White Owl Falls


White Owl Falls is the perfect introduction to the Thompson River, in the far southwestern section of North Carolina. It is a beautiful waterfall and easy to get to. The Thompson River is probably the least known of the four main rivers that all make up Lake Jocasse in northern South Carolina, along with the Toxaway River, Horsepasture River and the Whitewater River. This land is waterfalls paradise. Some are easy to get to and some are not. White Owl Falls just happens to be one of the easy ones.

White Owl Falls lies just a couple of miles south from the intersection of US 64 and NC 281, near Sapphire, NC. It is right along NC 281. I made an error on my first visit here and ended up not seeing this waterfall. There is a parking area just north of the bridge crossing the Thompson River. I parked here, crossed the highway, walked over the guardrail and made my way to the river. There was no waterfall. I checked both sides of the bridge….no luck. I rechecked Rich Stevenson’s directions at his NC Waterfalls web site, and realized my error. Parking was not supposed to be just upstream from the bridge, but about 1/4 of a mile upstream near the Brewer Rd intersection. The Thompson River snakes it’s way north along 281 for a short ways and the waterfall was actually downstream a good ways from where I was looking for it. Let this be a lesson to all… Read the directions…lol


This is your parking area, along NC 281. Another small parking area (if heading south) is on the right side of the road that will save a few steps. Walk down the road, on the lefthand side, and cross the guard rail. There will be concrete drainage that leads to the trail. It will be marked by these:

The concrete drainage will look like this:

Once you have found this location, it is maybe 1/5 of a mile down a trail that requires a little bit of scrambling, but ok for the most part. Once at the river, you will find yourself on the right side of White Owl Falls, a beautiful, but small 15 foot waterfall.



With low water, the Thompson can be easily crossed here for plenty of photo ops on both sides of the River. On your next trip to the Whitewater Falls area, or Gorges State Park, make sure and check this one out. You will only be minutes away!

Here is a a short video of White Owl Falls from my Waterfalls Hiker Youtube Channel.


Author: waterfallshiker

I gave up the video game playing, TV watching lifestyle years back now. There just had to be more to life. I discovered a love for waterfalls on Christmas day 2008, at Elk River Falls in Elk Park NC. While not initially realizing it, this opened a whole new world, and lifestyle for me. I now love to spend my free time, hiking to waterfalls, and mountain tops in search of pristine views. This has also led me to a love of photography and blogging. While i am still not an expert at either several years in to this, I love the challenges that both offer me. I see my skills getting better at both as time goes by. Sharing what I see via social media brings me great joy. I love the feedback, good and bad. I love to see what others are able to show as well. I created my blog "WaterfallsHiker", originally to just help myself keep up with my travels, not really with any real purpose in mind. After 2 years on this blog, I see that It has evolved into a combination of an information site, and a place to show off my progress as an amateur photographer. I try to do it all and include some bits of my personality as well. It is something I really enjoy doing. When I am not working on this hobby, I can be found on a golf course, spending time with my beautiful fiance and her daughter, or working my 40 hours a week at Costco.

9 thoughts on “White Owl Falls”

  1. Is there a good bank or flat spaces around the base of this fall? I’m an event stylist and want to do a styled shoot in the area. I need good flat space for small table and chairs. Just curiousof the area around the falls. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lacy, I love this waterfall, but I don’t believe it will accommodate 2 chairs and a table. There is really just enough room to set up a tripod on a rock. I would think something like Triple, Hooker, or Bridal Veil Falls at DuPont Forest would all provide plenty of options for you…lots of wide open dry bedrock there


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