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For the Love of Waterfalls: 7 Great Waterfall Locations
  • Michelle Harris

For the Love of Waterfalls: 7 Great Waterfall Locations

I talk a great deal about waterfalls and hiking on my Instagram. A few weeks back I shared some of my favorite trails and only a couple had waterfalls. I thought I would share some of my favorite hikes with waterfalls. So if you enjoy hiking and waterfalls this post is for you!

"As long as I live. I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing." John Muir

For as long as I can remember I have loved to visit waterfalls. The hike or walk to get there is peaceful and relaxing (and sometimes all out work). Then when you arrive at the falls the sound of the rushing water just rushes over me and takes all the stress away. I have put on my bucket list to visit every waterfall that I can possibly get to and I am starting here in North Carolina and my own backyard. I have visited numerous falls already and I am by no means even close to seeing all that North Carolina waterfalls have to offer. This week I am going to share some of my favorite falls that I have visited, a bit about why I like it so much and about the trail to get there. In my next post I will share with you the best way to photograph a waterfall. #naturephotography #waterfalls #waterfallsofNC #chasingwaterfalls

"I love the sounds and power of pounding water, whether it is the waves or a waterfall." Mike May

7 Great Waterfall Locations

1. Linville Falls (pictured above)

This is and always will be one of my favorite places to go. There are 3 views of this fall and each one has something unique to offer. First is the Erwins View Trail which offers several views of the upper cascades. This is a easy walk of about half a mile from the visitor center. In this area you can also see the drop to the main falls in the Gorge. Continue down Erwins trail and you will find the Chimney view. This is the upper most view of the waterfall which is nestled in the gorge. From the chimney view you are able to get a great view of the full water fall 90 feet below.

If you are up for a bit more work the best view is at the bottom in the gorge. I must tell you this is not a hike for the faint of heart and is considered strenuous by most. The trail to the basin is 3/4 of a mile long and is a steep decent with many stairs and difficult slopes. Once you reach the bottom the work is not done. The terrain has changed drastically over the years that I have been hiking there and now you have to work even more climbing over rocks and fallen trees to get to the base of the falls. It is so worth it when you get there. Take a picnic with you and sit a spell and just enjoy the view and the peaceful surroundings.

If you are up for a short walk visit Duggers Falls while you are there. The trail for this fall is at the back end of the parking lot for Linville Falls. This is a quaint short walk to the falls. While not the same size and beauty of Linville Falls it is still worth a look if you are in the area.

2. High Shoals Falls (pictured above)

This is one of the more recent waterfall visits I have had. High Shoals Falls is gorgeous from the bottom to the top. It is part of South Mountains State Park just south of Morganton. There are a couple of options on this trail. You can hike 1 mile to the falls and return the same way or complete the loop for 2.7 miles. Waterfall aside I recommend taking the full loop as the scenery is beautiful.

The trail begins at the Jacob Fork parking lot and follows along the Jacob Fork River. The first half of the trail is an easy walk with view and sounds of the rushing water that cascades over the large boulders in the river. Don't rush past this area, it is worth slowing down to see and hear. There is also a short nature trail that runs parallel to the main trail that is worth taking a stroll down. When you reach the platform you have a grand view of what I would call the lower cascades of the falls. This is just as spectacular as the main falls especially if there has been a good rain before you get there. Continue over the boardwalk and you will reach a set of stairs. The stairs are rather steep climb and can be a little slick if it has rained. If you dare climb the numerous stairs you will be rewarded with an observation deck at the base of the falls. If the water is really flowing you will be able to feel the cool mist coming from the falls. If you dare complete the 2.7 mile loop you will be able to see other views of the falls and river as you come across the other side of the loop. To complete the loop you must take more stairs before getting back to the dirt path.

3. Hanging Rock - 5 Waterfalls

Hanging Rock state park is home to 4 waterfalls with a fifth one just outside of the park and is worth mentioning here. There are 3 falls inside the main park area that you can access from the parking area at the rangers station. The fourth falls is off Moore's Spring Road just outside of the main gate. The final fall is located off of Charlie Young Road.

Let's start with the 3 falls that are inside the main park which are the Upper Cascades, Window Falls and Hidden Falls. The trail head for all three of these can be accessed from the same parking area at the rangers station just at opposite ends of the parking lot. When you first pull in the parking lot go ahead and park this is the closest to the Upper Cascades. Walk across the main road to the trail and follow it down a short easy walk to the falls. It is very pretty, but not the prettiest of the bunch. If you are wanting to photograph it this can be interesting. You will need to scramble down a little hill and there isn't a perfect spot to set up. This one is pictured below.

