The Waterfalls of Laurel Creek along West Virginia’s Scenic Ride Into The New River Gorge
On my first waterfall trip to West Virginia a few years back, I passed some waterfalls along WV 16 on my way to see Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge, along US 60. I wasn’t expecting these and was very pleasantly surprised. There wasn’t much room to park alongside this twisty, narrow highway. The spot that I did find was near the lower of the 2 waterfalls visible from the highway. This one was more scenic than the upper waterfall in my opinion, but getting down to the base was no easy task. The bank was steep, and littered with large loose rocks on a bank full of loose gravel. In 2014 I did not make my way all the way down. I was able to get a decent photo of the waterfall that grabbed my attention from the highway.Fast forward to 2017, I have spent several hours already in southern West Virginia visiting Brush Creek Falls and Camp Creek Falls and decided to add Cathedral in again. The water levels were way up and Cathedral is on a very low flow stream that really depends on higher waters to really look its best. Well, of course to get here, I found myself along WV 16 again passing Laurel Creek. I could tell just by the Upper Waterfall on Laurel Creek that my plans had just been altered and that I would be spending some significant time here today. The Upper Falls were very impressive on this day. Since I had only stopped at the Lower Falls in 2014, this was my first real exploration of this one. It was a beauty. A wider view of the Falls shows some smaller falls off to the right. The view from the road on this one is excellent….better than the Lower Falls. There are less trees to obstruct the view and there is a nice path just along side the metal rails that run along the highway, before the bank drops. Now, being near the Upper Falls, I could see and hear some additional falling water action just downstream. This can not be detected from a car window moving along the highway. It was actually a pair of Falls as the creek kind of splits aound a huge rock. They were actually quite scenic with the high flow, the waterfall on the left being particularly unique. It was a little trickier getting down into this section of the small gorge. Being cautious, careful footing, and being aware of where something is to hold on to if needed is crucial here. This photo show how close these “Middle Falls” are to the Upper Falls.Doesnt look amazing from above….but enough waterfalls explored now, I knew to keep working my way all the way down. Here is the view of the waterfall on the left….or the “River Right Side”. I love the “bowl effect” here. The rest of the water of the Middle Falls drops here. It’s not as unique as the other side and my feet got soaked trying to get into place for this shot…..It happens….After spending close to an hour at this spot, I was excited about what the Lower Falls would offer. It is just a short trip in the car, down and around a few twists and turns until the awesome site appears. A small parking area is just down the road a bit. Also, I was making it to the base today….no matter what. Lower Laurel Creek Falls was absolutely awesome today. What was a small trickle on the road side section was now a full free flowing separate waterfall. I had to pull out the extreme wide angle lens for this scene. Prints of this one and others can be purchased at www.waterfallshikerphotography.com.Yes, I made my way all the way down to the base. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I remember it being. Maybe my skills have just gotten better…lol. I wanted this section isolated and it was special!While getting down wasn’t terribly hard, it was difficult getting way out here in the middle, as the rocks were all drenched and slippery. It was worth it though. Once I made way back to the road, I could see and hear that there was more work to do. A side creek on the opposite side falls into Laurel Creek just downstream from the Lower Falls. With the higher flow, it was scenic and worth the trip back down into the gorge.After this, nearly 2 hours had passed. It was getting late in the afternoon and the waterfalls that I had scheduled to see were just put in hold for another trip. I did make it to Cathedral Falls though.
Cathedral Falls had a very flow, but lots of people here as usual. I do think this one needs the color that spring offers to look its best.
I made a short video from several different looks of the Upper and Lower Falls: