Waterfall List

Shacktown FallsGibbons FallsFirehole FallsHickory Nut FallsElk FallsTriple Falls
High FallsUpper Whitewater FallsTurtleback FallsUpper Creek FallsRainbow FallsDrift Falls
Bridal Veil Falls (Highlands)Dry FallsQuarry FallsCullasaja FallsGlassmine FallsDouglas Falls
Walker FallsFalls between Walker and DouglasWardens FallsFrolictown FallsGranny Burrell FallsWildneress Falls

Waterfall List, a set on Flickr.

The Waterfall List grew by 2 this weekend to 74…..as I visited 2 of Panthertown Valley”s finest waterfalls: Schoolhouse Falls and Greenland Creek Falls. If I had my map, it could have been a few more, oh well. Schoolhouse Falls with it’s picturesque setting, is easily an instant top 10!!!

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Roaring Fork & Setrock Creek Falls….Just More To Love About The Mount Mitchell Area!!

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One of my favorite routes to the NC mountains includes traveling via I-40 to exit 86 in Marion, then routing my way to NC Hwy 80. The route that NC 80 takes once it winds past Lake Tahoma, is one that is straight out of a Forza video game. The crazy twists, turns, narrow & sharp U curves, just make it so fun to drive. By the time the climbing stops, one will find itself at 3000 feet or so, crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is not the elevation gain that is that crazy, just the way it does it. I have traveled many a mountain highway, this one is tops. Knowing that, please be careful if driving it. The real cool aspect to Hwy 80 is not the elevation gain, or even how it does it, but instead where it takes you. Once on the parkway, going left will take you to Mount Mitchell State Park where you can access the highest peak in the eastern US at 6684 ft, Craggy Gardens and some very special views and numerous other overlooks. Going right on the BRP, you are just minutes from the Crabtree Falls area with the campground, coffee/gift shop, hiking trails, and my favorite…Crabtree Falls. Keep going up the parkway and you will soon be in Little Switzerland with lots of shopping, good dining and Grassy Creek Falls. Just a few miles more and you come to Linville Falls. So it’s really the location that Hwy 80 crosses the Parkway that makes it such a special route.

But….what happens if you just skip the parkway and just keep on NC 80? Well, this day I found out. The road heads back down hill for a ways, then at 2.2 miles past the BRP comes the entrance to the left that leads you to Black Mountain Campground. Don’t pass this by, there are plentiful hiking, camping opportunities here and even my other hobby, golf at the legendary Mount Mitchell Golf Course.

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Finding such a beautiful golf course on the back side of Mount Mitchell with the giant mountain looming all around was a real treat for me. Notice the cloud on the mountain, even as it is clear and sunny everywhere else, Mount Mitchell looms in darkness way up there some 3700 feet up and 20 degrees colder. This was such a find that a friend and I returned days later just to play golf. It was very beautiful with the South Toe River flowing all through it and witnessed some huge trout in some of the pools. At that point I wanted to go fishing. This is why people love to camp up here, so much to do!!

Anyway, at 2.2 miles past the parkway, turn left onto South Toe River Rd, cross the creek and immediately take a a left. This will get you to the first waterfall featured here, Roaring Fork Falls. Follow this a short ways and it will dead end, this is the parking area, the trail head is well marked.

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The trail to Roaring Fork Falls is just .5 mile one way, just a slight ascent to get there on a very well maintained old logging road. It is a very pleasant hike. There are a few old, deserted buildings to add to the scenery. It won’t be long before the road makes a sharp left turn, the trail to Roaring Fork Falls breaks off here, crosses a small bridge and then becomes a smaller trail covered in roots, just for a short ways though.

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Soon, you will arrive to a surprisingly beautiful long waterfall, that is 45 feet high, but 100 feet long.
Pictures just do not do it justice.

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After returning to the car, head back to the entrance, instead of turning back onto Hwy 80, turn left. You will pass numerous views of the golf course. In a short ways , make a right turn towards the campground and pull into the visitor parking area. Here , lies a huge map station of all the trails. Pass this by and cross the bridge over the South Toe River into the campground. The first left goes past several campsites then begins to slowly climb. The trail head for Setrock Creek Falls is just ahead. Before I got there, I discovered a different trail head. One that I have been wanting to hike for 2 years now, ever since climbing the Profile Trail to Calloway Peak on Grandfather Mountain. This trail is the one and only Mount Mitchell Trail, the one that runs 5.6 miles and climbs more than 3700 feet. I did not have the time,or supplies today for this but I will be back!!

Just past this wonderful discovery, is the Setrock Falls Trail. Once reached, it is a short climb up the creek to this very nice 75 ft, 6 tiered falls. To get the best view, there is a dead tree that crosses the creek that must be crossed. Once there, it’s a very nice falls.

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In the map picture of the hike, the soon to be hiked Mount Mitchell Trail can be made out winding up the mountain. Today, though was just about the waterfalls here, and after returning to car, my fun day here was over. This was a great find today for me!!

