There are a lot of great reasons to visit Asheville, North Carolina. But two reasons stick out to me in particular.
First off there's an excess of excellent craft breweries in the area. Some of my favorite beer from this area can be found at Wicked Weed Brewery which is conveniently located in downtown Asheville.
But the other primary reason people flock to this region is for the great hiking trails that can be found scattered throughout the nearby mountains.
And when hiking, who doesn't love a hike that involves seeing a waterfall?!
In this post I'll go over everything you should know when visiting one of the best hiking spots in this region, Catawba Falls!
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What to expect hiking Catawba Falls
The first thing to keep in mind about hiking around Asheville is that the popular hikes aren't located in one central area.
Think about the spokes of a bicycle wheel, with Asheville in the center and different hikes at the end of the spokes. Catawba Falls is located about 30 minutes east from downtown Asheville.
Given the layout of this area you'll often need to drive 30 - 60 minutes between hikes if you plan to do more than one in an afternoon.
When I visited we arrived to the trailhead around 11am on a perfect March Saturday morning.
We didn't have any issues finding a parking space. Even though the trail was crowded, the parking lot was large enough to handle the volume of visitors this trail sees.
How long is the Catawba Falls hike
The out and back trail itself is 1.2 miles (1.93 km) each way or 2.4 miles total (3.86 km). Near the trailhead you'll find a picnic table, restroom and various park information signs.
The hike itself is beautiful with dense trees and foliage every step of the way. You'll cross two foot bridges and an old dam along the way as well.
Along the way the trail will hug along the Catawba River (which is more like a large creek than a river).
The dense trees would probably provide decent sun coverage during part of the year, but the trees were mostly bare in late March so we had sun the entire way.
There's a slight incline to the trail the entire way out to the waterfall. The dirt path is relatively well maintained but was muddy in a few places.
You'll encounter a small creek crossing at one point where you'll need to step across about a half dozen stones to reach the other side. I highlight this more for people hiking with children, strollers or small dogs who will need to get them across.
If you keep your eyes peeled you'll notice a handful of paths branching off from the main trail that go down to the Catawba River (again, more like a large creek). This is a great way to pull off and take in the peaceful atmosphere this area offers!
After about 30 minutes of hiking you should start to hear the falls.
As we got closer I was pleasantly surprised with how large they were!
There is a path that leads up the side of Catawba Falls which allows you to get a much closer look. You have to scramble up some rocks but it's nothing difficult or scary if you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty.
Near the bottom there's a fairly large grouping of rocks in the water that are easily accessible. These rocks make for the perfect place to sit back and reap the rewards of your hike out to the falls!
Overall I really enjoyed the hike out to Catawba Falls. There's plenty of greenery along the way with a great payoff at the end.
This is certainly one I'd like to do again next time I'm in the Asheville area!
Other things to know about Catawba Falls
Still looking for more information?
Below I'll call out some frequently asked questions and useful things to know about Catawba Falls.
Is Catawba Falls dog friendly?
Yes! Catawba falls is pet friendly. In fact, it's a great trail to take your dog out on.
The dirt trail is well kept and wide enough to handle the amount of traffic this area sees. Just be mindful that you'll probably encounter quite a few other dogs along the way.
Are there restrooms at Catawba Falls?
There is a restroom located between the parking lot and trailhead starting point.
Is there a fee to hike Catawba Falls?
There is not a fee to visit Catawba Falls. You do not need a park pass, permit, or reservation.
Does Catawba Falls get crowded?
This is a popular hike with locals and tourists so you should expect it to be crowded. Keep this in mind on weekends and particularly nice days.
Not only will the trail be crowded with people, but dogs as well. If your pet doesn't play well with others you might want to consider leaving it behind for this hike.
How tall is the Catawba Falls waterfall?
The waterfall is approximately 100 feet or 30 meters tall. There's a path that goes partially up the side that allows for a closer look than the rocky area near the bottom.
Where is Catawba Falls located?
The trailhead is located approximately 30 minutes east of downtown Asheville.
How long does this hike take
I would budget 25 - 45 minutes of hiking in each direction plus however long you plan to spend hanging out at the falls.
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