As I’ve mentioned before, my hubby and I like to do several weekend trips throughout the year. Most of the time, we go to NC because my parents own a cabin there. It’s about a 4 hr drive from our house.
We usually go over a long weekend since it’s not that far from our home. The location definitely makes for a nice little getaway.
I love waking up to this view!
We always try to find different things to do each time we go. I’ll link things to do/see at the end of my post so you will have a variety of activities to choose from if you ever visit the area. There’s lots to do to keep you busy for a week if you decide to go for that long.
On this trip, we decided to spend the day chasing waterfalls in the Highlands. There is a lot to do in this area and there are tons of waterfalls and hiking trails. The Highlands are located approximately 1 hr 15 mins from Hayesville.
The Highlands is a mountain resort town along scenic drive Hwy 64. It has a year round population of less than 1,000 people based on the 2016 census.
It offers upscale restaurants, shopping and a great cultural arts scene. The “postcard” downtown offers plenty of art galleries, antique stores and upscale boutiques.
In the middle of downtown Highlands is Old Edwards Inn and Spa, a resort consisting of the historic main building, a full-service European–style spa & Madison’s Restaurant.
Click here for nearby hiking trails. Click here to check out the nearby town of Cashiers, only 20 mins from the Highlands.
Most of the waterfalls we visited are before you get to the Highlands. The first one will be, Cullasaja Falls. The 250 ft falls can be seen from the road on Hwy 64 about 9 mi West of the Highlands.
You can catch a glimpse of the falls while driving by but getting a better view of the falls is not easy. The falls are located beside a series of blind curves on U.S. 64, with sheer rock cliffs above and below the road.
There is only one small pull-off near the falls and it’s only big enough for 3 vehicles.
After we stopped, another couple pulled over and walked to the side of the railing and climbed over…apparently, there is a path that leads down to the falls. However, it looked extremely steep and dangerous and I wouldn’t recommend it.
There are no signs for this falls and I only spotted it after our 3rd trip to the Highlands. It will be on your right hand side if you are headed to the Highlands from Hayesville.
The next stop will be Bust Your Butt Falls swimming hole. It’s about 2 mil East towards the Highlands. It’s a popular swimming hole for locals and has a rope swing and a ledge that some jump from… However, I do not recommend you swim here as there have been deaths here.
It’s right on the edge of the road with easy in and out parking. There are some boulders to climb over and parts of it have very fast rushing water so be careful.
Our next stop was the 75 ft tall Dry Falls. It’s one of my favorites because you can walk behind it.
The falls are located roadside on Hwy 64 and can be viewed from a fully accessible observation area adjacent to the parking lot. It’s a short walk down the trail to reach the falls. However, there are stairs you have to climb down so it’s not wheelchair accessible.
The spray from the falls may get you a little wet when you walk behind it, so be sure to keep your camera in a safe place….But it’s usually just a little mist.
Our next stop was only about a mile down from Dry Falls…called Bridal Veil Falls. You can’t miss it as it’s right off Hwy 64. There is parking available as well.
Bridal Veil Falls is a 60 ft tall waterfall that, at one time, you could drive behind. However, due to safety concerns, the road is now blocked off. When the highway was first built, it routed all traffic behind the waterfall.
You can walk behind this small falls as well but it’s nothing like Dry Falls. When we visited there wasn’t much water flowing.
We quickly moved on as this falls wasn’t very impressive. Our next stop was Glen Falls. This falls is located in the Highlands down a 2 mi gravel road.
Glen Falls is a triple waterfall with 4 scenic stops along the 2 mi roundtrip hike. The hike makes a gradual descent with about 400 ft in elevation change. About 1/2 mi from the parking lot, you will come to an observation deck for the upper section.
Another 1/3 mi hike will bring you to the middle section..At both the middle and upper sections, there are observation decks to safely view the falls. You can continue on the trail to get to the lower section of the falls.
As you hike back to the parking area, you’ll see a side trail that forks to the left, past the upper section. That takes you to an observation deck on top of the upper section of the falls for a birdseye view of the waterfall and mountains.
We saw lots of flowers blooming on the trail.
