A very long cascading waterfall that is only 6/10’s of a mile from the road.
In the Nantahala National Forest, a little south of Bryson City, is the small community of Alarka that is host to the tall waterfall Alarka Falls. This 200+ foot waterfall is more of a series of cascades as Alarka Creek expedites its route down the mountain. It is a very beautiful waterfall to visit but very difficult to see it in its entirety as it is very long. You will see a good portion of it if you visit Alarka falls but the cascades just keep going up the mountain farther than you can see. It is also a very short walk to the base of the falls; only about a half a mile.
The trailhead to Alarka Falls is conveniently located at the end of Alarka Road which is exit 64 on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway. From the expressway, it is about 9 1/2 miles to the end of Alarka road. The last mile of the road is unpaved but it is kept in good condition. There is a large area for parking at the end of the road but just make sure you don’t block the private driveway that heads off to the left. There are no restroom facilities at Alarka Falls.
The trailhead starts at the end of the road continuing the same direction. It is a little loose at first but quickly becomes obvious as it parallels Alarka creek up to the falls. Initially the trail is very easy to follow with only a slight incline. Alarka creek will be off to your right and provides some nice soothing background noise for the walk. It isn’t long until the trail gets right up on Alarka creek and the incline picks up a bit and the trail loosens up. It becomes very rocky with some debris and it can be wet in places if the water level of the creek is high. Several small cascades will start to form on Alarka creek but you are not quite at the falls yet. If the leafs are off the trees you will likely see it in the distance. Keep pushing up creek until you reach the obvious base of Alarka Falls.
It is a very tall waterfall and video or pictures are just not going to capture the scale properly. You really need to see this one in person to really appreciate it. The base of the waterfalls remains green and lush with ferns and moss covered rocks and logs even after all of the green from the trees is long gone. Even though it isn’t a long hike to reach this waterfall so you won’t need to recover, you are still probably going to want to find a nice spot to sit back, relax, and hang out enjoying the beautiful Alarka Falls.
This is an out and back hike so hike safely back to the parking area when you have finished enjoying the falls.