The next 2 I will talk about together Hidden Falls and Window Falls. The trail head for these are on the opposite end of the same parking lot. Both of these falls you can access on the same trail which for me is a huge plus. This is a simple walk down a dirt path of about a half mile to Hidden Falls. Getting down to the falls isn't difficult, but can be a little tricky. Watch your footing I have slipped more than once getting in and out. While this isn't a huge waterfall it is a very scenic little area and is worth a stop. If you continue down this trail you will reach Window Falls which is named for the cutout in the side of the rock beside the falls. This falls is taller than hidden falls and has an opening behind it allowing you to walk behind the falls. I have to warn you here. Should you decide to walk behind the falls take extra care with your footing. I watched several people fall and bust their tails on the slick rocks.

The next one I want to share with you is the Lower Cascades. This is prettiest and most serene of the bunch. The Lower Cascades is located just outside the main gate off of Moore's Spring Road. From the gravel parking area it is about a quarter mile to the falls. You start on a dirt path that leads you to a set of stairs down to the falls. The falls has a small wade pool that you will find families with their kids swimming in during the summer months. The falls are very pretty especially after a good rain. To the right of the main falls are small cascades that you shouldn't overlook. If you are walking around this area be careful the rocks under the water are very slick.

The final one to tell you about in this area is Tory Falls. While still part of the state park it is located outside the main park on Charlie Young Road. If you were making a special trip just for this waterfall I would tell you not to. While being pretty the view just isn't the best and trying to access better views is dangerous and I don't recommend it. Along the same trail is Tory Den which is a neat little visit.

4. Dry Falls

Dry Falls is located just outside of the Highlands near Asheville. This fall is anything but dry. By the name I was expecting more of a trickle type of falls, but that certainly isn't the case here. It actually gets its name because you can walk behind the falls and stay relatively dry. It is a short easy walk along a board walk to get to the first view of the falls. It is roughly 75' tall and does not disappoint. If the water is flowing well you may even be treated with a rainbow in the base of the falls. A little word of caution though. Should you decide to walk behind the falls watch your head. I had my favorite pair of sunglasses on top of my head and needless to say they fell victim to the sharp rock over head, but I am extremely thank it was my sunglasses and not my head that was damaged.

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." John Muir

5. Looking Glass Falls

Located just North of Brevard Looking Glass Falls is easily accessed roadside. Steps lead down to the falls for a better view and if you are feeling adventurous you can head out on the rocks and in the water a piece. As always watch your step if you head out into the water as the rock are slick. This is a very pretty waterfall and a very popular one as well.

6. Moore Cove Falls

Just a mile from Looking Glass Falls is this waterfall. While the water flow from this 50' tall waterfall is not overly impressive it is still worth the visit if you are in the area. The neat thing about this fall is the fact that you can walk behind it and into the cove. While I was there a family was actually having a picnic in the cove. I think it was a really cool idea. The trail to this fall is an easy walk. The trail does continue past the falls and is said to lead to another smaller falls. However, I have not been down that part of the trail and have read that it should be reserved for experienced hikers only due to the steepness and danger.

7. Stone Mountain Falls

Stone Mountain Falls is one of two falls in the Stone Mountain Park. It is part of a state park that has much more to offer than just waterfalls. The walk to the falls isn't too bad and passes by the south side of Stone Mountain, however you do have to take several hundred stairs to get to it. So if you hate stairs like I do the sound of that many stairs is daunting. It is very worth it to get to the falls. The water flows down the side of face of sliding rock (I would not recommend trying to slide down the rock) into a nice wade pool. This is a nice area for a picnic if it isn't too crowded.

"Travel not to find yourself but to remember who you've been all along." anonymous

There are so many more waterfall locations I could share with you. If you follow my Instagram you know I have a passion and love of waterfalls. I try to make it a point to find new places to visit and even revisit the ones I have been to before. Every visit brings about new views, peace and solitude. I enjoy nature as it takes me back to childhood times that were much simpler. The hikes to get to the falls may be difficult, but are always worth it.

If you are considering having a photo session give me a call and let's see if we connect. Let's capture your true family dynamics and the real you!

        Winston-Salem, North Carolina                 336-408-0804       



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