Height: 15 foot cascade followed by a 27 foot free fall
Trail Type: Gravel and dirt
Hike Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
Window Falls is one of my favorite places in North Carolina only because of the geologic setting. The actual waterfall isn’t that impressive, and it probably isn’t even worth seeing if the water levels are down. Although the 27 foot free fall is the main portion of the falls, it’s the portion above the free fall that is so wonderful (the 15 foot cascade above it isn’t even listed on park maps).
You’ll have to work to get it, but above Window Falls is a narrow canyon carved out by the creek. On your left is a rock wall about 10 feet high. On your right is an even taller rock wall with a circular hole carved out (done naturally by all indications) that, on a sunny day, is illuminated in all sorts of blues and oranges. It is a photographer’s paradise.
The trailhead is at the opposite end of the parking lot from the Upper Cascades trail. Additionally, the Hanging Rock trail begins a few yards away.
The trail starts out as gravel and is pretty wide for the first few hundred yards. There are several picnic spots here, and if you go when the leaves are off the trees, you’ll have a view of Hanging Rock in the distance. The entirety of the trail descends pretty gradually.
You’ll have a set of steps to go down to the base of Window Falls, but it can also be pretty confusing as to which way to go. If you go right (and you want to go right), you’ll do a little rock hopping along the rock face before climbing a little bit over the edge to drop yourself into the canyon to view the smaller falls. If you have any physical ability whatsoever, this is doable. I did it by myself, so if you have someone with you, it shouldn’t be difficult at all. Once you’ve seen the upper portion, you can go back from where you came (or if you’re younger, make about an 8 foot jump/slide down the rock to rejoin the main trail) to view the lower portion.