Elk River Falls
A hidden gem about 20 minutes from Linville and Grandfather Mountain, Elk River Falls is worth the visit. We love to take our visitors: it’s a quick adventure, absolutely beautiful, and a great spot for a memorable NC photo-op!
Near the Tennessee border, just outside the tiny town of Elk Park you will see a sign for Elk River Falls. The first time you turn off North Carolina’s 19E to Elk River Road, you think “surely there has been a mistake; this can’t be a road to any waterfall.” About half-way through the approximately four-mile drive, your second thought is, “if there is a waterfall, it must be very small.” You are wrong on both counts.
Finally you see the tranquil Elk River on your right and then, soon after, arrive at a small, unimportant-looking parking area (there is a sign). But once you are out of your car and on the path – you are quickly rewarded with the sight and sound of the area’s most significant waterfall. (Some maps ID the falls as “Big Falls”). Largest in the area by sheer volume of water and at 65’ in height, it makes an impressive sight.
It’s a moderate, 5-10 minute walk (on a 0.5 mile round-trip trail) to see the falls and surrounding pools. If you are adventuresome, bring swim gear and go for a dip in the calm waters below the falls. During the summer you will see locals enjoying the chilly water and sunning on the rocks. Be wary that the rocks, both in and out of the water, can be very slippery. In general, be careful in the area and do not jump off the falls, over the years, people have been killed trying that stunt.
For the less adventurous, a picnic, posing for pictures or just relaxing will do just fine.
FYI: the falls are in the Appalachian Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest and statistical info is from the USDA, National Forest in NC website