• Roger W. Downes

Four Must See Route 215 Waterfalls...

Travel south of Canton, North Carolina on Route 215 to find these four waterfalls...

Little Bird Falls - Roger W. Downes Photography

Western North Carolina is home to hundreds of beautiful waterfalls but not all of them are easily accessible for the average family on a weekend trip into the Blue Ridge Mountains. Some are a very rigorous journey that include rock climbing or several mile hikes along mountainous terrain.

That is why Route 215 south of Canton, North Carolina is perfect for a family of mild adventures looking to play in cool mountain waters. The 18-mile southern drive out of Canton along 215 will take you through majestic valleys, past the calming waters of Lake Logan which lap against her forested banks to your first destination of Little Bird Falls.

To reach her you will need to use your GPS as there isn’t any signage along the roadway to mark her location. To add to the confusion, Little Bird is just deep enough in the forest that the foliage conceals her from site off the road until late fall or winter. But once you find the location simply pull off to the side of the road to enjoy an easy hike into the base of the falls which offers small pools to play in with your children and pets.

During the Spring and Summer, God’s artistry is painted around these falls is an array of greens and spectacular florals which help even the most stressed soul find peace again. Minus the occasional passing truck on 215, the cascading waters bring a sense of calm if you allow yourself to take it in.

Sunburst Falls - Roger W. Downes Photography

The second of the four waterfalls on your journey is an easy one to find. As a matter of fact you’d have to be a sleep at the wheel to miss it. Sunburst Falls cascades down directly south (or to the right) of Route 215 before flowing under the road to a long drop to a pool below. The only challenge is finding ample parking as pull offs are limited along the narrow roadway.

Once you find your spot you can explore the upper falls easily behind the guard rails or if you are a bit more athletic you can shimmy down to the pool below the road to enjoy a cool dip. Just be careful as you crawl down the slope as it can be slick.

The third, and most difficult waterfall to reach on your four falls tour is Bubbling Spring Falls. However, it is one of the most magical waterfalls offering multiple pools to play in just below each cascade. The challenge is reaching the falls from Route 215 because the trail, which leads you down under the guard rail (watch your head), from the parking area is steep. It isn’t impossible to traverse but if you are not into climbing this may not be the trail for you. The good news is that it’s a short trek to the base of the falls, so you won’t have to feel like you’re scaling down Mt. Olympus.

Bubbling Spring Falls - Roger W. Downes Photography

There is also a camping area at the base of Bubbling Spring Falls, but it fills up fast. So, if you would like to stake your spot at the falls, I would suggest you do it early in the day. Even when I visited the falls in late November there was a group of friends camped out there. They told me it was a beautiful morning to enjoy by the fire but a cold night to bare. So it is a popular destination for both the hardy and light camper at all times of the year.

Your final stop on your Route 215 Waterfall Tour will be Dill Falls south of the Blue Ridge Parkway (where I believe I saw bigfoot) on Forest Service Road 4663. The gravel road is marked along Route 215, but it still looks like a driveway onto a farm, so using GPS would be best. When you drive along 4663 watch for the brown slender sign marking the way to the falls at the hidden split in the road. Go slow and pay attention because you may not see it if you are distracted. Still using your GPS to get you there is probably the best plan.

Once you reach the parking area, and you’ll know it because that’s where the road ends, take the downward trail to the falls. It is a quick and easy hike where the falls offers several cool pools to play in once you arrive.

Dill Falls - Roger W. Downes Photography

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Please remember, keep your pets on their leashes, not everyone likes a "friendly" dog. And most importantly, please take out whatever you take in. Don't leave your bottles, dirty masks, used diapers and whatever else for someone else to have to pick up. These areas are beautiful and a chance for you to connect with nature, please don't destroy them.

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