MaryAnne Hinkle Photography | 2014_2015 Waterfalls and Hiking Trails in North Carolina
The following waterfalls and hikes in North Carolina are on this blog:
 
RAINBOW FALLS
 
GLENN FALLS
 
DRY FALLS
 
BULL COVE FALLS
 
 
RAINBOW FALLS
 
 
Total Length: 3.0 - 4.0 mi
 
Trail Tread Condition: Moderately Rough 
 
Climb: Hilly
 
Lowest Elevation: 2,480 ft
 
Highest Elevation: 2,920 ft
 
Total Elevation Gain: 800 ft
 
Hike Configuration: Out-and-back
 
2 November 2014
 
The photo above is at the entrance to the Preserve at Rock Creek Mountain Properties - why not look at houses while visiting the mountains? I want to live there anyway!!
 

Before you attempt this trail, please be sure to take food and water with you and wear hiking shoes. There is steep terrain in this area and the day my husband, Jeffrey and I went, we met three hikers who truly wore the wrong shoes. One lady had on dress boots, another tennis shoes and another flat shoes and only one person had on a backpack and was carrying a water bottle. It can really be dangerous to hike in anything other than a pair of shoes that are made for hiking and further, it is without a doubt, incredibly dangerous to hike without food or water. (Just my 2 cents). 
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 Gorges State Park is located in the Blue Ridge Escarpment and is the only state park west of Asheville, North Carolina. Gorges State Park Visitor Center has many interactive activities for children to explore and a wonderful room to relax in front of a huge fireplace with amazing views (not to mention spotless restroom facilities).

A hiker should tread easy and stay on the main path from the Grassy Ridge parking area in Gorges State Park, onto Pisgah National Forest property, then down to the Horsepasture River where Stairway Falls can be found if directions below are followed.

This trail officially starts in Gorges State Park at the Grassy Ridge/Rainbow Falls Parking area and trailhead. Be sure to follow the orange circle tags nailed to numerous trees. The trail has a few switchbacks, so watch for those orange tags. After hiking about 5-15 minutes (depending on how often you stop like I do to take photographs and how fast you hike), the trail turns right. Should you continue hiking toward the left, you will come upon a primitive pay site at Ray Fisher Place and this can be reserved. Continue hiking the trail and making sure the orange tags are in your sight you will finally cross a small creek and come upon the national forest boundary in about 20 minutes from the kiosk near the parking lot.
 
Continue hiking to a nicely marked fork where a handwritten marker/sign is located that points hikers toward Rainbow Falls. If you wish to hike down this narrow trail directly behind this sign, please be prepared for steep earth where you will need to hold onto roots, branches and dirt so you do not tumble head over feet. Not many folks hike down to this area of the path where Stairway Falls is located so the path looks like a narrow goat path
 
If you do not hike down this little goat path, then turn right to head down the trail which will take you along the Horsepasture River to Rainbow Falls, Turtleback Falls, and the trail will end at the private property boundary just below Drift Falls. (Please Do NOT go past the signs at Drift Falls. The owners of this waterfall are very serious about trespassers! I read an article where a teenager slipped and fell to his death at Drift Falls. God Rest His Soul).
 
After you wrap up your hike at Stairway Falls, head back up the same way you came then turn left at the sign (mentioned above) to hike toward the other waterfalls in the area. After meeting with the river, the trail narrows and becomes much steeper and rougher up to the falls. The old steep, rocky, eroded side trail up to NC 281 is no longer open. There is one large area blocked off. Please again Do NOT take your chances to go past any blocked area - it is blocked off for your own safety specifically once you get near Drift Falls.
Once you drive past the interpretive center, drive another 1/2 mile to the Rainbow Falls Trailhead. This location is where the trail begins to take you to the exciting waterfalls like Stairway Falls, Turtleback Falls, Rainbow Falls and Drift Falls.
A serious warning sign.
Round orange markers are all along the trail to help you find your way through the area.
Here you are leaving Gorges State Park and setting foot into the Pisgah National Forest. Gorges State Park is adjacent to part of the Pisgah National Forest and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Toxaway Game Land.
This may not look too steep, but trust me when I say you have to either climb down backwards, or you have to squat and carefully maneuver yourself down (almost completely) on your rump to get to Stairway Falls.
My sweet husband absorbing the scenery after a hard climb down hills to finally arrive at this gorgeous location at Stairway Falls.  
Stairway Falls
 
