Waterfall List

Shacktown FallsLooking Glass FallsFrolictown FallsRainbow Falls, SCTriple FallsWardens Falls
North Harper Creek FallsWidows Creek FallsTories FallsDrift FallsCove Creek FallsDouglas Falls
Glen Burney FallsFalls between Walker and DouglasMoore Cove FallsWindow FallsBridal Veil Falls (Highlands)Crabtree Falls
High Shoals FallsUpper Whitewater FallsHebron Colony FallsLower CascadesCrabtree FallsCullasaja Falls

Waterfall List, a set on Flickr.

Waterfall list sits at 68 visited as the end of summer is in sight. Fall is on the way, cooler weather and vibrant colors will soon follow. I can’t wait.

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Grandfather Trail To Macrae Peak

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Grandfather Mountain was the site this past August weekend for the most rugged, craziest hike I have completed to date. I have been on some hikes that had steep inclines/declines. I have been on hikes that required ladders to climb large boulders. I have even hiked to Calloway Peak, the highest point on Grandfather Mountain via the “Profile Trail”. So…when I saw the warning signs in the parking lot at the famous “Mile High Swinging Bridge”, I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and thought to myself, ” it can’t be that bad….they are just posting this for disclaimers”. Little did I know…….

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I have been to Grandfather Mountain numerous times in my life. I even have a season pass there. It is after all North Carolina’s top attraction. The swinging bridge at 5200 ft, and the view that awaits on the other side are both absolute must sees. Just a short ways down the mountain are a number of other places to visit including a museum, fudge/ice cream shop, and a large outdoor wildlife center that allows visitors to get fairly up close for good views of black bears, cougars, eagles, river otters, and deer.

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Also, though not officially on display was the largest collection of chipmunks I have ever seen. There had to be at least 30 of them running around on the back side of a building.

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After the wildlife viewing, it was time to get down to business. There was this trail called the Grandfather Trail that needed my attention. This is where the fun truly begins. My hike begins in the Black Rock Parking Lot, the one below the one at the bridge. This is where they want all hikers to park. The red blazed Grandfather Ext. Trail begins here and connects with the Grandfather Trail in 0.6 miles. We had massive storms the day and evening prior and the ditches, and creeks were all flowing well along with just about every rock surface wet. This should have been a sign for me. When I fell and busted my tail on the grass before the trailhead, that should have been a sign. I hiked on. The ext. trail was nothing more than a connector trail, that was a creek the entire way on this day.

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The shots above show the condition of the Ext. Trail on this day. It literally was a creek, not a tiny spring or two. This mountain just has a lot of water to drain I guess. It is the starting place for the Linville River, Watauga River, and Wilson Creek just name a few. Notice the fresh deer tracks along the trail, not an uncommon sight up here, they truly are everywhere.

Now that we have made it to the The Grandfather Trail, we are roughly halfway there. 0.6 down, 0.6 to go. The trail from this junction, begins out being rocky, wet and rocky this day. Shortly, Macrae peak becomes visible and fun is sure to be in the near future. The path opens up at Grandfather Gap with lots of huge boulders dotting the landscape. After this, the incline begins.

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Cables, thick steel cables are the first assist you will find as the climb goes up over large slippery boulders. There is a narrow pass between 2 huge rocks that has cables and a ladder. From here the trail literally goes straight up!! There is no other way to put it. There will be at least 5 or 6 more ladders to climb, with dicey rocks to navigate between them. As you approach 6000 feet in elevation the wind is a big factor up here. There was also some considerable fog moving in and out, making this hike quite an experience.

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Once you have climbed the triple ladders, or what I call the “Stairway to Heaven”, it keeps going up. The blue dotted trail parallels the cliffs now and the terrain is very rocky. It is not long however before you reach this days destination….Macrae Peak.

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Once up on this last rock, I savored this moment. This was an accomplishment, not your ordinary hiking trail. A large group was on top with me all just in amazement of the trail and views. Calloway Peak is a beautiful view from here, but with the wet conditions, I felt it was a good point to head back.

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Now comes the moment I was really nervous about , going down. This is where most falls happen, and with the crazy climbs just made, I was somewhat worried about going down. I took my time, 1 step at a time and got down eventually. I took the Grandfather Trail all the way back this time to the upper parking lot and then the 0.4 mile Bridge trail to my car that takes you under the mile high swinging bridge for a neat view and perspective. This was quite a hike, one I will not soon forget.

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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. Continue reading “Trash Can Falls”

Upper Whitewater Falls

Upper Whitewater Falls, at 411′ is the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi. That is argued by some, however one thing can not be disputed. This waterfall is an amazing site. This can be accessed just off of NC 281, 9 miles south of US 64 in Sapphire NC, and just a mile or so from being in South Carolina. This is a fee area, requiring $2, but the money is well worth seeing the falls and the facilities there are decent. At the upper end of the parking lot, the paved trail begins. In 1/4 of a mile you will reach the top viewing area which is handicap accessible. The view here is good, but….drop down about 155 steps to the lower viewing area and it is as good as it gets. The view is sensational. Be ready to share the deck with other photographers.

This is a pretty long drive for most people, so planning ahead is important here. This waterfall can easily be paired with some others in the area for a super waterfall day. Just down the road in SC is Lower Whitewater Falls. You can drive down into SC to view this one or keep hiking down the steps from Upper Falls and hike down the Foothills trail. I have yet to do this one but maybe this fall.

Some other options include the Thompson River which you pass on NC 281 on the way to Whitewater Falls. This opens up another 4-6 waterfalls including the amazing Big Falls. I also have yet to do this but reading other blogs, it is a good 5-6 mile round trip.

An option that I have done is drive into Gorges State Park and hike to the super waterfalls along the Horsepasture River, including Rainbow Falls, Turtleback Falls, Drift Falls, and Stairstep Falls. This is accessed also on NC 281, about a mile south of US 64.

If none of those options look good, I have also visited Upper Whitewater Falls and then stopped at DuPont Forest on my way back east to visit Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.

Last but not least , Panthertown Valley is also right in the area. It has 10 or named waterfalls and is a fascinating place to hike. The main point of all of this is that Upper Whitewater Falls is a sensational waterfall to visit, but the hike is minimal, so something else should be planned to make the trip worth it.

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