The State of North Carolina is home to over 250 waterfalls and countless unnamed cascades. Thousands of waterfall seekers flood the area each year hoping to check a few more falls off their ‘to do’ list. Sunburst falls is located roadside, so if your looking for a beautiful drive up a winding mountain road, this one may be for you.
The falls are located along HWY 215 in its namesake Sunburst, NC midway between Bethel, NC and The Blue Ridge Parkway. Sunburst was the home of an old logging town in The Pisgah National Forest dating back to the 1930’s. The original town and mill were dismantled when the area was stripped of wood and moved down the valley. The original village site now sits at the bottom of Lake Logan, which you’ll pass on your drive if you visit from the north and Interstate 40.
If you choose to visit from the southerly direction via The Blue Ridge Parkway(MP 423), you’ll drive about 4 miles down the steep winding road before coming to a sharp curved bridge crossing. The parking area will be on your left and can accommodate about 3 cars. There is additional parking farther down the road. The curved historic stone arch bridge was built in 1937 and crosses over the West Fork of the Pigeon River.
The lower portion of Sunburst Falls passes directly underneath the bridge, spilling into a crystal clear pool strewn with large boulders. The area is a popular swimming hole in the summer and can be busy at times. On the other side of the bridge you can view a series of cascades that make up the upper portion of the falls. This area is inaccessible and best viewed from areas to the left and right of the bridge. If you choose to view the falls from the bridge or cross over to the other side, be cautious of cars coming down the mountain and crossing the narrow bridge.
Those of you who would like a more adventurous vantage point of the falls can cross over to the opposite side of the parking area. Here on the left side of the bridge you will find a steep washed out path leading to the base of the falls. Once you have scrambled your way to the bottom you will be treated to great views of the falls and the stone bridge above.
The area below the falls is full of large boulders, some in which people climb and jump off into the cold clear pools. A bit of rock hopping will lead you downstream where you’ll see many smaller cascades and pools.
There is a popular Sunburst swimming hole down HWY 215, several other waterfalls and another triple stone arch bridge up the road, so you may wish to make a day trip out of your visit to the area.
Other things to see in the area: Dill Falls, Wildcat Falls, Three Arch Bridge, Sam Branch Falls, Sunburst swimming hole, Bubbling Spring Branch Falls, Lake Logan.
Directions: Sunburst Falls is located off HWY 215. From The Blue Ridge Parkway, take the HWY 215 exit around Milepost 423 and head North. After 4.2 miles you will cross a bridge in a curve. You will see the upper falls to your left and a small parking area on the left immediately after the bridge. GPS coordinates: 35.338265N, -82.903358W
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.”