Note: Another couple of waterfalls you may want to check out that we haven’t yet been to is Rainbow Falls. and Turtleback Falls. They’re about a 40 min drive from the Highlands in Gorges State Park.
Our next stop, which is only a few miles from the South Carolina state line was, Upper Whitewater Falls. It’s the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies falling 811 ft! The upper falls plummets 411 ft and is 60 mi from downtown Asheville.
For an excellent view of Upper Whitewater Falls, follow the paved 1/4-mile walkway to the upper overlook. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot and is accessible to wheelchairs.
Note: You will have very limited internet access in the Highlands so you may have difficulty plugging this falls into your GPS so make sure you plan ahead by printing out directions beforehand.
A lower overlook with an even better view is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps. The only full views of the waterfall are from these two overlooks. New stairs have been built after a fire destroyed them in Nov 2016.
Once down the set of stairs, you can continue down the trail to the Whitewater River and Foothills Trail. It brings you to a nice spot to swim and hang out on the big rocks.
It will be very slippery on a wet day. You can get to the base of the falls from here. Cross the metal bridge and take the path to the left towards the falls.
To the right is the Foothills Trail which will take you down the river, past the base of Corbin Creek Falls, and into South Carolina. The trail towards the falls is rather treacherous and hard to follow in places.
It was getting late so we didn’t go any further than the bridge.
We then headed back to our car to head to our next destination.
My hubby had to stop and get a picture when we crossed over into SC.
We then headed to one of our favorite little restaurants, Gibson’s Drive In. It’s not an actual drive in but you can walk up and order at the window and sit at one of the tables outside or they have indoor seating. This place has the best burgers around!
It takes a few minutes to get your order because the burgers are made to order…but believe me, it’s worth the wait!
The next day, we headed to a hiking trail that we had never hiked. I had read about it during my research and really wanted to add it to the list for this trip. It’s called, get ready for this, Pickens Nose Trail...what a name, huh?
The hike is around 1.5 mi roundtrip and takes your through a tunnel of rhododendron. It’s a fairly easy hike but you have to constantly be aware of your footing as there are lots of roots and rocks on the trail.
The trail takes you to lots of scenic overlooks.. however, you need to be careful as the overlooks drop off steeply and sharply, so use extreme caution.
Read reviews here.
The drive there is around 5 mi down a long, one way gravel road…It’s definitely worth the drive but you may, at times, think you’re lost. We were there during the fall when the leaves were just starting to change and it was really beautiful!
Walking through the rhododendron tunnel…this would be even more beautiful when the rhododendron’s are blooming.
Lookout for bears!
After we left here, we went to another place that has spectacular views, Bell Mountain. Bell Mountain is a beautiful knob offering 360 degree panoramic views of Hiawassee and Lake Chatuge.
Sadly, the rock that surrounds it, is covered in spray paint.
In 1963, 3 men decided they would mine the top of the mountain but failed miserably and left a huge gaping hole on the top of the 3400 ft knob. After the mining disaster, a local resident purchased the mountain in an effort to preserve it from further abuse.
It then became a place for locals to hike and a place for off road enthusiasts.
After the owner passed, he gifted the mountain to the county so they could create a historical site that would preserve the mountain for generations to come.
There’s a new paved road up the mountain. It’s very narrow and steep!! We were in a jeep and it was still frightening driving up to the top. I do recommend a 4WD but with that being said, we saw lots of people making the drive in cars.
Before the road was built, you had to park at the bottom of the hill and walk to the top! Definitely another one of those hikes that I would need to be airlifted out of! 😉
There’s also a new observation deck which, sadly, is already being painted on as well.
The views were spectacular!!
After leaving here, we headed back to our cabin in the woods and watched the sunset from the deck.
Other things you can do and see:
Helen – a replica of a Bavarian alpine town. Activities include hiking, waterfalls, Zip lining, River Tubing, horse drawn carriages & More . Helen is approx 45 mins from Hayesville. You can also check out Tallulah Falls, 40 mins from Helen and then head over to Toccoa Falls – 20 mins from Tallulah. Anna Ruby Falls is 15 mins from Helen, Dukes Creek Falls is 10 mins & Raven Cliff Falls is also 10 mins.
