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
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
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.
The popularity of the waterfalls along or close to NC Hwy 215 has grown tremendously over the last decade. The stretch of highway 215 between US 64 near Rosman, and the intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway is famous for the waterfalls at the Living Waters Ministries, Courthouse Falls, and the somewhat lesser known Dills. There are also a good number of waterfalls north of the Blue Ridge Parkway on or near NC 215, but this article will be all about the Dills. The Dills are the waterfalls closest to the Blue Ridge Parkway (between the BRP south to U.S. 64), and also the easiest to drive right past and totally miss. Read more
It had been a wonderful July waterfall weekend. After a month since my last waterfall visit, I was eager to get out this weekend and see all that I could. For the last waterfall on Sunday afternoon, I chose to visit Cedar Rock Falls as I was making my way through Brevard, NC. Cedar Rock Falls is a 20 foot waterfall that lies just off the Cat Gap Loop Trail in the Pisgah National Forest. It is fairly close to Looking Glass Falls. This is a waterfall that I had yet to see and is also one listed on Carolina Moutain Club’s Waterfall 100 challenge. I could have….and probably should have just drove through Brevard and headed home, but the close location and the nice afternoon cloud cover that had developed convinced me to see one more. Read more
There is good news to be reported from Soco Falls. There have been some improvements to the treacherous trail that leads down to the base. It is hard to describe what all they have done. The ropes have been replaced for one. Also, it appears that work either has been done or is in progress to make the descent more of a “rock steps” if you will. I simply remember the last time I was there, the climb down was more of a mud path that was quite slick. In fact the last time I was there, a lady had fallen off the side of the trail. Here is the link to that trip report: Soco Falls – Still Beautiful, Still Dangerous. Read more
What a day for a hike along New Years Creek! I have been here several times prior to this visit with very little to show for it. It was too bright one visit. The water was too low another visit. The first time I hiked the Glen Burney Trail, I had only an iPhone camera. Needless to say, my photos of this waterfall have not been the highlights of my galleries. Last fall , a fellow hiker/photographer named Thomas Mabry, aka “The Honey Badger” posted a unique photo with a composition unlike any I had seen to this point. It really stuck with me. It made me really want to come back to Glen Burney Falls and take some photos from some new angles, and give this waterfall another, better effort. I decided the next time I hike the Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock, I would try to find the location that he had used. Read more
The Horsepasture River in southwest NC runs but a short distance at a little over 18 miles long, before in emptys into Lake Jocasse in northern South Carolina. Even shorter is the 4.5 mile section from NC 281 to Lake Jocasse that is designated a wild and scenic river. In this stretch of river is 6 named & famed waterfalls, tons of smaller falls and rapids that would might get names on most streams, and some of the prettiest waterfall scenery that North Carolina has to offer. This area receives a ton of rainfall. Gorges State Park, where the Rainbow Falls Trailhead is located, receives over 80 inches of rain per year. That’s a lot of water running down the hills, and the Horsepasture usually has a very healthy flow of water. Of the 6 names falls, 4 of them are fairly safe to reach, Stairway Falls, Rainbow Falls, Turtleback Falls, and Drift Falls (viewable from the edge of pool only due to private property). Read more