Elk River Falls, Elk River

Elk Park, North Carolina

Located near Beech Mountain, Banner Elk and the small town of Elk Park is the impressive Elk River Falls (formerly called Big Falls) in Pisgah National Forest (Appalachian Ranger District). This 50-ft. North Carolina mountain waterfall cascades over a rock cliff and into a picturesque oval pool. The trail to the top of the falls is an easy five-minute walk. You can safely stand on flat rock area and watch the waterfall plummet over the cliff. A short but steep trail takes below the falls.

This beach and swimming area well below the waterfall can be a little crowded on hot summer weekends, but it's often very quiet. It's free to enjoy!

Safety Alert: Almost every year, someone dies here while diving or trying to swim in the swift currents. Remember, do NOT get into the water above the waterfall since currents can take you over the waterfall. Do not dive from the rock cliff - that has been deadly by getting entrapped by unseen boulders and other objects underwater. Also, don't attempt to swim under the falls or climb the rock face. The waterfall creates very strong currents in the very deep pool, pulling even strong swimmers under the water. The safe swimming area is below the bigger pool past some other boulders (photo above). See more Waterfall Safety Tips.

COVID-19

Keep your distance from other people.

Practicing social distancing is still essential. Only go to the beach if you are able to keep 6 feet or 2 meters away from others. Follow the instructions provided by your local health authorities. If your community has asked that you remain indoors and away from others, do so. Spending a day in any crowded place is the worst thing we can do for our most vulnerable right now and will counter our efforts to curb the virus’s spread.

Water Quality
  • Meets water quality standards

  • Current Status
  • This status is based on the latest sample, taken on August 2nd, 2022. MountainTrue Watauga Riverkeeper updates the status of this beach as soon as test results become available. These results were posted to Swim Guide on August 5th, 2022 at 9:33 AM.
For water quality icon legend, click:  
Monitoring Frequency

Elk River Falls, Elk River is sampled weekly from May 25th to September 7th.

Source Information

The Watauga Riverkeeper is a program of MountainTrue and a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance. Every week from May to September, Watauga Riverkeeper staff, interns, and volunteers monitor water quality at sites across the Watauga, New, and Elk river watersheds. Weekly results are posted on Fridays so you know where it's safe to swim, fish, and paddle on your weekend adventures. Results will be communicated through the Swim Guide mobile app and website, as well as the Watauga Riverkeeper Facebook and Instagram pages.

The Watauga Riverkeeper utilizes the EPA-approved IDEXX method for collecting and analyzing water samples and compares the results against the EPA standard for health of 235 E.coli cfu/100 ml. Test results are expressed as Most Probable Number (MPN) of E. coli cfu (colony forming units) per 100 ml.

A beach is marked Green when single sample results are under 235 E.coli / 100 ML water.
A beach is marked Red when the results are equal to or above 235 E.coli / 100 ML water.
A beach is marked Grey when there are no current results or there is no available
information.

Read more
Water Quality Graph

Elk River Falls, Elk River

Elk Park, North Carolina

COVID-19

Keep your distance from other people.

Practicing social distancing is still essential. Only go to the beach if you are able to keep 6 feet or 2 meters away from others. Follow the instructions provided by your local health authorities. If your community has asked that you remain indoors and away from others, do so. Spending a day in any crowded place is the worst thing we can do for our most vulnerable right now and will counter our efforts to curb the virus’s spread.

Water Quality
  • Meets water quality standards
  • Current Status
  • This status is based on the latest sample, taken on August 2nd, 2022. MountainTrue Watauga Riverkeeper updates the status of this beach as soon as test results become available. These results were posted to Swim Guide on August 5th, 2022 at 9:33 AM.
For water quality icon legend, click:  

Located near Beech Mountain, Banner Elk and the small town of Elk Park is the impressive Elk River Falls (formerly called Big Falls) in Pisgah National Forest (Appalachian Ranger District). This 50-ft. North Carolina mountain waterfall cascades over a rock cliff and into a picturesque oval pool. The trail to the top of the falls is an easy five-minute walk. You can safely stand on flat rock area and watch the waterfall plummet over the cliff. A short but steep trail takes below the falls.

This beach and swimming area well below the waterfall can be a little crowded on hot summer weekends, but it's often very quiet. It's free to enjoy!

Safety Alert: Almost every year, someone dies here while diving or trying to swim in the swift currents. Remember, do NOT get into the water above the waterfall since currents can take you over the waterfall. Do not dive from the rock cliff - that has been deadly by getting entrapped by unseen boulders and other objects underwater. Also, don't attempt to swim under the falls or climb the rock face. The waterfall creates very strong currents in the very deep pool, pulling even strong swimmers under the water. The safe swimming area is below the bigger pool past some other boulders (photo above). See more Waterfall Safety Tips.

Monitoring Frequency

Elk River Falls, Elk River is sampled weekly from May 25th to September 7th.

Source Information

The Watauga Riverkeeper is a program of MountainTrue and a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance. Every week from May to September, Watauga Riverkeeper staff, interns, and volunteers monitor water quality at sites across the Watauga, New, and Elk river watersheds. Weekly results are posted on Fridays so you know where it's safe to swim, fish, and paddle on your weekend adventures. Results will be communicated through the Swim Guide mobile app and website, as well as the Watauga Riverkeeper Facebook and Instagram pages.

The Watauga Riverkeeper utilizes the EPA-approved IDEXX method for collecting and analyzing water samples and compares the results against the EPA standard for health of 235 E.coli cfu/100 ml. Test results are expressed as Most Probable Number (MPN) of E. coli cfu (colony forming units) per 100 ml.

A beach is marked Green when single sample results are under 235 E.coli / 100 ML water.
A beach is marked Red when the results are equal to or above 235 E.coli / 100 ML water.
A beach is marked Grey when there are no current results or there is no available
information.

Read more
Water Quality Graph

  Beach Location Water Quality
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Banner ELK, North Carolina
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