I did some boulder jumping to get to this location and decided the best way to capture this image was to just lay down on the freezing cold rock. I really had no other choice but to do this since I walked right out of our house and left my tripod behind. So, in order to capture this image, I carefully placed my camera on a flat surface of the rock, pressed the timer and this is what I captured.
On the Rainbow Falls Trail the leaves were gorgeous!
A runoff from Turtleback Falls
RAINBOW FALLS
 
I took off and escaped down a side trail to get a full view of Rainbow Falls. Even after taking this shot and looking at the magnificent beauty of it, I cannot believe this is the tallest waterfall (at a whopping 125 feet tall) I have seen this close. The sun was beaming down on this fall and even though I captured this shot by just holding my camera and not using a tripod, I can't believe how well it actually turned out...it's not the best shot of a waterfall I've ever taken, but at least this image does give you a good enough idea of how gorgeous this waterfall is.
These mushrooms were found near an incredibly steep set of stairs that amazingly in my ole' age, I was able to climb at full speed.
Turtleback Falls is about 0.2 miles up the trail from Rainbow Falls.
On the way to Drift Falls this sign is hidden on a side trail. The main trail that you will be hiking down abruptly ends.
 
Drift Falls is about 1/4 mile up the trail from Turtleback Falls. Unfortunately, you cannot get very close without trespassing and because of the brush/weeds had grown incredibly tall, there was no way for me to get a good shot so alas a Drift Falls photo was not taken.
 
WARNING!!
 
DO NOT HIKE PAST THE SIGNS THAT ARE SPLATTERED ALL OVER THE AREA AT DRIFT FALLS since this waterfall is on PRIVATE PROPERTY...
 
Sadly, a 15-year-old teenager died at Drift Falls.
I almost ran into several trees while looking up at several gorgeous trees which bore their final red leaves for 2014.
 
 I hope you enjoyed viewing my birthday trip to Gorges State Park and the North Carolina Mountains. What a blessing to have visited this area. We cannot wait to go back. Be sure to please visit my website soon to see more hiking destinations.
 
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Glenn Falls
27 October 2015

For the past 2 years, we have made an attempt to capture this type of beauty in Georgia; however, I wanted to venture somewhere new. I felt the past 2 years have not been as rewarding regarding the leaf colors, so the next best state closest to us is North Carolina - so off we went and I'm thrilled we did! This hike was one of the best (by far) this year alone (in 2015) simply because of the colors that danced across the mountainsides. Jeffrey and I headed to North Carolina so I could capture the sheer beauty of leaf colors galore! The next six shots were taken at the Blue Valley Overlook area. 

The height of Glenn Falls is 145 ft. and it is located in the East Fork Overflow Creek in the Nantahala National Forest.
The hike is 1.1 miles and is considered difficult since the climbs are steep. Most of the hike heading to the falls is downhill, but just remember you have to climb back up hill. The path is filled with thick roots and can be a little treacherous if you are not careful. Wear good hiking shoes, pay attention, be cautious and you will be fine
.
Directions:
From Highlands, travel 3 mi. south on NC 106.
Turn left on U.S. Forest Service Rd. with "Glen Falls" marker.
You will drive a mile down a dirt road.
Again, the trail to the falls is steep and rough and consists of three large falls which two of the falls can be viewed from an observation deck; each dropping approx. 60 feet. We went in late October and the fall colors were stunning!

We took all 4 of our Alaskan Klee Kai because they need to see God's magnificent nature just as we do. The leaves were stunningly gorgeous to say the least!

At the second observation deck. The first one has a very small waterfall. Here it is - Glenn Falls. From the photos of this area, there never seems to be a heavy flow of water.

Jeffrey always hydrates our babies while I take pictures.

This waterfall is down the path a short distance and takes some scrambling to get to.

Heading out of the hiking area. The entire trail does NOT have steps, so watch your footing.
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DRY FALLS

 Dry Falls is remarkable!! Unfortunately I did not take my tripod, so this shot is not the best. Nevertheless, I really prefer hiking as opposed to just walking down a paved path, but the paved path gives folks an opportunity to witness the glorious beauty God creates in waterfalls.

Dry Falls is a very popular waterfall located a few miles outside of Highlands, NC and the location and man made built path and railings gives you the rare treat of walking safely behind a waterfall. This 75-foot tall waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest flows over an overhanging cliff, allowing you to walk behind the falls and stay dry (hence the name). During rainy spells when the water volume is higher, the spray will prevent you from staying totally dry.

Dry Falls flows on the Cullasaja River through the Nantahala National Forest. This waterfall is part of a series of waterfalls on a 8.7-mile (14 km) stretch of the river that eventually ends with Cullasaja Falls. In the narrow and deep Cullasaja Gorge, the Cullasaja River rushes and drops in a series of cascades and waterfalls to the Tennessee River near Franklin, North Carolina.

