Falls on the Nantahala River


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The Nantahala River is probably best known for its great whitewater rafting and flyfishing. However, upstream from all the whitewater action are quite a few large cascades. A short stretch on the "Nanty" along Wayah Road that features five significant cascade stands out in particular. Past the falls, Wayah Road is a very scenic drive, taking you past Nantahala Lake which provides for the consistent whitewater action in the gorge downstream. Wayah Road also provides access to Wayah Bald and its milehigh overlook from an old stone firetower.

Fall Color along Wayah Road in the Nantahala Gorge

Fall Color on Nantahala Lake

Directions: Between Wesser and Topton, take US 19/74 to its intersection with Wayah Road. Take Wayah Road past the Forest Service put-in points for private and commercial rafters toward Franklin for 2.8 and 2.9 miles to two pullouts on the left side of the road to view cascading Camp Branch as it splashs into the Nanty. At the second pull-out, look high on the left hill to see the falls. Continue toward Franklin for another .7 mile (3.6 miles total) to the first of two pullouts on the right to view cascades on the Nanty. Go another .2 mile (3.8 miles total) for the second pullout on the right and another cascade on the Nanty. Go another .4 mile (4.2 miles total) to the intersection of Old River Road to a pullout on the right to view a unnamed, low-volume cascade on the left side of the road. Turn right onto Old River Road for a very short distance to a bridge over Whiteoak Creek for a distant view of Whiteoak Falls, the fifth cascade. You may be able to pick your way upstream for a closer view of this sluice. Back on Wayah Road, continue another .1 mile (4.3 miles total) to a pullout on the right to view Whiteoak Falls from the top.

All photos Allen Easler.