Greenville, South Carolina is situated in a relatively unusual topographical area. In the northwestern inland portion of South Carolina, Greenville and its surrounding area have plenty of water features. The city and its surrounding areas are actually known for their waterfalls.
The area is home to several major lakes and rivers. Each lake tends to have arms and tendrils reaching out, creating a higher likelihood of chokepoints for waterfalls to form. Greenville is thus one of the best places to find beautiful and majestic waterfalls.
Whether you're looking for the impressive 411' drop of the Upper Whitewater Falls or an 80' freefalling creek is more of your speed, the Greenville area has a wide array of stunning water features to explore. Most are free and easy to access, but a few require some planning ahead. All are worth the trip, from Crabtree to Triple Falls.
We put together a list of the best 15 waterfalls to travel to in the Greenville area. They vary quite a bit in size and shape, with plenty of activities to participate in upon arrival.
Keep reading to learn both the cost of admission and ease of access for each one. The following should help you plan out your next trip to Greenville, South Carolina.
1. Falls Park On The Reedy
These beautiful falls are set in urban Greenville. A nearby walking and running path make accessing the falls on foot incredibly easy. A bike path bridge nearby spans the river and provides a good view of the falls at speed.
Although just as beautiful during the day, these falls are best viewed at night. With the city skyline in the backdrop, Falls Park and its tasteful evening lighting really show off Greenville in the most flattering way.
Further up the river, find the man-made dam producing currents in the water. There are numerous historic buildings and areas up and down the river.
Walk down the path and immerse yourself in Greenville history while enjoying the gentle running water of the Reedy River. As a public area, the falls are not patrolled or guarded. Guests should keep this in mind and practice safety while visiting any waterfall.
Address: 601 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Easy
2. Wildcat Branch Falls
These falls are easy to moderately easy to access. There are actually a series of falls here, and a mile-long trail out and back takes hikers up to the 100-foot upper falls.
Along the way, hikers pass by the ruins of an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The upper falls look more like a waterslide than a large waterfall.
It ends in a shallow pool that often has locals and visitors alike swimming in it during hot summer days. The water is cool, and the hiking trail is safe.
This set of waterfalls and the hiking trail next to it are very easy to access. As a roadside attraction, it is also free.
On certain days you may even be able to catch vendors in the parking lot. They sell everything from snacks and beverages to novelty items.
Address: Wildcat Wayside Wilderness Area, Cleveland, SC 29635Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Easy
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3. Looking Glass Falls
Part swimming hole, part beautiful waterfall, the Looking Glass Falls are well known in the Southeast region. Technically across the border in North Carolina, these falls are in the greater Greenville area and included on this list.
Just a short drive out from the city, these falls are a must-see for any traveler. The tall and impressive main waterfall flows over a sheer cliff edge. The river down below trickles away through a series of rock features.
Easy to access from the roadside and with no restrictions or admission, these falls have to be on your list when traveling around Greenville.
Adventurous guests should pack a bathing suit for their trip. The falls feed into a shallow swimming hole people of all ages will find exciting. Be aware, however, that no lifeguards are on duty and visitors are advised to swim at their own risk.
Address: Pisgah Forest, Brevard, NC 28712Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Easy
4. Wintergreen Falls
The Wintergreen Falls are best viewed during the winter months when the water has frozen to a standstill. With a lower velocity and shorter waterfall, the rushing water nature of the rock features makes for a breathtaking sight when it's cold outside.
The hike required to get to these waterfalls provides phenomenal scenery on your way up the trail. You'll take in quite a bit of nature hiking the 10.7-mile trail. It is roughly a 4 hour out-and-back round trip.
This waterfall is the first on our list with a serious commitment you need to make to get there. It is one of the harder-to-reach waterfalls, as it requires a lengthy and, at times, challenging hike.
Nearly anyone with the commitment could likely make the journey. However, it is cautioned that some physical exertion is required to get there.
Address: 3045 Sky Valley Rd, Hendersonville, NC 28739Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Difficult
5. High Falls, DuPont State Forest
High Falls are some of the biggest waterfalls you'll find in the Greenville area. Water rushes down 120 feet of inclined granite.
