Top 5 Waterfalls Within 1.5 Hours

by Kristina Riehle
If you want impressive scenery, take in one of these waterfalls! All located within 1.5 hours of Winston, each waterfall has been selected for its sheer beauty and relative ease of accessibility. Enjoy the beauty and power of nature!

1.) Lower Cascades

Hanging Rock State Park

The Lower Cascades is the most spectacular waterfall Hanging Rock has to offer. Compared to the others, it has a decently heavy flow all year round. The trail is relatively short leading up to it, you’ll traverse a forest path before descending down somewhat steep steps to the base of the falls. Here you’ll find the impressive 35 foot Lower Cascades which drops into a pool of water that you can take a dip in if you’re feeling up to it. It’s also surrounded by beautiful rock formations, making it a picturesque and serene spot.

2.) Fall Creek Falls

Mayo River State Park 

Fall Creek Falls, which is located in an outlying section of the park near the state line, is an 18 foot waterfall with plenty of water flow. Just recently becoming part of the park, you won’t find much about this beautiful waterfall, but it is one that is worth the trip. The trail that accompanies it is also delightful if you’re looking for a nice hike, and you can take a dip in the pool at the base of the falls, too. To get here you’ll need to navigate to the Deshazo Mill Access; after  parking in the gravel lot, the trailhead leads down an easy and beautiful path to the falls. 

3.) Stone Mountain Falls

Stone Mountain State Park 

This astounding 200 foot waterfall can’t be missed when it’s this close to Winston-Salem. The waterfall is reachable via a massive set of wooden stairs, it’s not a strenuous hike, but be aware you will break a sweat climbing back up! Once you’re there, though, you will bask in the beauty of this unique waterfall and the surrounding rocks and branches. The waterfall drops into a shallow pool of water which is fun to wade and splash around in, as well! 

4.) Upper Cascades

Hanging Rock State Park 

This gorgeous waterfall is an easy hike and a must-see! The trail begins at the west end of the visitor center parking lot and immediately crosses Hanging Rock Park Road. The trail starts out asphalt and turns to gravel, with a wide, gently sloping path leading downhill to a wooden observation deck with seating where you can safely view the falls. Feeling adventurous? A set of wooden stairs takes hikers to a shallow catch-pool at the base of the waterfall, and you can go out onto the rocks if you’d like! Be sure to exercise caution as it can be slippery.

5.) Cascade Falls

E.B. Jeffress Park, Blue Ridge Parkway 

Last but not least, you’ll want to check this beauty out. Coming in just a little under an hour and a half drive, you won’t be disappointed you made the journey. It’s a fairly easy 1.2 mile hike, although there are lots of steps, to two different overlooks. The trail only leads to midpoint of the nearly 150 foot falls, but it is still amazing. In addition, you’ll find interpretive plaques along the trail providing a wealth of information about the ecological diversity you’ll see during your visit. 

Kristina Riehle is a photographer, content creator and hiking enthusiast based out of Winston-Salem, NC. Kristina works to capture images and stories that inspire others to get outside and explore. Follow her work @k.riehleadventures on Instagram.


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