Hike To Paradise Falls

Paradise Falls Parking Lot - Search Nearby - Added by Rob Giersch

Paradise Falls is one of the best secret swimming holes in the southeast. The short, but challenging hike helps minimize the crowds. There are deep swimming holes on top and bottom of falls with room for big air for those who dare!

To the north of Panthertown lies a chain of dammed lakes that are some of the most peaceful waters in Western North Carolina. These make up the headwaters of the East Fork of the Tuckasegee River. The gorges that run between the top lakes are wild, scenic, and adventurous to even the most experienced hiker and/or canyoneer.

Paradise Falls lies deep within the narrow and winding ravine below Wolf Creek Lake, and is a hidden treasure worth finding. The path to this magnificent oasis is difficult and not the easiest to find.

From the parking lot indicated on the map (within site of a local church) there are two ways to approach the falls. The easier route is to follow the path heading towards the rear of the church, ultimately dropping down to the river. Cross the river and continue following the path to the top of the waterfall. The more challenging path goes straight down from the back of the parking lot into the trees and rhododendron. This trail also comes to the river where you must cross, but in this case you head back up a small rise directly across the stream. Keep following the trail, and from the top of the hill you should see a long descent dropping almost straight down to the pool below Paradise Falls. Be careful here as the hill is quite steep, and after rain can be extremely slippery and treacherous. Make your way carefully down to the bottom where your reward awaits.

The Falls are actually tucked into the walls of the gorge, so you will only see a full view from directly below the base. Don't be surprised upon breaking from the trees that you feel a sudden urge to drop your clothes and dive freely into the pool in front of you. This swimming hole is hypnotic, begging you to dive beneath it's surface. The water is not warm, but in the middle of summer the plunge is a welcome reward for the hot and sweaty hike down the hill. Swim all the way up into the falls, and if you are looking for a challenge try to climb your way up onto the flat plateau below the major drop.

Explore the river and the surrounding area as it's a magnificent site. There is also a pretty well hidden geocache to find if that is your thing. The trail actually continues back up the canyon on river right to bring you up to the top of the large rock walls overlooking the swimming hole below. If you are feeling brave, there is a heart stopping cliff jump off the wall, but make sure you swim the pool and confirm the water is clear of dead logs or branches before taking your huck of glory. The trail continues around the rock to bring you to the rock plateau below the falls major drop and within the stone amphitheater where the cascading water reverberates.

The top of the falls has another, smaller, swimming hole that is safe and deep enough for diving. Take a picnic with you as you can spend a few hours exploring and swimming within this magical refuge.


1.5 Miles RT




Rock Climbing, Photography, Swimming, Hiking

Easy Parking
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Nearby Lodging

Asheville West KOA

Candler, North Carolina

Cherokee / Great Smokies KOA

Cherokee, North Carolina

Travelers Rest / N Greenville KOA

Travelers Rest, South Carolina

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Difficult and Rewarding

Hiked to Paradise falls this past week and it was indeed a beautiful unique tucked away spot but very difficult to get to. Originally took the "easier route" that takes the path heading toward the back of the church. After about a mile hike without really getting anywhere and having to climb over and under downed trees that had fallen across the path, decided it was time to head back and take the more difficult path directly behind the parking lot. This path was literally straight up and straight down. Some of the other hikers had already tied off some ropes to help with the descents and climbs but I still managed to have to be on all fours at some spots. The water was also extremely high and fast making the river crossing dangerous. Apparently they were letting down the lake above the dam which accounted for the extra water accumulation. After finally making it down to the falls and swimming hole it was a small piece of paradise in the mountains of NC. The water was still rushing and fast at the hole so unfortunately no swimming for me this time.

Definitely one of the coolest spots in NC

This place is epic. The hike is steep but quite short. The falls itself are super cool. There's a huge swimming hole in front, multiple cliff jumping spots, and you can climb around and play in the first set of falls. I honestly didn't want to leave. Definitely an adult playground!

On my top

Great swimming hole, will definitely be one of my new favorite spots. Oh, and just do the jump, you only live once.


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