The last weekend of April 2017 brought me a chance to see Lower Bearwallow Falls in Gorges State Park. I have had this one high on my “Waterfalls To See” List for years now. It is said to be a difficult, long hike, one that should be researched and planned ahead of time. The opportunity was there several years back but I had other plans. Once the idea was put before me in spring 2017, I was all over it. Read more
Pot Branch Falls is a beautiful, yet small 3 tier waterfall, well tucked away in the South Mountain Game Lands. After attempting to visit the waterfalls of South Mountains State Park, only to find the rather large parking area totally full on a cool 50 degree day, I opted for a plan B. What exactly was plan B? Wasn’t quite sure yet. I was definitely not in the mood for nearly 100 people all at the waterfall at the same time. As I left the park, pondering where to go next, I stopped at the bridge over Jacobs Fork River. Just upstream is a small waterfall that has been well marked “No Trespassing”for as long as I have been waterfalling. The signs that were here were large and clear….But on this day in spring 2017, they are gone. Does this mean that this track of River is now open to view? I can’t answer that, but I decided to check it out anyway for further research….lol Read more
I haven’t visited Gentry Creek Falls in NE Tennessee until 2017. For some strange reason, I had it in my mind that the double Gentry Creek Falls were too far away for a day trip….. Also from what I was reading, they were extremely difficult to get to. After finally doing some more in depth research on this one, I discovered I was way off. It is in Tennessee….but just barely. This waterfall was about as close to me as some other NE Tennessee Waterfalls I have previously visited, such as Laurel Creek Falls, The Blue Hole, Jones Falls, and Compression Falls. The closest town Gentry Creek Falls is associated with is Laurel Bloomery, TN. This is a tiny town near the place where the Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina state lines all meet. Its very close to Damascus, Va and Mountain City, Tn, and maybe 30 minutes from Boone, NC. This one is actually pretty close for me. I should have visited this one long ago.Read more
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. Read more
January 1, 2017, another New Year upon us and another opportunity for some memorable New Years Hikes. Following the trend of the past few years, I set out for some “new to me” falls. There is no better place to look for new falls than on the “Carolina Mountain Club’s Waterfall Challenge 100” list that I am getting into the latter stages of. I set out to find waterfall #78 of the 100, and Cove Creek Falls became the destination of#78. Most of the ones left on the list for me to explore are in this area or the Great Smokies. Finding it only required a little research into the 2 best resources for North Carolina Waterfalls….1)North Carolina Waterfalls Third Edition by Kevin Adams, and 2)www.northcarolinawaterfalls.com website by Rich Stevenson. If one is unable find the information for the waterfall they seeketh on one of these two resources, chances are the waterfall is either on private property, or doesn’t exist. Read more
The Narrows of Eastatoe Creek is one of the waterfalls on the Carolina Mountain Club’s Waterfall Challenge 100 that I have been working, off and on to achieve the last several years. This particular hike was a longer one at 5 miles round trip. The majority of the hike is on a relatively (a few ups and downs) flat forest road with just the last section descending into the gorge and creek way, way below. It cuts down the very steep mountainside through a series of switchbacks and well placed stairs. It was nowhere close to being as strenuous as I had imagined it being. At the end is a beautiful, elevated viewing deck with an unobstructed, although distant view of the very unique waterfall formation known as “The Narrows”. Read more
As I planned my last waterfall hike of 2016, I first chose the big one. It came down between Pinnacle Falls and The Narrows on Eastatoe Creek, both in upstate SC along US 178. I usually like to make a full day so picked a few smaller, easy ones as well. I planned to find and visit a small, delicate beauty known as Sweet Thing. This one is a small 20 footer on Slickum Creek located just upstream from its crossing of SC Highway 11. Anyone that has visited the very popular Wildcat Wayside waterfall that is right along side the highway should also visit Sweet Thing. I was quite surprised at how close the two were. Read more
