Here we go again…another shot of polar, arctic air sending temps into the single digits below 0 and wind chills in the -20’s. This pattern seems a little drawn out this January. However, if you pay attention to the weather, there are these short warm ups in between arctic shots. If timed out just right, one can get out fairly comfortably to enjoy the icy effects that this cold weather has on our local waterfalls.
It is Thursday, and highs reaching the balmy low 30’s just before the next shot of cold air tonight that has lows near 0. After a somewhat disappointing hike to Toms Creek Falls, I drove up about 2000 feet to Roaring Fork Falls. This meant ago using up the twisty, NC Hwy 80. I could see the snow up above, and was wondering at what point of the climb I might encounter it. Luckily, the road crews up here are fantastic. By the time I reached the BRP, an inch of snow was all around me, but the roads were dry and clear. Once I tuned left onto South Toe River Road, it was slushy, and the first left that has the sign for Roaring Fork Falls, was all snow. It is fairly flat and very short though, it could have been walked if it had to.
The trailhead for Roaring Fork Falls starts near the Mount Mitchell Golf Course. I played there last year and loved it. The views of Mount Mitchell, towering some 3700 feet above are breathtaking. At the end of the short side snow covered road I mentioned is a small parking area. The trail starts here at FS 5520. This is a fairly well maintained Forest road that is wide , very grassy, and fairly flat after an initial ascent from the parking area. There are some old standing concrete buildings along the road that have been out of use for a long time to enhance the hike. One thing I always remember about this place is the sweet grassy smell in the air here. It is probably one of the reasons I like this hike so much. This hike is only 0.5 miles one way, so once you get to a big curve to the left, look for a foot bridge leading to a smaller trail up into the woods. After a very short distance, this trail ends at the base of a very unique, beautiful cascade that is only 45 feet high, but 100 feet long. The numerous cascades down it make a very loud sound. It is quite a beautiful site any time of the year, but today with the inch of snow on the ground and ice on the falls from the extreme cold, it was special.
Here is a short video of Roaring Fork Falls