Top 11 North Carolina Waterfalls For Autumn Photography


Okay, let’s be honest here. There’s no such thing as the 11 best waterfalls for anything. It’s all subjective. I’ve simply chosen 11 of my favorites.

For fall color, I look for a number of factors in determining which ones are best. These factors include Waterfalls that have still pools that collect the leaves, those with flat rocks around the base for collecting the leaves, distant views that include surrounding forests that look good in autumn, and, of course, waterfalls that have suitable trees along the banks. Another thing I like that might not be as obvious is having a juxtaposition between the fall color and the color green. I like falls that have lots of lush moss and/or rhododendron leaves that blend with the autumn leaves.

A link at each waterfall takes you to the main listing for that falls. The main listing provides complete details, including directions. It also displays many additional photos.

Why a Top 11 list instead of Top 10? I never could follow rules.

In no particular order, here are my choices.


Upper Sols Creek Falls

1  Upper Sols Creek Falls

The cascades below the main drop of this gorgeous waterfall make a perfect complementing element for photos, particularly in autumn. There are plenty of surfaces for fallen leaves to lie upon. Visit the main page for Upper Sols Creek Falls.



Potholes Falls

2  Potholes Falls

Although small, Potholes Falls on Chattooga River packs a big punch for photographers. You can shoot from the bridge that crosses the river directly above the falls or climb down and get intimate with it. Numerous potholes add wonderful elements to photos or they can be framed as the principal subject. Visit the main page for Potholes Falls.



Buckeye Falls

3  Buckeye Falls

Tucked deep within Middle Prong Wilderness Area and off the trail, Buckeye Falls is not easy to reach. But the reward for the difficult hike is one of the more photogenic waterfalls in the state. In October, the lush moss and green rhododendron leaves compliment the yellows of the birches and occasional yellow rhodo leaves. Visit the main page for Buckeye Falls.



Hunt Fish Falls

4  Hunt Fish Falls

Hunt Fish Falls is small, but the surrounding forest is filled with color in October. The large pool below the falls makes a great catch basin for fallen leaves. Most people visit the waterfall in summer because the pool and flat rocks make a terrific play spot. They can have it in summer. I’ll take October, thank you. Visit the main page for Hunt Fish Falls.



Linville Falls

5  Linville Falls

Linville Falls would make it in a top 11 list in many categories, including beauty, geology, and all-around awesomeness. But for autumn, it’s really hard to beat. The distant viewpoints allow you to see the forests on the surrounding walls of the gorge, forests that are filled with color. The views are not as stellar as they once were, now that all of the hemlock trees are dead. But Linville Falls still easily makes the list for me. Visit the main page for Linville Falls.



Crabtree Falls

6  Crabtree Falls

With its countless little ledges that break up the flow of water, Crabtree Falls is among the finest waterfalls for photography in the state. Add the surrounding fall color and you have an unbeatable combination. Visit on an overcast day or, even better, a rainy day, and you’d have to try hard to make a bad photo here. Visit the main page for Crabtree Falls.



Glassmine Falls

7  Glassmine Falls

Most days of the year, Glassmine Falls is not worth even the easy effort of pulling into the overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway and looking out your car window. The flow is typically very low, or even nonexistent during dry spells. But if you can see it during or right after heavy rain, it’s a beautiful sight. And if that rain occurs in October, you’ll have a terrific photo op. Visit the main page for Glassmine Falls.



Second Falls

8  Second Falls

If I had to pick my favorite waterfall for fall color, Second Falls would probably be it. It makes a great photo subject from the base, but where it really shines is from the distant view on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The high-elevation forest surrounding the falls typically shows more color than any place of similar size I can think of. It doesn’t get any better than this, folks. Visit the main page for Second Falls.



Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades

9  Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades

Here’s another waterfall that’s visible from the road and with a surrounding forest that looks good in October. But if you’re able, you’ll definitely want to hike down to the falls and explore alongside it. You’ll find nice cascades, pools, whirlpools, potholes, and great photo ops all along the falls. Visit the main page for Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades.



Whitewater Falls

10  Whitewater Falls

The patriarch of North Carolina’s waterfalls, Whitewater Falls sits on many top 11 lists. In autumn, the surrounding forest is ablaze in color. The view is not as good as it once was since all of the huge hemlock trees are dead and you no longer have the deep green complimenting the fall color. But don’t let that stop you. Whitewater Falls is a must-see North Carolina Waterfall and October is the best time to see it in my opinion. Visit the main page for Whitewater Falls.



Lower Sam Branch Falls

11  Lower Sam Branch Falls

It’s hard to beat this waterfall in October. Colorful fallen leaves collect in the pools and on the rocks and provide countless photo ops. For those who are able to do a little scrambling, there are several different vantage points you can reach to view the various levels of the falls. Each provides terrific photo ops. Visit the main page for Lower Sam Branch Falls.