Sunburst Falls, West Fork Pigeon River

Sunburst Falls & Pigeon River Cascades

If you are driving on NC Highway 215 north of the Blue Ridge Parkway (exit at Milepost 423) on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, you will cross a bridge with a series of cascades, including a picturesque waterfall beneath the historic arched stone bridge built in 1937. After driving down the mountain ridge from the Parkway 4.2 miles, cross the bridge and see the pull-off for parking on the left. This is the West Fork of the Pigeon River, located in the Pisgah National Forest. Many call it Sunburst Falls, since it's near the Sunburst community.

The waterfall is not tall, but the cascades are beautiful and fun to get a closer look. If you are careful, you can venture out above and below the bridge. To get the photo at top, take one of the steep trails across the road from the parking area. Then rock hop across the stream. Only attempt if water is low enough for plenty of dry stepping stones.

Pigeon River Cascades

Above the bridge, sit on the boulders by the rushing cascades. It's a great picnic spot (although no room for a spread on a big blanket). Do not venture out onto the rocks if they are wet. You can slip easily. See the swirling whirlpools and enjoy the melodies of the rushing water. You can also just enjoy the view from the bridge, but watch for cars. This is not a place for wading or swimming. But you can get your toes wet.

Nearby on the Parkway is the hike to the top of Devil's Courthouse. More waterfalls on NC 215 (south of the Parkway) are Wildcat Falls, Dill Falls, Courthouse Falls, French Broad Falls and Cathedral Falls. Just 2.4 miles north on 215 is Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades.

If you continue down NC Highway 215 North for another nine miles, you will find the trailhead to the hike to the summit of the infamous Cold Mountain.

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