New for 2014!! In an effort to improve the waterfall experience for everyone, I have made a few tweaks, changes and added Videopress. This will now allow me to present blogs with video. I think a good short video can really add a new dynamic to the viewer/reader, especially when presenting something like a waterfall. Read more
Paradise has been found…..at least for this Waterfalls hiker. In an effort to treat my fiancé to a special weekend getaway, my searches led me to the Greystone Inn. The reviews alone were amazing. The price, well, it is certainly out of my range most times of the year. Thanks to modern, mobile coupon sites, I was able to come across a deal that was essentially buy one night, get the second night free. Read more
This spring has been a busy one….I have not been on a hike since late April. I had some free time this second Saturday in June. As I pondered a place to go, it dawned on me that I had not been to South Mountain State Park in over a year and a half. With all of the rains that just blew through from tropical storm Andrea, I had high hopes of some excellent waterfall views. Read more
I ran into an old friend the other day whom I had not seen in years. One of the things mentioned was that her and her family loved seeing my posts and pictures online. The simple things in life like this makes doing my hobby so much more rewarding. After a few minutes of talking, this person mentioned that her and her husband’s favorite trail was the Profile Trail on Grandfather Mountain. Read more
Lower Cascades, a set on Flickr.
A collection shots from the numerous trips I have made to this location. This is a beautiful 35 foot waterfall in Hanging Rock State Park that requires about 1/3 mile hike that starts off through the woods, then down a series of steps, some wooden and some stone.
It was a snow flurry filled Saturday and I was itching to get out. I had decided that this day was to be my first hiking trip with waterfall pictures using my tripod and DSLR. I have taken my point and shoot along long enough, and gotten nice waterfall shots, but something is just lacking in them. I had not been producing that silky, white water that better photographers get. I had tried some, but didn’t do this , or didn’t do that, or left the tripod at home, etc. Today, it was overcast, and very cold. I knew I would have some private time at the falls and it was time to set up and experiment until I saw something I liked.
I did not want to go far, so I chose nearby Hanging Rock State Park. It is a wonderful state park loaded with hiking trails, magnificent views from points reaching 2500 feet in elevation, a lake, the Dan River, historical sites such as Tory’s Den, and is also home to 5 waterfalls. On this day I would hike 3 separate trails to get to 4 of these 5. First stop was the waterfall that is located outside the main park, and probably the most picturesque of the group, the 35 foot high “Lower Cascades”
Getting here requires a drive to Hall Rd, just outside the main park, a well marked parking area is on the right. The trail is about 0.3 miles and starts out as a nice walk in the woods. The descent to the falls is down a series of steps, wooden and stone and is safe. It will likely cause a little huffing and puffing on the way up, but it is not too bad. At the bottom, you will be greeted with a beautiful 35 foot waterfall, steep cliffs on the left, and a beautiful stream that cascades more as it leaves the falls.
This was a good trip, I was very pleased immediately, so I decided to hike to another one. I drove up the mountain into the main park to the very large parking lot at the visitor center. Here is the access to the Upper Cascades, another 35 foot waterfall on the same creek. The trail is short again, maybe 0.3 miles that descends to the waterfall viewing deck, then down some steep steps to the base.
Again I was pleased with these shots and on this hike, snow began to fall. It was not too heavy and did not stick so it made the hike even more enjoyable. I decided to do one more trail, on the other side of the parking lot. This one was the Indian Creek Trail, which also runs along the Mountains To Sea Trail. This leads to 2 waterfalls along Indian Creek. While smaller than Cascade Creek, it is still very scenic and the waterfalls are nice. First waterfall is Hidden Falls, a small 13 ft fall that looks very nice when it has water flow.
Another 0.2 miles down the trail is the more defined Window Falls, a 25 foot waterfall, named for the 3-4 foot hole in the gigantic rock formation at this waterfall. This waterfall requires some steep rock steps to get to as the trail really begins to descend here.
The last 2 shots are the “Window”. After the return hike, I decided that was enough for this day. I had certainly found what I came up here seeking. Now it’s a whole new world.
It is the first weekend in November, and time to see some new waterfalls. With all things considered, including a very cold air mass in place and lots of snow on the ground in places, it probably was not the best time to drive several hours north into West Virginia. I had just seen several pictures of Sandstone Falls along the New River in West Virginia. After the photos and reading up on it, I was intrigued. Only 10-25 foot high falls, but along the river spanning a width of nearly 1500 feet wide. That had potential to be something special, I had to go.
