Mill Shoals Highly recommended waterfall for everyone!

Beauty Rating:
Short path
North Fork French Broad River and Shoal Creek
River Basin:
French Broad
2,760 feet
Type and Height:
Two falls about 15 feet high
Hike Distance:
A few hundred feet
Hike Difficulty:
Photo Rating:
Waterfall GPS:
Trailhead GPS:
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Driving Directions

From Beech Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway, head south on NC 215 for 9.35 miles. Park on the narrow shoulder on the right (west) side of the road just south of Living Waters Ministry. This is 7.7 miles north of US 64.

Hike Description

Walk toward the small red house on the south side of the ministry complex. Enter the woods just before the house. A short path leads to the river below the falls.


Shoal Creek enters North Fork French Broad River directly behind the ministry complex. Right before they join, both streams fall over the 15-foot ledge known as Mill Shoals. An old mill still stands below the falls on Shoal Creek. An interesting aspect of the larger of the two falls—the one on North Fork—is that it is a river-wide drop much wider than it is high. That is uncommon for waterfalls in North Carolina. That falls is also called French Broad Falls, the name used in the 1938 publication Scenic Resources of the Tennessee Valley. According to Jim Bob Tinsley in The Land of Waterfalls, the combined falls have also been called Elysium Falls and Twin Falls.

Some may question the low beauty rating, but I feel I’m being generous. A house stands on the river-right bank, spoiling the view, in my mind. The little red house that’s always been on the river-left bank was never a big distraction, as it fit with the overall historical aspect of the waterfall and mill. In fact, for a few years after it received a new coat of paint, it made an interesting enhancement to photo compositions. The paint is faded now, and the house seems in disrepair. An ugly green pipe used to run down to the mill house, but it’s gone. Fortunately for photographers, it’s easy to compose shots that exclude both houses, although you may still wish to shoot some compositions that include the red house.

The folks at Living Waters should be commended for allowing public access to Mill Shoals and to Bird Rock Falls downstream. Show your appreciation by conducting yourself properly while visiting—no littering, no alcohol, no pets off leash, no loud talking, no profanity, and no walking through the ministry complex. In other words, please show respect.