Hike To Paradise Falls



1.5 miles

Route Type


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.

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Know for

Rock Climbing
Easy Parking
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole



Leave a Review

Worth it!!

This hike if perfect for those who love challenging hikes! It is very very steep but there are ropes set up to guide you down! the view at the bottom is magnificent and the pool is deep and great to swim in! I enjoyed it so much and it's probably one of my favorite hikes! simply amazing!

It was great before it was overcrowded and covered in beer cans. Before you wrote this article.

Before this article was written this place was truly special. You could be there for hours with just your buddies taking photos and swimming without anyone else showing up. Now the college kids know where it is and they bring their trash with them. They made a faster way down using an electrical extension cord......not a rope. They leave their beer cans and food wrappers everywhere and come in large groups taking over the area and ruining any photos you try to take. Go early in the morning on a weekday and pack out as much trash as you can carry.

way to ruin one of the best kept secrets in north carolina

this place is trashed now because all the college kids at wcu go there all the time now :/ honestly not worth going

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