This produces a characteristic roaring and rushing sound. A covered bridge crosses upriver from the falls before the water reaches the incline.
High Falls is one of the prized jewels of the DuPont State Forest. The waterfall is found by hiking down one of the forest trails.
Visitors can make a day out of a trip to the park or camp in the nearby campground. There are a variety of sights and sounds in DuPont State Forest that may be of interest.
Address: DuPont State Forest, Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Moderate
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6. Elk River Falls
A 50-foot cascading waterfall, the Elk River Falls drops into a shallow pool where you can swim and enjoy the scenery. At the far end of the pool is a long, flat rock, popular with people picnicking and swimmers.
The falls are easy to get to, just about a mile and a half from NC Highway 194. A small parking area is maintained by the National Forest Service.
These falls are known to be a bit dangerous, so a few safety precautions should be kept in mind. The shallow pool popular with swimmers has areas where you can access underneath the falls or underneath certain rocks.
They are very dangerous, and getting caught or swimming too far can result in injury or death. There are also posted warnings about diving from the rock cliff, as the water is very shallow and the drop very steep.
These falls are easy to access. It does require a short five-minute hike down an easy trail, so be prepared for a little bit of walking. There are also numerous small towns and villages with shopping and dining options to turn your visit into a day trip.
Address: Pisgah National Forest, Elk Park, NC 28622Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Easy
7. Log Hollow Falls
Another set of falls that are actually in North Carolina, the Log Hollow Halls is serene and picturesque. These falls are the perfect day trip any time of year, but best in the fall when the nearby foliage begins to turn.
There are plenty of unique bird species nearby to watch. There is also ample campground space nearby. The trail is one of many that begin in the area, so it's easy to find other treasures hidden in the woods while you're visiting the falls.
A short but rewarding hike is required to visit the falls. It is a 2.5-mile out-and-back trail that begins near Brevard, North Carolina. The hike isn't too difficult but can be a bit taxing if you don't routinely engage in physical activity.
Once you get to the end of the trail, you are rewarded with stunning views of a narrow 40-foot waterfall piercing its way through the tree line.
The area is also teeming with wildlife, so take your time and enjoy all you can. There is no fee for admission, these falls are free to the public any time of the year.
Address: 225 Eden Hollow Ln, Weddington, NC 28104Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Moderate
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8. Sliding Rock
The US Department of Agriculture describes Sliding Rock as a 60-foot natural water slide that ends in an 8-foot deep pool of water, with two observation platforms.
The Sliding Rock is a natural feature turned attraction and is a popular way to cool down for locals and tourists alike.
The area is operated privately, and lifeguards are present every day during the peak months of May through September. Personal floatation devices are available for rent but not required for guests while they visit.
The cost of admission is low but can add up quickly for a family. Alcohol and picnicking are both strictly prohibited on the grounds.
The Sliding Rock Falls is a bit of a hike outside of Greenville and can be tricky to find on a map. Once you're there, however, the falls are easy to get to with minimal effort.
Pack a lunch and turn your visit into a day trip. You’ll likely be pretty far from wherever you're staying when visiting these falls.
Address: Pisgah Hwy, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768Cost Of Admission: $5 per person per dayDifficulty To Access: Easy
9. Crabtree Falls
Crabtree Falls is absolutely stunning during fall months when the leaves are able to accent and highlight their natural beauty. Beautiful pink crab trees and an array of wildflowers dot the landscape surrounding the waterfall.
A short hike is required to access the falls. There are two trails to choose from, one a bit more difficult than the other, but it rewards your effort with additional scenic views.
The lower trail loops hikers down through the woods, an enjoyable experience as well. Take one in and one out to truly appreciate the beauty of the area.
There are plenty of camping and hiking options around the area, known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. A nearby amphitheater puts on shows and live musical acts. Plan ahead to take advantage of all the area has to offer during your trip.
Address: 4047 Crabtree Rd, Spruce Pine, NC 28777Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Moderate
10. Triple Falls
Triple Falls are part of the DuPont State Recreational Forest in Transylvania County, North Carolina. The falls get their name from the three distinct cascades totaling roughly 120 feet in vertical drop.
