels of precipitation, resulting in the greatest biodiversity in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The fall colors and scenic vistas along the high crests of the southern mountains are spectacular. For long stretches the road winds through dense forest where hardwood trees of many varieties create dazzling patterns of color, and the forest floor is covered with shrubs and fallen leaves that add an ever-changing autumn palette of crimsons, golds, ruddy reds, purples and bright yellows.
Continue on US 64 when it joins with NC 281, about 16 miles out of Brevard. Fall foliage views with glimpses of Lake Toxaway are available along this stretch of highway. The 640 acre lake with 14 miles of shoreline is a private lake and second home community.
You'll pass through the tiny crossroads town of Cashiers surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. We often stop at the country-chic Cashiers Farmer's Market. Inside you can buy everything needed for an upscale picnic, from deli delights to ripe tomatoes and fine wines. They also home-smoke some of the most delicious pork ribs to be found in the mountains.
About 4.4 miles west of Cashiers, watch carefully for a pull out with a magnificent view as you come around a sharp bend in the road. Known as the Big View, this is one of the most photographed places in the area. The panoramic view from beside the road is breathtaking any time of the year, and during fall foliage season it is even more so. Part of Whiteside Mountain with its sheer granite cliffs is visible from here.
If you want to hike to the top of Whiteside Mountain, watch for the Whiteside Mountain Road turnoff in about .4 mile. Turn left and drive for one mile to the parking lot. The moderate hiking trail is a two mile loop with a few tricky spots, and an elevation gain of about 800 feet to the top of Whiteside Mountain on the eastern continental divide. The hike will take about an hour and a half, but the wide angle fall colors views are so amazing you may want to linger. The trail follows the cliff line for awhile, offering a great variety of fall foliage scenic views of the Chattooga River Valley far below, and more than twenty other mountain peaks from the summit. Return to US 64 and continue on to see the waterfalls Highlands NC is known for.
Soon you will enter the pretty resort mountain town of Highlands NC, with its fine restaurants and downtown shopping district. There is plenty of parking in downtown Highlands, which makes stopping to browse in the shops and galleries easy. The mountain air is often pleasantly crisp and clear in this high mountain town.
Follow US 64, the Waterfall Byway, west out of town to see the waterfalls Highlands NC is recognized for. This section of the fall foliage day trip includes lots of fall colors, scenic views and fascinating waterfalls. Highlands NC has an elevation just over 4000 feet, and the narrow curvy road follows the Cullasaja Gorge for 8 spectacular miles. Along the byway, there are three major waterfalls near Highlands NC that are worth seeing.
Very popular, misty Bridal Veil Falls is also a really unique experience as you can drive your car behind the waterfall! Watch for the sign about 2.5 miles from Highlands NC. The main highway bypasses the falls, but the turnoff for the old road still leads behind the waterfall. Less than a mile further Dry Falls, with a 50 foot drop, is also unusual as a footpath leads behind the falls! Visitors on the footpath stay mostly dry, which accounts for the falls name.
The road continues on, becoming very narrow and rougher as it follows a ledge carved into the towering cliff. The autumn fall foliage views are absolutely spectacular. Watch closely for the one small parking area, the only place to pull over and see the awesome view of the double cataract Cullasaja Falls as it drops 200 feet.
Soon US 64 descends into the lowlands and the valley widens, changing the autumn view to pastoral farmland. You can either continue on to Franklin, or turn around and drive back past these unique waterfalls Highlands NC is rightfully proud of.
Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Colors
Scenic Drive, Blowing Rock to Asheville, with best fall foliage spots, great walks and renowned craft shops of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild.
Cold Mountain North Carolina
Spectacular fall foliage scenic drive around Cold Mountain of movie and book fame delivers impressive mountain vistas, waterfalls and striking fall colors.
WNC High Country
Stunning fall foliage scenic drive through beautiful fall color in the mountains between Boone North Carolina and Spruce Pine NC.
Smoky Mountains Fall Colors
Our favorite little-known autumn drive to see Smoky Mountain fall colors is into the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, home of the Cataloochee elk herd.
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