Waterfalls on NC281 South

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White Owl Falls – September 2015

NC281 is broken into two segments with the divider being US64. NC281 North splits off of US64 0.6 miles to the east of Toxaway Falls while the turn onto NC281 South is 2.3 miles west of Toxaway Falls. The intervening 2.9 miles NC281 and US64 run together. The stretch of NC281 South is home to numerous waterfalls as well as providing access to Gorges State Park. Several of my favorite falls are along this stretch of rural highway. White Owl Falls and D.E.W. Falls are both great waterfalls that require only a short hike. Brewer Rd, the access point for the various falls on the Thompson River is also along this stretch. NC281 ends at the South Carolina state line where it becomes SC130. Not far from the border, SC130 leads to Duke Energy’s Bad Creek Plant and access to Lower Whitewater Falls. After badcreek SC130 heads into the SC Upstate. All mileages given are measured from the turn onto NC281S from the intersection with US64. They may be off by a tenth of a mile so slow down in advance since making u-turns on many of these rural highways isn’t easy.


0.9 Miles

Gorges State Park (Grassy Ridge Road)


3.6 Miles

Brewer Rd

158 – Big Falls (Thompson River)

159 – Standing Stone Falls

160 – Rich Falls

161 – Simon’s Falls

164 – High Falls (Thompson River)

165 – Reid Branch Falls


3.7 Miles

026 – White Owl Falls


4.9 Miles

119 – John’s Jump Falls

122 – D.E.W. Falls

123 – Slippery Witch Falls


9.0 Miles

025 – Whitewater Falls


9.5 Miles (SC130)

116 – Lower Whitewater Falls