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U.S. Forest Service

Southern Region Viewing Area


Sweet wakerobin. Sweet wakerobin (Trillium vaseyi). Photo by Gary Kauffman.

rue anemone. Rue anemone (Anemonella thalictroides). Photo by Gary Kauffman.

Whitewater Falls

Forest: Nantahala National Forest

District: Highlands Ranger District

Description: Whitewater Falls is accessed by way of a steep, 1.0 mile trail through a cove forest, beginning at the overlook for the falls, and descending to a bridge crossing the Whitewater River. The trail continues down the river, where it connects with the Foothills Trail, and a parking area near Lake Jocassee. The walk from the bridge back to the overlook, however, is very steep, with a large number of wooden steps. Although steep, the trail is among the best the in area for wildflowers, especially near the river. Common wildflowers include Vasey’s trillium, Catesby’s trillium, trailing arbutus, mayapple, sweet white violet, round-leaf yellow violet, doll’s eye, yellow mandarin, showy orchid, robin’s-plantain, rue anemone, and Clinton’s lily. Best time to enjoy: early to mid April.

Safety First: The Nantahala National Forest receives high recreational use throughout the summer, and traffic along the forest roads can be heavy, especially near developed facilities. Weather in the southern Appalachians is generally mild but wet, with abundant rainfall throughout the year. Higher elevations, however, can experience cold, wet weather at any time during the year. As a result, adequate rain gear and warm clothes are recommended, even during the summer. In addition, trails in the region are often rocky, and require supportive shoes and sure footing.

Although the area contains abundant streams, all surface water should be treated before drinking or cooking. Carry and drink plenty of fluids, and use sunscreen on exposed skin, especially at higher elevations. Biting insects are generally not a problem. Mosquitoes and ticks are present, but usually not a nuisance. Both mosquito and tick bites can transmit diseases, however, and appropriate measures, such as long clothing and repellants, should be used. Gnats are ubiquitous during the growing season, and often become a nuisance, due to both their numbers as well as their persistence. Wildlife encounters with large animals such as black bears and wild boar are unusual but potentially very dangerous. Please take necessary precautions while hiking outdoors.

Directions: From Cashiers, North Carolina, take State Highway 107 south into South Carolina. Turn left on Wiggington Road (State Route 37-413), and drive 2.0 miles to a stop sign. Turn left onto State Route 130, which becomes North Carolina State Route 281. Just beyond the state line, turn right into the parking area for the overlook. The parking area contains picnic tables, grills, and modern restrooms; fee site.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Nantahala National Forest, Highlands Ranger District.

Closest Town: Cashiers, North Carolina.