Brasstown Bald – the highest point in the state of Georgia – 45 mins from Hayesville
Boat Rentals at Lake Chatuge & Lake Hiwassee – 15 & 45 mins from Hayesville
Helton Creek Falls – 45 mins from Hayesville near Blairsville – read more reviews here.
Antiques Shops – Click Here & Here
The Dillard House Restaurant – a true southern family style restaurant – 55 mins from Hayesville
Wayah Bald Lookout Tower – An old stone fire tower built in 1937 that has panoramic views of the southern Appalachian Mountain chain (road closed Jan-Mar) – 1 hr 10 mins from Hayesville in Franklin, NC
The Chatuge Dam – Beautiful views of the lake…walking trails and picnic tables. – 10 mins from Hayesville
Fire Creek Falls – Great place to hike, have a picnic and even swim. – 15 mins from Hayesville – put Leatherwood Falls, Sweetwater, NC in your GPS
Fields of the Wood – in Murphy – a very cool Bible Park with a huge replica of the Ten Commandments on a hillside – free admission – 45 mins from Hayesville
Walnut Hollow Ranch – farm tours – 10 mins from Hayesville
Southern Tree Plantation – Cut your own Christmas tree & lots of other activities – 30 mins from Hayesville in Blairsville
Best Lil Corner Ice Cream Parlor – old soda fountain filled with antiques – serves burgers, shakes, etc – Hayesville – UPDATE: This is now closed
Hikes & Waterfalls near Hayesville, NC
Sliding Rock – 2 hrs from Hayesville – waterfall & natural slide – $3 pp
Ingles Grocery Store – the best! So nice and clean & even has a Starbucks! – Hayesville & other nearby locations
Other small towns to visit – definitely check out all the old town squares in all of the small towns close by. Hayesville has a really cute square!
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds – check out their website – there’s usually always something going on. If you go in the fall, they have a big fall festival. – 15 mins from Hayesville in Hiawassee
Massages near Hayesville
The Copper Door Restaurant – Fine dining – Hayesville
Places to eat in Hayesville, NC
Black Mountain State Park – highest mountain in GA – waterfalls (Ada-hi Falls)and hiking trails – 1 hr from Hayesville
Amicalola Falls State Park – 1.5 hrs from Hayesville in Dawsonville, GA
Mary’s Southern Grill – Our favorite place for breakfast in Hayesville
Heavenly Bake Shop – Best place for baked goods – close to Mary’s
High Shoals Falls 35 mins from Hayesville near Hiawassee, GA
Alexanders – HUGE store with clothing, shoes, furniture, jewelry, etc -25 mins from Hayesville in Blairsville
Mariolina’s Italian Restaurant – Hayesville
Boba & Froyo – for frozen yogurt w/ an assortment of toppings, hot/cold coffee, bubble tea, etc – in same shopping center as Mary’s Southern Grill
Angelos’s Downtown Pizza – on the square in Hayesville
Tip: For Chick Fil A lovers, there’s one in Blairsville which is 25 mins from Hayesville.
World’s Largest Adirondack Chair in Blairsville – 25 mins from Hayesville
Chophouse in Murphy, NC – has steak, chicken, burgers, seafood, pasta, etc – For $40 2 people can share a 14 oz steak and a lobster tail and get your own salad and side. – 20 mins from Hayesville
Enrico’s Italian Restaurant in Young Harris – 12 mins from Hayesville
Lorene’s Restaurant in Young Harris – 13 mins from Hayesville
Brother’s Restaurant in Murphy – Wings, steaks, seafood, sandwiches, chicken, etc – 22 mins from Hayesville
McCoy’s Steak & Seafood – Young Harris, GA – 10 mins from Hayesville
The Barn Country Store in Young Harris, GA – 12 mins from Hayesville- this is right beside Brother’s restaurant
Enchanted Gardens of Sleepy Hollow in Blairsville, GA – created 12 years ago by Art Millican Jr. Art is a former Disney artist/imagineer and was Senior Artist and Craftsman at Disney World Orlando for over 15 years – 20 mins from Hayesville
Read here for more quirky roadside attractions in the US
Thanks for reading! I hope this helps you plan your own trip to NC!