The falls have been featured in movies and TV shows, including the movie Last of the Mohicans. The falls are 7 to 10 minutes away from the parking lot, a short walk down a manicured path.
From the Triple Falls, find easy trail access to the rest of the park and the various other features and amenities the park has to offer. Check the trail reports online to be sure your trip won't be derailed by weather or maintenance.
The visitor's center in the parking area has plenty of information on the other waterfalls you can see in the area. If visiting Triple Falls, be sure to look around other parts of the park while you're there.
Address: 1400 Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Easy
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11. Stone Mountain Falls
The Stone Mountain Falls are part of the Stone Mountain State Park system. At a whopping 200 feet, this is easily the tallest waterfall in the park and one of the most interesting falls in the region.
The water makes its way down the rock face at a much slower rate than other falls on this list. This makes the falls a much more relaxing visit, without the rushing noise of high velocity falls.
There is a shallow pool at the bottom of the falls, as well as wooden stairs nearby that make climbing from top to bottom much easier.
These falls can be quite dangerous, especially at the top, where the drop is deceiving and difficult to see from certain angles.
These are easy falls to access in comparison to many others. There is more than one option for parking, however, so do a little research to make sure you're taking the trail you want. Guests should keep in mind that some of them are more difficult than others.
Address: Stone Mountain State Park, 3042 Frank Parkway, Roaring Gap, NC 28668Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Low
12. Second Falls
Another waterfall found in the Blue Ridge Parkway region; is a must-see. A popular waterfall, this one tops out at roughly 70 feet.
A short hike is needed from a parking area off the side of the road. The hike can be a little bit tricky but not particularly taxing.
This waterfall is visually stunning. The water cascades down several lips and ledges as it makes its way down the drop. Bring your swimsuit – the crisp and clear water in the bottom pool is perfect for cooling off.
These falls are popular, so it can be busy during warmer months. Plan ahead and come early, if possible. The trail is easy to navigate, making it relatively accessible.
Address: Second Falls, East Fork, NC 28716Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Low
13. Upper Falls
The Upper Falls, or the Upper Whitewater Falls, to be more precise, is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. This waterfall drops an amazing 411 feet.
Come during the fall season to enjoy the breathtaking visual of the impressive falls highlighted by stunning foliage. A short hike is required to reach the falls, but nothing too challenging.
There is a small admission fee, charged based on the number of passengers in the vehicle. Annual passes and season permits are available and cover a number of different attractions and locations in the area.
Address: 6118 Windsong Ln, Newland, NC 28657Cost Of Admission: $3 per vehicle (less than 7 passengers), passes and permits availableDifficulty To Access: Easy
14. Catawba Falls
These falls are near Asheville, North Carolina, and flow from the Catawba River. Numerous cascades follow the river flow before reaching the major feature.
If you are up to the challenge, a more strenuous hiking trail will take you up river to the upper falls. This area can be dangerous if you are not an experienced hiker and climber, however.
A well-maintained trail with footbridges and manicured areas makes the trail system truly enjoyable. Take your time walking through, as plenty of history can be found.
The area is maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. New trails are being added, and updates are being made right now, so check with the website before heading out.
It is worth noting that this area does not have many accommodations for camping or mountain biking. This should be kept in mind before visiting if those activities are included in your travel plans.
Address: 3074 Catawba River Rd, Old Fort, NC 28762Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Moderate
15. Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls is an 80 to 100 foot free falling waterfall on Cox Camp Creek. The water flows over a sharp cliff edge and falls unimpeded nearly all the way to the bottom of the cliff face.
The falls are located within the Jones Gap State Park. A roughly 2.5-mile hike is needed to reach the falls, with over 1200' in elevation gains during the hike.
This makes it a pretty strenuous journey and could be turned into a day-long hike with a packed lunch. Enjoy the wildlife and scenery on the way up the trail. There is plenty to see during your hike.
Once you get to the falls, be sure to explore around the waterfall itself. There are various ways to make it up the side and top of the water feature to get a better view or photo op.
Address: 976 Grassy Ridge Rd, Sapphire, NC 28774Cost Of Admission: FreeDifficulty To Access: Difficult