At 411 ft, Whitewater Falls is the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. As you explore all that western North Carolina has to offer, be sure to add this one to your list. Located about 9 miles south of Hwy 64 on Hwy 281, and just across the state line into North Carolina, Whitewater Falls is easily accessible through the National Forest parking area. Ample parking is available and public restrooms are also available.
There is a really cool giant boulder that our kids like to play on. It makes an awesome spot to take some candid photos.
After you park, head down the paved trail 1/2 mile to the first observation area. Be sure to look to your right and catch the majestic views of the mountains and Lake Jocassee in the distance depending on the clarity of the day and time of year. From this observation area, you can see the upper portion of Whitewater Falls.
Next, head down the recently renovated staircase to the lower observation deck. The Whitewater Falls viewing area was reopened in June 2017 after being closed for nearly a year after an arsonist burned the entire wooden staircase and observation decks.
Once you take in the view from the lower observation deck, there is a trail to take you down to the river. Take the short staircase and trail down to explore and perhaps take a swim in the river. There are lots of big rocks to climb on but be careful- they can be very slippery. The trail continues from here through many switchbacks as it descends down the mountain. The trail is pretty steep in places and can be rather challenging. Be particularly careful on wet days as it can be very slippery. Continuing on down the trail will take you to the base of the falls. When you cross the metal bridge, stay to the left at the fork. If you go to the right, you will take the foothills trail down river to the base of Corbin Creek Falls and into South Carolina. From what we read, this trail is rather challenging and hard to follow.