Otter Falls is an absolute treasure of a waterfall that located in a beautiful section of the forest.
What do you get when a beautiful natural feature is located inside a small mountain town? A town that wants to share this gem with the world! The stunning Otter Falls in the charming mountain town of Seven Devils North Carolina isn’t too high a waterfall but the falls and surrounding forest are exceptionally beautiful. The short 6/10’s of a mile trail to the falls is very well maintained and easy to follow. The trail actually forms a figure-eight over the 10 acre site with numerous benches and views to be enjoyed. While the trail is marked onsite as strenuous, we felt that it was more of a moderate hike.
Otter Falls is located at 825 Skyland Drive in Seven Devils North Carolina. It is well marked from the road and easy to spot as you travel up Skyland drive. It is about 5 minutes off highway 105; not really too far from any of the neighboring mountain towns like Boone, Banner Elk, or Blowing Rock. The parking area is nicely paved has 5 marked parking spots and includes a beautiful informative map of all of the trails at the trailhead. For your planning purposes, please note there are no restroom facilities onsite.
The trailhead is located in the corner of the parking lot to the left of the informative signboard. Be sure to snap a picture of the sign board with your phone if you don’t already have a copy for use and reference as you head out to see the Falls.
The trails at Otter Falls are essentially two loops with a few spurs leading off to various benches and views; none of which are very long. The quickest way to the falls would be to stay right all the way down until you reach the falls. This is only about 6/10’s of a mile to the falls and is a very pleasant walk. The trails are also color coded and marked very well; the upper loop is red and the lower loop is marked in blue. At the bottom of the blue loop are the short orange and yellow trails and it is the orange trail that takes you to the falls. You could hike in and out using the same trail or make it a loop if you want to spend some more time walking on the trail just being out and enjoying nature. We made it a loop and explored all of the different views described next.
First, starting from the parking lot at the top of the red loop, head down into the forest staying right when you pass the return part of the trail. In a short distance you encounter the blue loop where 4 paths intersect. Keep to the right heading downhill on the blue trail. There is a small spur that leads to a quaint bench with a view that was somewhat limited by all of the trees. This would probably be better in the Winter when all of the leaves are off the trees.
Quickly you reach the bottom of the blue loop and another junction of 4 trails. The Yellow trail is another short trail that leads to a view and a bench that would probably be better in the Winter although if you wanted a quiet spot in the forest to relax at, this would probably be a good spot to visit. The orange trail is also very short and takes you down to the falls. Since the entire hike to the falls is only 6/10’s of a mile, it really isn’t very far on any of these trails.
As you descend the hill on the orange trail, you will hear Otter Falls in the background and quickly see it as the trail leads to an open area on the side of the creek. The trail forks in a few directions providing you with different options for viewing the falls. The best spot is on the large and obvious wooden viewing platform. If you head right and cross the small footbridges there will be a small trail that takes you to the stairs at the top of the platform. There is also a small trail that leads to the top of the falls as well as a trail that leads further downstream. Wherever you decide to view Otter Falls, you are going to love this special spot in the forest. Otter Falls is a real gem and you can easily see why Seven Devils takes pride in this beautiful spot within their community and welcomes you visit and enjoy the trail.
When you have finished enjoying Otter Falls and you’re ready to head back to your car, you can stay left on the trail to take the short route back or make it a loop to add a little more distance to the hike. For the loop, take the blue path to the right when you reach the top of the orange trail. This trail will switch back a few times up the hill and back around to the 4 way intersection with the red trail. Stay right on the uphill section of the red trail to loop back around to the parking area.
Otter Falls is a wonderful spot and we hope you enjoy your visit as much as we did!