Trash Can Falls

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One of my planned stops on this August weekend was to see Trash Can Falls while in the Boone area. Trash Can Falls is a 15 foot waterfall, and a very popular swimming hole especially with the local Appalachian State University kids. Not all of the waterfall books or sites have this one listed. I have driven right past it a number of times without even knowing it was there.

As you leave Boone on US 421/321 heading north, the first thing to look for is the split. US 321 will bear off to the left about 10 miles or so out of Boone. Take this highway. From here it is 5 1/2 miles to Trash Can Falls. Eventually you will find yourself running along the Watauga River. When you are just about there, you will cross the river just past a new riverside park. Once over the river, look for a pull out on the right, or left if coming in from Tennessee. There will be no sign indicating that this is Trash Can Falls. Pull in and make sure your vehicle is totally off the highway. At the upper end of the parking area, cross US 321 and the trail begins there. It is uphill a little bit, but very short. My total mileage on this was 0.4 miles round trip. After a few trees and turns, you will begin to see this.

A very pretty “mini-gorge” awaits you. Keep going up for the main attraction.



Trash Can Falls is also known as Laurel Creek Falls. I do not know at this point how it obtained the name Trash Can Falls, as there was certainly nothing trashy about it. There was no trash laying around, no graffiti, nothing but a very clear stream over a pretty 15′ waterfall into one of the most popular swimming holes in the area. Folks were swimming and doing a little jumping as well.


There was one fellow who got up there and was petrified to jump. Maybe he was using better judgement, as the safe landing area was not very big. I would not advise him going to nearby Elk Falls or Compression Falls if this one was a problem for him!!


  1. It’s called Trash Can Falls because there used to be a dumpster sitting in the middle of the parking area, which is the landmark that first-time swimmers would be told to look for.

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