Laurel Falls – One of Eastern Tennessee’s Finest

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It is now the middle of October, and I am in the mountains to see some color. Leaving the triad on US 421, it is painfully obvious that many others have this same idea. Once we got to Boone, it seemed everyone kind of dispersed and went their own way. I wanted to visit the Roan Mountain area, so I chose a route that used US 421 to Boone and then US 321 to cross into Tennessee and then to Hampton. Between Boone and Hampton, are 3 fine waterfalls that I know of: Trash Can Falls on the NC side, Compression Falls off of Poga Rd, and finally Laurel Falls in the Hampton area. The first stop is Trash Can Falls. This one is very easy to miss, as there are no signs. As US 321 runs north with the Watauga river to it’s right, there is a large pull off to the right. At the far north end of the pull-out is a small path that begins on the other side of the highway. This leads you maybe 1/10 of a mile just up a small creek and gorge to the waterfall and pool known as Trash Can Falls. Trashy name, nice waterfall, and a local favorite swimming hole in the summer.

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After this short pit stop, the road twists and turns into Tennessee. Not far into the state, you will cross the Elk River and Poga Rd. I did not visit it on this day, but a few miles up Poga, is a barn that you park at to see Compression Falls. This is one of my favorites, but a beast to get to, even though it is only 0.7 miles. The descent down the river bank and gorge is unmatched as far as difficulty. More people get injured at this one than any others in the area. Here is a shot from a previous trip.

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Anyway, the next thing you will notice is the beautiful Watauga Lake, fed by the Elk and Watauga Rivers. With the colors at their peaks, it was a pretty drive along the lake. Once past the Lake, the Hampton area is soon up. As you pull into Hampton, there is a pull off and parking area for Laurel Falls. Drive right on pas it. There is a shorter, flatter, alternate way. About 1/4 past this, is Dennis Cove Rd, a narrow, newly paved road. Take this left, it will twist and climb about 4 miles to the Appalachian Trail Crossing. This is the parking area. The trailhead for the waterfall starts here. Just follow the white rectangular blazed AT about 1.3 miles, right to the waterfall. The first mile or so is about as flat as a mountain trail can be. I later learned that this used to be a railroad track, kind of explains the flatness. After crossing a neat footbridge, the trail winds a short ways through some rock passages and then the sign….

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From here, the AT makes a long descent down into the gorge. The trail is largely rock steps, but big ones. It is a pain to get down and some good huffing and puffing back out. Once down there, you are at one of Eastern Tennesse’s better waterfalls, Laurel Falls, 55 feet high.

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If you look close enough, you can see 3 people who were unwisely playing around on the top. This is how people fall and get seriously injured or worse, die. The water was fairly low on this day and the whole gorge was in shade. Here is a shot from my last trip here when the water was significantly higher..

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It was beautiful on both days, I would say go early for better lighting and preferably after recent rain. After the tough climb out, it was a nice flat walk back and off to Roan Mountain we went, only to learn that Roan High Bluff closed on October 1, and we did not have the time to make the long hike. That is how it goes sometimes, so we headed back into NC and caught a few shots of Grandfather Mountain before heading home.

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Here is the EveryTrail Map of the Laurel Falls Hike, total was 2.6 miles out and back.

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Cool Footbridge with some nice fall colors

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Nice flat trail, following an old railroad bed

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Looks like they will need a new tree to paint the AT Blaze on!

October Hike To Crabtree Falls

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Well, it’s now October in the NC high country. Leaves are beginning to change, and a chill is slowly pushing the heat away, as temps now struggle to reach 70. These are some of the best hiking conditions Mother Nature will have to offer. On this day, the 3rd of the four waterfalls I visited was Crabtree Falls. Crabtree Falls is not just a Waterfall but an entire BRP region with a large campground, coffee/gift shop, trails and picnic areas. The highlight of course being the 70 foot high Crabtree Falls itself.

The trailhead for this starts in the campground just past MM 339 on the BRP. The trail itself is mostly all downhill to the waterfall. Just down the hill from the trailhead, another trail meets from the left. Stay straight, this trail to the left is the one you will be coming back on, if you choose to make the loop. As you get closer to the falls , there will be 3 fairly long, steep, rock stair cases. They are slippery when wet. Also, when it has rained recently, like this hike, the trail itself is a creek. This adds to the risks, but also adds to the rewards of a prettier, higher volume waterfall! At 0.9 miles, the trail levels somewhat as you reach the beautiful destination.

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A bridge crosses the creek just in front of the falls, providing an excellent view or photo op. Some better close up shots can be obtained by scrambling up either side, with the right side being more accessible. There are some fallen trees at the bottom. They help show the size of Crabtree Falls. Stay here for awhile and take this beauty in, because getting back is where the work begins.

Once it is time to leave, you have two options: return the way you came for a 1.8 mile out and back, or stay on the trail, cross the creek to make the 2.7 mile loop. Both ways include some serious leg burning climbing. The loop way has some additional pretty views of the creek including a few small cascades. There is actually a third option, a trail that continues down into the woods, but I have no idea where that ends up. Having more waterfalls to see on this day and not much day left, I chose the 1.8 route and went back the way I came. It is a strenuous 0.9 back to the trailhead.

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