The New River starts in my home state of North Carolina, with a South Fork and a North Fork. Down here the South Fork is the bigger of the two and a major source of recreation, from tubing, rafting, canoeing, swimming, picnics, fishing….etc. I have spent many a summer day floating down this river, sometimes spending nights along it. It is very special to me, with many memories. Once the two forks come together near the Virginia line, the river really grows and begins to pick up steam. By the time it cruises through Virginia and makes it into West Virginia, it is a major river, known for is large volume of water and numerous class III and IV rapids. I have made a few trips here to raft down it, and it is certainly a different and exciting experience than than the slower, more lazy nature of it in North Carolina. I will never forget falling out of the raft in Double Z rapid and spending the rest of the rapid under the raft trying to get back to air….good times…lol
The drive into West Virginia includes 2 super tunnels. One is 0.8 miles, and the other is 1.2 miles. There is no need to drive over these large mountains, just go through them. Turn those lights on, expect to lose all cell coverage and radio stations, and hope that you are not claustrophobic. It is pretty tight in there. Once in WV, I made my way by interstate, to Sandstone Falls State Park along I-64. My GPS wanted me to take HWY 20, but with all the snow, I was wondering if this was a safe journey. At the park, I thought I was there, only to have the employee tell me, that I had to drive 10 miles south on hwy 20 to the next bridge and then 8 miles back north on the other side….geez. Initially I went straight up, and was able to pull off to the right to a beautiful view of Sandstone Falls way, way above it. I thought , “this is like a mini-Niagra”. Ok that is stretching it quite a bit, but it was quite an impressive display of water below. I also passed Brooks Island, which was a nice view from above, of a very large, long island. The road soon descends towards river level and you will find yourself in Hinton, a very interesting riverside town. It is very compact, and has a number of museums. You will get an interesting view of Hinton after driving through it, crossing the bridge and heading back north, up the river. The road on the other side is very narrow, but paved thankfully. The 8 miles along it at a speed limit of 35 seem to take forever, but you really get an up close and personal view of the New River here. It is a nice drive. Once at the park, it is time to head out on the boardwalk.
The river is very wide here, and immediately the boardwalk zig zags you out on to a very large island. The first real view here is of Lower Sandstone Falls, a smaller but still very nice section of falls. It is separated from the main falls by the very large island.
After taking this in, it is time to continue on down the boardwalk. There is a trailhead for an island trail. I kept walking along the boardwalk, which heads deeper into the river. When it ends, there is a nice view along side the main river, however it is somewhat downstream from the falls. This was not satisfactory, as I had seen many up close photos of these falls. Backtracking my way up the boardwalk, I got off onto the island and made my way up towards the falls. This starts off as a walk in the woods, then there are numerous pools and small streams of water to maneuver. This was really just an extended session of minor rock hopping with a spot or two where you have to be creative. Once at the top of the island, it is a wide cliff that sits about 10 feet above the falls. The falls here are wide and powerful. There is so much water moving all around you. Trying to photograph this turned out to be my biggest challenge, as I just do not have the equipment or skills to capture it in its entirety. It was beautiful.
Once done here, it was time to head back. Now convinced the roads were snow free everywhere, I chose to take Hwy 20 south back to I-77. It followed the New River for quite a ways up to the Bluestone Lake and Dam.
I had one last surprise waiting for me. There are a number of state parks along this short, scenic route. In the Pipestem community, not far from the state park, was a roadside waterfall named Pipestem Falls. It was pretty, and named after the ground cover that has hollow stems and was once used to make pipestems.
There was also an upper section to the falls that was pretty as well. Looking back on Sandstone Falls, I can imagine in high water that the falls could drown out. I also am pretty sure that it would be much harder if not impossible to reach the views that I had. It was a great first waterfall trip to West Virginia, and in spring, I plan to go back.
It is a beautiful second weekend in November. Temps are soaring into the 70’s. it is a great time to do some hiking along the trails at Pilot Mountain. There is a problem though, it is closed. The mountain is on fire!! Yes, the great Pilot Mountain, that stands alone in the northwest piedmont, with it’s distinctive Big Pinnacle, is covered in smoke and flames for a third straight day. As of Saturday evening, 700 acres have been charred.
This all began from a prescribe burn that went badly wrong. It was supposed to begin and end on Thursday 11/8, yet the fire jumped the lines and has now burned free for 2 days. Officials claim to have it contained and no homes are at risk. 1000 acres are estimated to be burned by the end. When all of this is said and done, what will this mountain look like? Is prescribed burning a good idea? If they do it to prevent wildfires, but end up causing one instead, I would say not!!
Below are some photos of the Pilot Mountain Fire from today 11/10/12. Also is a photo from this summer showing Pilot Mountain before the fire.
This is the last of the 3 waterfalls I visited at Tallulah Gorge. This one is called L’eau d’Or Falls. It is roughly 46 feet high. It will look familiar to some as the waterfall from one of the dramatic scenes in the movie “Deliverance”. I haven’t watched it in awhile, but I believe Burt Reynolds’ arm was broken by this point and Ned Beaty stayed with him while Jon Voight was forced to climb out of this 600 ft gorge for help. It is one heck of a climb even using the well built stairs, 531 from top to bottom. I am ready to watch the film again and look for other familiar scenes from the gorge now!
Tallulah Gorge, a set on Flickr.
First time into the Gorge, I took the recommended 1.5-2 mile introductory hike that led me to several views along the North Rim at the Gorge and several of the waterfalls from way above. I then descended down the 531 steps to viewing platform across the large pool at the base of Hurricane Falls. If you get there early enough, this day I did not, you can obtain one of 100 Gorge Passes and walk further into the Gorge.
This Gorge is located just past the dam of Tallulah Falls Lake and is some of the headwaters of the great Savannah River.