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Asheville’s Waterfall Road To Douglas Falls

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Just north of Asheville, NC we found one of the prettiest roads, and a photographer’s dream. Lined with several small to mid-sized waterfalls, this gorgeous forest road terminated at a short hike to Douglas Falls.

We felt the road itself was a hidden gem, as it winded its way through a thick remote area of the Big Ivy region of the Pisgah National Forest. With the exception of hunters (as it was fall), there was very little traffic. Probably as it’s a bit out of the way, but was very worth it.

Most visitors to the area don’t realize there’s actually two ways to get to Douglas Falls. The more popular way is the 3.6 mile one way hard hike from the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Craggy Gardens Visitor Center.  Or, the 1 mile round trip hike from the parking lot at the end of Dillingham Road (SR  2173). But, it’s not just the easier hike to Douglas Falls why we recommend taking this scenic road.

Douglas Falls Pinterest Image

Finding Dillingham Road To Douglas Falls

From Asheville, we headed north on I-26 and followed the GPS to Barnardsville. We met up with Dillingham Road (SR 2173) in the center of town and followed it for several miles through beautiful landscapes.

It’s probably worth mentioning, we only saw one gas station after exiting I-26, so make sure you have plenty of gas before setting off on this adventure.  

Just before we entered the national forest, this helpful sign kept us from making a wrong turn. However, after that I couldn’t stop humming Woody Guthrie’s song; it doesn’t take much to get something stuck in my head.

This is your land signage for National Forest, Big Ivy, Douglas Falls

Waterfalls Along The Road

Though the road turned to gravel as we entered the national forest, it was well maintained and easy to drive.  However, it was very windy and narrow in some parts, so do take care on the blind bends.

Dillingham Road SR2173 in Fall near Asheville, NC

As we made our way through the lush forest, we found several small waterfalls to stop at for photos. Located primarily along the bends in the road, we didn’t have any issues finding nearby pull-offs.

Small roadside waterfall on 2173, Douglas Falls near Asheville, NC

The majority of the waterfalls on the side of the road were small, but with the moss covered rocks and tranquil forest settings, they were all very picturesque.

Roadside waterfall on 2173 to Douglas Falls near Asheville, NC
Tiny roadside waterfall on 2173, Douglas Falls near Asheville, NC

Walker Falls - Largest Road Side Waterfall

Shortly before reaching the parking lot for Douglas Falls, we found my favorite of the roadside waterfalls. Quite large, and stunningly lit by the sun, we probably enjoyed Walker Falls even more than Douglas Falls itself.

Walker Falls on route 2173 to Douglas Falls near Asheville, NC

Hike To Douglas Falls

Finally, we reached the end of the road and a small parking lot. After the 8.5 miles of forest road, and no other cars in the small parking lot, we felt a world away from anyone.

The easy half-mile trail from the parking lot led us to Douglas Falls. Being a low flow waterfall, this 70-foot waterfall would be best after a decent rain.

With some careful maneuvering over the rocks, we were able to walk behind Douglas Falls. Though it’s probably one of the least exciting falls to walk behind, unlike the much more interesting Dry Falls only a couple hours away.

Closeup Portrait Douglas Falls waterfall, near Asheville, NC

Though all waterfalls are beautiful, I would have been sadly disappointed if we hiked 7 miles round trip for Douglas Falls. The easy one mile hike is about what it’s worth to see these falls.

However, what really made this trip worth it was the scenic drive along Dillingham Road. With some lovely little waterfalls, the fall colored tree canopy, and tranquility of the forest. Hands down it was a winner.

Where To Stay In Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC is famous for its brewery district, sweet little bed and breakfasts, and laid back atmosphere. It makes the perfect vacation destination.

  • For some Victorian era charm try The 1899 Wright Inn & Carriage House bed and breakfast. A little outside of town, but that makes it quiet with free parking.
  • To stay closer to the attractions and the breweries, the Kimpton Hotel offers stunning accommodation with a prime location.
  • Another popular option are holiday homes and cabins. Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds is in an amazingly convenient location, close to the city and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Plus they offer various size houses in a serene location.

Best Books On The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway releases a free seasonal travel planner. These useful books can be picked up at any visitor center, and many grocery stores have them in the free publishing racks at the store entrance.

However, if you plan on doing hiking, you’ll need something with more detail. We have the larger Falcon Guides Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway: The Ultimate Travel Guide and the smaller pocket size Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway.

Looking for more near Asheville? Check out our posts:

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We recommend and use these companies to arrange our travel plans; they make travel planning easy and affordable. If you have questions on our experiences, feel free to ask us!

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