176 – Cullasaja Falls

Accessibility – Easy or Deadly

Height: Approx 180′

Distance – Roadside or 150 feet (almost straight down)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 3

GPS Info: LAT 35.1167 LONG -83.2697

Last updated – 04-11-2017


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Cullasaja Falls is the final waterfall on this stretch of the Cullasaja River and it is by far the biggest of the bunch. Including the upper and lower sections the falls is in excess of 175 feet high. There are two options for viewing the falls. The first (the easy one) is from the roadside pullout, which doesn’t give a good view of the lower sections. The second vantage is at the bottom of a scramble path that will test your nerves and is not for everyone (actually it’s not for most). Look down from the guardrail and you;ll see that the “path” extended maybe 30-40 feet toward the river as it plunges down 150 feet over mostly boulders and broken rock. There are open rock areas and steep drops. If you take a header you’re going to get seriously busted up. It’s a toss-up whether it’ll be a rescue or a recovery if you fall.

To get to Cullasaja Falls, follow US64 West 8.8 miles from the intersection with NC106. If you’re planning on doing all of the falls on this stretch, the easiest way to do them is to pass all of the falls, turn around after passing Cullasaja Falls and work your way back upstream. The pullout for Cullasaja Falls can hold four cars but it is narrow, so exercise cation when opening your door. This section of US64 is really narrow so bear this in mind. From the pullout you can snap your shots of the upper section of the falls and call it a day. No broken bones. If you want to get an up close view, look over the guardrail from about the midpoint and you’ll see a faint path. It heads parallel to the road for a short time before plunging down the slope. You can stay to the left at first but before long a cliff face will force you to cross a wet area where a tree is lying perpendicular to the way down. Cross to the other side of the drainage and resume the plunge.

If you exercised caution you will arrive at a large tree on the bank of the river. You can shoot from either side of the tree. The view is amazing. The cliff on river right has great color. I happened to be here at higher than average flow which was also a bonus. The falls is kid-friendly as long as you and the kids stay up at the car. I had the misfortune of arriving at midday with the sun beating down on the falls so my pics leave much to be desired. Sadly I’m going to have to climb down again one day.

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The uppermost section viewed from the base – April 2017
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Mist on the rocks – April 2017
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A narrow view between the cliffs – April 2017
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The boulders at the base – April 2017
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The imposing cliff on river right – April 2017

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