Glen Falls

Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina, USA

About Glen Falls

Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip (to all waterfalls)
Suggested Time: 60-75 minutes

Date first visited: 2012-10-16
Date last visited: 2012-10-16

Waterfall Latitude: 35.03094
Waterfall Longitude: -83.23875

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Glen Falls was really a series of three main waterfalls all on the same creek (Overflow Creek).

The first two big drops were probably the most photogenic of the ensemble.

Glen_Falls_016_20121016 - Glen Falls
Glen Falls

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, Glen Falls was not on a main highway.

Glen_Falls_012_20121016 - Looking up at the first of the Glen Falls
Looking up at the first of the Glen Falls

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 Glen Falls Hike

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 (see directions below).

The path meandered as it passed by a pretty nice panoramic view before veering away from it.

Glen_Falls_006_20121016 - Looking out at the colorful forest from the brink of Glen Falls
Looking out at the colorful forest from the brink of Glen Falls

Then, the trail descended in earnest towards and alongside the creek responsible for the Glen Falls ensemble.

The first main spur to the right (towards the creek) led to the top of the first waterfall.

At this vantage point, 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.

Glen_Falls_026_20121016 - Context of the second cascade of the Glen Falls ensemble with railings from the trail
Context of the second cascade of the Glen Falls ensemble with railings from the trail

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 (see photo at the top of this page).

When we had our fill of this second Glen Falls, the trail continued descending along the creek even more as it traversed an eroded section (exposing tree roots).

Glen_Falls_022_20121016 - The third waterfall of the Glen Falls ensemble and its plunge pool
The third waterfall of the Glen Falls ensemble and its plunge pool

It veered away from the creek before 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 that waterfall.

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.

Glen_Falls_025_20121016 - Looking up at the context of the steep descent between the second and third of the Glen Falls
Looking up at the context of the steep descent between the second and third of the Glen Falls

Returning to the trailhead 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 away from the car.

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.


Glen Falls resides in the Nantahala National Forest near Highlands in Macon County, North Carolina. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Glen_Falls_002_20121016 - Julie on the Glen Falls trail, which was well forested as we descended to its three waterfalls
Glen_Falls_003_20121016 - The overlook before the Glen Falls Trail started its creekside descent
Glen_Falls_007_20121016 - Looking back at the first of the Glen Falls waterfalls
Glen_Falls_009_20121016 - Another look at the first waterfall of the Glen Falls ensemble surrounded by Fall colors
Glen_Falls_014_20121016 - Direct look at the second of the Glen Falls waterfalls surrounded by beautiful Fall colors
Glen_Falls_020_20121016 - Finally making it down to the rather jumbled third waterfall of the Glen Falls ensemble

Highlands was the nearest town to Glen Falls 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.

Glen_Falls_001_20121016 - Julie walking to the end of the cul-de-sac where we parked the car to start on the Glen Falls hike
Julie walking to the end of the cul-de-sac where we parked the car to start on the Glen Falls hike

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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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

Left to right sweep of the first main falls

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

Left to right sweep of the 2nd main cascade

Slow and deliberate top down sweep of the second falls

Left to right sweep of the bottommost tier

Tagged with: nantahala, national forest, macon county, highlands, north carolina, waterfall, brevard, asheville, autumn

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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