My best fall outing in 2016 came on October 20. The season had been a let down for the most part due to the extremely warm and dry conditions most of the summer and fall. I had an aggressive plan this year primarily based on the dates of some of my favorite photos from years past. This…..was a strategical error on my part. October 1 came with primarily green dominated landscapes. Finally on the second half of October, color began to really pour in. On Thursday 10/20, weather was an issue as it was to be the last day of temps in the 70s before the first real cool blast came in, dropping temps into the 40’s in the mountains for that Friday and Saturday. I chose Upper Creek Falls, because, well most others didn’t. I would also need to ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway, through the Linn Cove Viaduct to get there. After 2 failed attempts t see color in the Grandfather area of the Blue Ridge Parkway, maybe this day would be better. Read more
2016 has been the year of Kevin Adams, here in our NC Mountains! He has released a new, much anticipated and updated edition of his iconic “North Carolina Waterfalls” book. He has spent a good part of his summer making appearances at various western NC locations promoting his book and giving his waterfall and photography presentation. He has made waterfallers out of many of us common folks who once upon a time, had absolutely no clue of what wonderful treasures our hills were hiding. So in October .. when Kevin came out with a post on his North Carolina Waterfall Facebook page that listed the 11 top waterfalls for Autumn photography, I read with great interest. Number one on his list was Upper Sols Creek Falls. This is one that I had not previously visited. I had already seen some wonderful photos of this by some fellow waterfallers, and with the beginning of autumn here upon us, I headed out to see this one for myself.
This one seems like it would be easy enough to find. The general location is along NC Highway 281, several miles south of Tuckaseegee at the 281 / 107 split. It is described to park just up the road from where NC 281 crosses Sols Creek. The first problem I ran into, was finding Sols Creek. I kept looking for a bridge to cross Sols Creek. I finally found the spot where it “should be” on the cell phone map and parked for a closer inspection. The way NC highway 281 is developed through here, there is very little indication that there is even a creek here. Only by stopping, checking GPS, and backtracking to where the road dipped to its lowest point before climbing back uphill, was I able to locate Sols Creek.
I parked up the road a bit at what was a wide pull out on NC 281. I walked back to where the highway crossed Sols Creek. They have constructed it nicely, channeling the creek under the highway through pipes instead of a more obvious bridge. The trees are so thick heading upstream that the creek can not be seen from a car view. There is a gated road looking upstream on the left with No Trespassing signs. I was like “Uh-Oh”. However, I trusted what books and my other resources said….that the Creek and Falls were on national forest property. I avoided the road and crossed the guardrail into the woods, bushwhacking my way down to Sols Creek. The vegetation was thick at first, but I was able to pick up a faint trail and followed it. A creek crossing came soon where the remains of an old bridge and road remain. The forest has done an excellent job of reclaiming this land. The large concrete structures are all that give it away. From here it is simply 1/2 mile up the creek, not a simple hike though. The trail will cross many times here. Keeping your feet dry is simply not an option. This is where my Keen water shoes came in very handy. For those with little creek walking experience, this is a good stretch for Creek Walking 101. It’s fairly safe, and much easier than trying to keep your feet dry.
There will be a section or two where a trail picks back up, then back to creek walking. You may even see the remains of a bridge, which just shows the power this water has when it gets high. Once the creekbed turns to bedrock and starts climbing, the water gets noisier and Upper Sols Falls is near. Just a little further and there it was:
It was a beautiful waterfall, just nowhere close to optimal photo conditions though. Most of the shots here all came from a cell phone. The sun was too bright and the shadows were too harsh when trying to capture the whole scene. I climbed on the rocks some to get some closer shots and get the sun only shots, but just wasn’t the day. The leaves on the trees hadn’t even begun to change even though is was the 1st weekend in October.
This is a good hike to either have some water shoes, or wear some that you don’t care to get wet. Once that issue is taken care of, it’s a pretty easy, short hike. I found it to be about 3/4 mile one way from where I had the car parked on NC 281. This would be a nice hike to go along with some other waterfalls closely including Paradise Falls, many of those in Panthertown Valley to make a nice day trip out of it.
I recently made a change to my job that allows for some periodic traveling. One of the huge benefits to this has been the opportunity to see waterfalls outside of my home region. My recent trip over the last week in August took me to New Jersey. The first thing that comes to most people’s mind when they hear New Jersey isn’t ….Waterfalls. Read more