Glen Falls

Nantahala National Forest / Macon County, North Carolina, USA

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 2
The middle tier of Glen Falls


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Glen Falls was really a series of three main waterfalls all on the same creek. The first two big drops were probably the most photogenic. There was also a third drop, but it's debatable whether that one was worth the effort.

I'm sure if there was an imaginary viewing point looking down at this falls from its front, it would've been quite an impressive display of a three-tiered cascade dropping 70ft, 60ft, and 15ft, respectively. Instead, we pretty much treated this excursion like it was three separate waterfalls with a very nice view from the top of the first waterfall.

Unlike its neighbors Bridal Veil Falls and Dry Falls, this was not on a main highway so it certainly wasn't anywhere near as busy though it did get quite a bit of foot (and paw) traffic nonetheless. During our visit, we were greeted by the sounds of barking from several territorial dogs yelping at one another. Therefore, I'd imagine this must be pretty popular place for locals to bring their pets.

The second cascade The trail began at the end of a sort of cul-de-sac where people parked on the shoulders just off the flow of traffic. The path meandered as it passed by a pretty nice panoramic view before veering away from it and descending in earnest towards and alongside the creek responsible for the waterfalls.

The first main spur to the right (towards the creek) led to the top of the first waterfall, where we enjoyed a nice view of the falls dropping into the shadowy gorge below while it was surrounded by pretty trees with Fall colors against the afternoon sun.

Back at the main trail, it continued to descend and switchback away from the creek then back towards it. When it got close to the creek again, there were some wooden guard railings where we got to see angled views of the first waterfall. There was quite a bit of foliage preventing us from getting totally clean looks, but we did get to see the whole first drop from here nonetheless.

The trail then continued descending along more switchbacks within earshot of the creek eventually reaching another area with wooden guard rails. This was where we got pretty nice and open views of the second cascade, which we thought was the prettiest of the three.

The third waterfall and pool When we had our fill of this one, the trail continued descending along the creek even more as it traversed an eroded part of the trail (exposing tree roots) before veering away from the creek then reaching what appeared to be a junction. Turning right at the junction (not sure where going left would've taken us), we returned to the creek where there was a wide pool and a distant view of the third and smallest of the Glen Falls.

We didn't feel like getting our boots drenched so we didn't wade into the pool for a closer and more direct look at the falls. There were also lots of fallen trees jumbled up at its base making this 15ft waterfall appear even smaller than it really was.

Even though this last tier was on the disappointing side, I'd imagine it might be an inviting place for a soak or swim on a hot Summer's day.

Returning to the car park meant it was an all uphill climb (as this was an upside down hike). My trip logs indicated that we spent a little over an hour here. I believe the round trip distance covering all three waterfalls was on the order of 2 miles (possibly less). However, if you wanted to save the trouble of going down to the third waterfall, it might be as little as a mile round trip or so.

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The top tier of Glen FallsThe top tier of Glen Falls
Gorgeous view over the top of the Glen FallsGorgeous view over the top of the Glen Falls
The overlook before the trail started its creekside descentThe overlook before the trail started its creekside descent

Another look at the first waterfallAnother look at the first waterfall

Another look at the second waterfallAnother look at the second waterfall

An eroded part of the trail exposing tree roots just past the second waterfallAn eroded part of the trail exposing tree roots just past the second waterfall

Another look at the third waterfallAnother look at the third waterfall

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Right to left sweep following the stream over to the top of the falls as it ended up showing lovely colors as well as the scenery beyond

Right to left sweep after panning from top to the base (of the first waterfall) and then following the water downstream

Slow and deliberate top down sweep of the second falls

Left to right sweep of the bottommost tier

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Highlands was the nearest town to this waterfall so we'll describe the driving directions from there. So from the Hwy 64/106 junction in the town of Highlands, we headed southwest on Hwy 106 for just under 2 miles. We kept an eye out for a signposted turnoff for Glen Falls, which was on Glen Falls Rd on the left. When turning left, we were very careful as we had to turn left directly in front of a blind turn for folks coming in the other direction on Hwy 106.

Just as we turned left to get off the highway, we immediately had to take the fork on the right to continue on the unpaved Glen Falls Rd. We followed this road for a little over a mile to its dead-end where we managed to find parallel parking space along the shoulder of the cul-de-sac.

Finally, for some context, Highlands was about 38 miles (roughly an hour drive) west of Brevard on Hwy 64. Brevard was 35 miles (under an hour drive) south of Asheville, 47 miles (90 minutes drive) northwest of Greenville, South Carolina, and 126 miles (2.5 hours drive) west of Charlotte.

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For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.

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For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.

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