By Rachel Fishman – 2014
When you’re driving along the winding roads of Highway 64, nestled between the lush trees of the mountains, it is easy to expect beauty around every corner. From breathtaking panoramas of treetops so vast that they seem to be never-ending broccoli crowns, to narrow canopied roads that only emit stripes of sunshine intermittently, the scenery never disappoints. It would seem easy to become blind to the beauty a couple hours into a trip, but the mountain region of Highway 64 never gets old. Every so often, however, you round the corner and are struck by a site so majestic that it momentarily makes the rest of the scenery seem (somewhat) more ordinary.
You’ll experience one of these unbelievable moments when you’re driving between Franklin and Highlands. The cascading waterfall of Bridal Veil Falls reveals itself to the passerby around a corner much like any other. Spouting out a large stream of water that falls over an arched section of the road, this approximately 50-foot-high waterfall provides a respite for drivers from the windy turns down the mountain. You just have to pull off to one side of the arch, park your car, and step out into the sprinkling beauty. You can walk all the way around the arch, behind the fall, and let yourself be misted and refreshed.
The walking path you’ll enjoy behind the waterfall used to be part of Highway 64 itself. This route required drivers to slow down before hitting the falls and cautiously drive behind them. The difficulty and danger that ensued diminished the outlook of the falls as a beautiful piece of scenery. During the winters, the snow and ice caused the falls to freeze over, which you could imagine would be a huge safety hazard. In Franklin, the Gem & Mineral Shop workers won’t hesitate to warn you that a lot of people have unfortunately fallen off the cliff around that area before the highway was reconstructed.
Bridal Veil Falls is one of the few places that you feel as if you’re among tourists in this mountain region of North Carolina, but not in a bad way. Cars are constantly pulling over, spilling out individuals, couples, families, and groups of friends with cameras at the ready. From newlyweds taking a pit stop along a honeymoon mountain trip, to vacationing families stopping off to let their kids traipse through the water, Bridal Veil Falls is an enjoyable attraction for everyone.
If this part of Highway 64 is not on your itinerary, it is worth taking a detour just to see Bridal Veil Falls. And while you’re at it, stop for half a day in Franklin to wander around the shops and eat some of the delicious food the downtown has to offer. Or, stop in Highlands for a nice meal at one of the local restaurants or inns. The vistas in this part of the mountain region will certainly make the drive to Bridal Veil Falls almost as enjoyable as the destination.