One of the greatest benefits in purchasing Kevin Adam’s updated “North Carolina Waterfalls”, is finding new hidden waterfalls in places that have already been visited. I was pretty certain that I have seen most of the waterfalls in the Linville Falls area, the ones open to the public anyway, especially any,….along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Well, As it usually turns out, I was wrong. There are more, in fact many more to go back and explore. This is excellent news for me, as my hunger to see new and exciting waterfalls has recently taken me as far south as Georgia and and far north as northern West Virginia. The author/photographer/hiker extraordinaire Kevin Adams has recently posted some photos and descriptions of English Falls on his website. This can also be seen on pages 80-82 of his book. After reviewing this carefully…. along with seeing some awesome photos by other waterfallers on Social Media, I felt it was time to venture out and find this one for myself. Being a noticeably low flowing Creek in the photos, and reading what a difficult hike this was, I wanted to time it just right. This meant a cloudy day, hopefully after some rain. As it turns out, I did get the cloudy part right. The lighting for the pictures was excellent. However, the water flow was very low. The rain….was coming, as well as a good deal of thunder & lightning. It just had to wait until I got there, halfway down the mountain.lol
First off, Safety is a key concern of this trek, I can not stress thus enough. I am going to attach Kevin Adam’s review and hiking instructions to English Falls.(Click on “English Falls). He says it best. While my goal was to follow his instructions the whole way, I got off track, I believe by following the path created by others.
This hike begins at MIle Post 322 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is just north of the Bear Den Overlook, and just south of the nice Chestoa overlook. The parkway is particularly curvy in this section, so be cautious. I found a nice place for 1 or 2 cars maybe to park, just north of where I entered the woods. Finding this spot to enter the woods took a few minutes walking up and down the road. Looking south bound, at about the 10th wood post in the protective guard rail, I found this:The only resemblance of a path begins by going down in a small patch of Virginia Creeper. After this, the path, mostly a path anyway, follows down the hill. There is some flagging tape tied to some of the Rhododendrons that I used as a guide. Flagging tape comes and goes though, and can’t always be counted on to be there. The roughest part of the trail to follow….is in this section. Just keep going down the path of least resistance. The trail soon levels off for awhile and makes a distinct left turn into a “tunnel”, going under the Rhododendron line. A few of these required a scramble, as this is still not a highly traveled area. In a short distance, a distinct turn right and a straight down hill hike awaits. As of 7/28/17, there were 3 ropes placed to assist with this descent. They were in good shape, but you can’t always count on them to be. Always inspect the rope for being solidly secured and in good shape before putting your weight on it…a good precaution. The first rope was purple and fairly short , while the second one was much longer. This second one is the most needed rope in my opinion as there is just not much to hold on to here. Aftr this second, long descent, I came to what I considered to be the “Sketchiest” part of the hike. The trail came to rest briefly on a small ledge about 8-10 feet tall. Getting down this, even with rope was tricky. I managed, but wasn’t sure that I would get back up this same way. It looked like the ledge gets shorter a little further up and the drop would be smaller, but some additional bush whacking would be necessary. As it turns out, I would not see this ledge again though.After this drop, falling water can be heard close by and soon comes in sight. It is still a slow go as I was now maneuvering down the river right side of the Creek at a steep angle with not much else to hold onto except R&R (Rocks & Roots). Down below the falls are several nice places to set up and take some photos. Once down there, I was simply taken away…floating in waterfall heaven. I did my best to stay off the beautiful green moss and once down, I got no closer than I was here. I was able to take several photos and videos before…..the Thunder Rolled…A very fast moving storm was now upon me as the large drops began pelting. I wrapped it up, packed all the gear away and contemplated my return hike. I knew I didn’t go the way Kevin Adams described, and I was looking across the Creek at another path leading away. I had to think quickly and chose to cross, and not return the way I came. The trail began climbing, following the base of the cliff that I was at the bottom of at a very inconvenient moment. There was no flagging tape on this side, and it wasn’t long before the trail began to sputter out. Not ready to “give up” and return the way I came, I continued to the end of the cliff where I could make a left turn and begin hiking up. I could tell by the tracks, that this has been done, recently even and followed. The climb here was steep, just as steep as the rope assisted area, just without the help of the rope. For this reason, I would not advise most to go this way. After a few rest stops and more climbing, it leveled off at the base of another cliff. I was able to walk to the edge and see a glimpse of English Falls well below. Looking up, there was no good trail and I didn’t see much human track activity. Another option here was to follow this new “middle cliff” along the base. I did see footprints here and took this left turn. I was now headed back towards the Creek. It wasn’t long before I reached the Creek….surprisingly at the base of a 25 ft waterfall. I knew this day was going to be a good one. As it turns out, I had just stumbled upon Upper English Falls. (click for Kevin Adams report). My apologies to Kevin Adams….if I had read his awesome, informative reviews better and more completely, I would have know this was here and been expecting it and even looking for it. But, I took off from work early, rushed home for my gear, and did my best to get to these waterfalls, before the 80% chance of storms kicked in. I just made it as it turned out. By the time I stumbled on Upper English Falls, I was absolutely soaked head to toe from the torrential rains , covered in a fine layer of dirt and mud from the gruesome hike and climbs. It was all I could do to get the gear out and get 1 photo here. The lens was also soaked after this shot. So, I packed up again, left the Creek on the side that both my car was, and the Blue Ridge Parkway are on. In a short distance, I surprisingly found myself back intersecting the trail I took to get down to the Falls. It was right about in the middle of the second, long white rope. I will remember this spot when I return, to make a short, side trip to Upper English Falls. I don’t see myself scaling the mountainside on the river right side with no rope again. By taking this way, I was also above that 10 foot drop section, so i am not able to report how difficult that was. In the pouring rain I was happy to skip it. The rest it the trip was easy, wet and uneventful.
As usual, I took some video while down there. It can be seen here:
In closing, I just want to to remind everyone of the extreme difficulty of this hike. Think strongly about this before attempting it. There is no established trail, and probably will be no one to help if something goes wrong. If you do attempt it, be safe and enjoy. Let me know what you think of it!