Herrin Knob Falls, tucked away inside the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina, is a true gem and a photographer’s field day. The quaint 20′ drop offers a serene and lush setting that does not disappoint, regardless of season. Best of all is that despite being fairly quick and easy to access, chances are you’ll have this one all to yourself on almost any given visit!
Because Herrin Knob Falls is less than 0.8 miles round trip, I generally like to add this one to another adventure to help round out the trip. With other destinations like Dill Falls, Devil’s Courthouse on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the countless other waterfalls along the infamous Hwy 215 stretch, there certainly is a plethora of options to choose from!
The parking for Herrin Knob Falls is located on FS 4663, which is off of Hwy 215 about 2.5 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Note that this forest road looks more like someone’s driveway when turning off of 215, and has a gnarly pothole right on the turn. It quickly turns into a well graded dirt road as you pass through private residential properties, but during the winter months it is gated after 0.6 miles in. Remain on FS 4663 for 2.9 miles from Hwy 215 – passing by the split for the Dill Falls trailhead – and park once the road crosses over Tanasee Creek. The pullout here is fairly wide and can fit a couple cars.
A Google Map pin for the parking can be found here.
*Note that Google Maps and some others do not show the full stretch of FS 4663. GaiaGPS has this mapped correctly, and I recommend using that along with the GPS track link below when in the area.
On river left of Tanasee Creek is an overgrown, but easily distinguishable, logging grade. If you look carefully, you can see a well marked trail that begins on and follows that grade. In years past there wasn’t much of a path, but on my most recent visit in 2020 I found the trail to be reasonably defined and easy to follow. It parallels the creek moderately for about 0.25 miles before reaching and crossing the creek.
Here, the creek somewhat splits and forms a mini “island” so crossing onto river right will almost feel like two small stream crossings. Luckily, the crossing itself is easy and you can do so without getting your feet wet. Once on the river right side on Tanasee Creek, the remaining ~0.15 miles is a sidehill bushwhack through open woods. On my most recent visit, this section was marked by flagging tape and there was a faint path leading the way that wasn’t noticeable in 2019 or any other year prior that I have been. You’ll also pass a series of very photogenic and scenic cascades just before reaching Herrin Knob Falls.
Herrin Knob Falls was first discovered by waterfall legend Bernie Boyer back in 2007. What this waterfall may lack in sheer vertical height, it certainly more than makes up for in scenic setting and detail. The many rocky ledges that comprise the drop gives so much character to this rarely visited gem and will keep any photographer busy with the countless isolation opportunities. More notable is the lush green moss that seemingly swallows this waterfall entirely. As I said earlier, you simply cannot be disappointed no matter what time of the year you visit!