A two-lane highway called Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, clings to the north bank oft eh Cullasaja River is the combined route of U.S. 64 and NC 28, runs through the Cullasaja Gorge, which is mostly protected as part of the Nantahala National Forest. 

The U.S. Forest Service has designated this to be a National Scenic Byway because of the river, and its numerous waterfalls. Though the road is narrow and the curves are frequent and sharp, it can be a fun and beautiful drive. There are many places to pull off, get out and enjoy the views of the river. 

Directions:
Coming from Highlands:
Take Hwy 64 west for just over 3 miles from its intersection with Hwy 106. Pass or stop at Bridal Veil Falls, then look for a brown and white forest service sign for Dry Falls and turn left into the parking area.

If you are coming from Franklin, Dry Falls is about 16.5 miles east on U.S. Hwy 64. 

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BULL COVE FALLS
GPS Coordinates

35.00300, -83.54360
N35°0'10", W83°32'36"

11 November 2015

Bull Cove Falls is located in the southwestern Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. This has to be one of the most arduous hikes we have ever done. Rightfully so since it is rated a D5!

Directions:

From Atlanta: I-85 N to I-985 N which eventually turns into US 23/441 to Clayton GA. In Clayton, go West on US 76 about eight miles. Turn right on Persimmon Rd. near the volunteer fire department and sign for Tallulah River Campgrounds. Continue about 4.2 miles and turn left at Tallulah River Rd. This road will turn to gravel after a mile or so and leads to Tate City. Continue to follow the road through Tate City, across the N.C. state line until the road you come to a parking lot on the left. (See photos below for the road you need to turn down off Persimmon Rd).

This is a narrow road that starts out paved, then turns to gravel, yet follows a gorgeous scenic drive along the Tallulah River. There is an additional 7.5 miles to the Beech Creek Trail parking area on the left. This road crosses back into N.C. closer to the parking area. The blue blazed trail begins across the road to the right coming out of the parking area.

The above shot was taken at the trailhead.

The trail goes up hill in an incredibly steep pattern, then begins to switchback as it continues up the hill. From the crest of the mountain you just hike up, the trail then decends and crosses Beech Creek. There is a log you can cross on, but I do not trust logs, so our feet got wet due to the depth of the creek bed. The trail continues on and connects with an old logging road. This is where you will bear left here. In another 1/2 mile (about 1 mile total from the parking area), you will cross Bull Cove Creek and take the trail to the right that heads up creek to the falls. If you continue left, the trail will dead end where a small waterfall welcomes you. If you cross the creek, there is a path on the other side of the creek. Since we had our dogs with us, we did not chance crossing the creek because the water was so rapid and we were fearful our dogs could not make it. Nevertheless, once you take the trail to the right, you will have to climb up some boulders to get to Bull Cove Falls which is about 40' high and is in 2 levels. This is a nice peaceful waterfall in a cove - thus the name and is well worth seeing. If you are heading up to High Falls, rest here - you will need it.

The following material is borrowed from the North Carolina Waterfalls Book and some information has been reworded or left out to fit the description purpose for this blog:

After crossing Bull Cove Creek, continue upstream following the old mining road. At approximately 0.13 mile, from Bull Cove Creek, you will cross Beech Creek, as you will begin a long, continuous climb alongside the creek. After hiking 1.13 miles along Beech Creek and gaining 1,000 ft., in elevation, you will reach a rock wall set in the bank on the left. The rock wall is the remains of an old rail support. Immediately beyond the rock wall, the road cuts sharply to the left leaving the creek and beginning an even steeper climb with switchbacks as you traverse up the mountain. At 0.25 from the rock wall, you will come to the first switchback on the left since you left the creek. An obvious path leads straight ahead. A small wooden sign on a silverbell tree reads, "High Falls." The side path follows an old roadbed for a few hundred feet, descends steeply to the creek, then follows the streams upcreek to the base of the falls 220 yards from the main road. We did not get an opportunity to explore High Falls, but certainly plan to.

You are reading that right. Tate City only has 32 residents.

 

 

 

 

 The above shot was taken along the drive to the trailhead.

 
BULL COVE FALLS
To get to this waterfall, you must do some boulder jumping, root grabbing and rock scrambling. 

This the creek you must cross to get Bull Cove Falls. The water is deeper than it looks. 

The old road bed where miners use to work. This is the creek you must cross to get to the below shot. 
A small hidden waterfall runoff from Bull Cove Falls. 
Both of these campgrounds have some gorgeous views of the river bed. However, reservations are on a first come first serve basis. 
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