Accessibility – Medium
Height – 18′
Distance – 3.5 miles to see Simon’s Falls (out and back)
Distance – 7.0 miles to see everything (out and back)
Beauty – 6
Photo rating – 8
Solitude – 8
GPS Info: LAT 35.0635 LONG -82.9876
Last updated – 10-17-2016
On my journey down the Thompson River in Mid-October 2016, Simon’s Falls was my last stop of the day. After Big Falls, Standing Stone Falls and Rich Falls, Simon’s Falls was a bit on the anti-climatic side. Of course after the physical and mental abuse heaped on by the hike (rock climb/leap-of-faith/bushwack/riverwalk/rockhop/scramble) from Big Falls to Rich Falls, I don’t know that I could have taken anything more strenuous. Simon’s Falls is a small sliding rock type falls with a large open area across the creek. The pool below the falls is cold and deep. Like so many mountain creeks, the water goes from 10 inches to 10 feet deep in a single step. It made for a nice place to take a swim and relax after a daylong hike.
To get to the trailhead, follow NC281S from the intersection with US64 3.6 miles to Brewer Rd, which is on the left. Pull in and turn around, parking as close to NC281 as you can. The trailhead follows the logging road that intersects Brewer Rd at an angle right at NC281. The hike begins by heading up the hill but this is only a brief ascent. The trail soon moderates before beginning into a long downhill slope. The grade is modest at best but continually descending. This becomes apparent on the hike back! The grade is easy to follow. Along the way there are side trails that intersect. The one on the right before you get to the river leads to High Falls. Ignore them and stay on the main trail until it meets the Thompson River. At this point you are 1.3 miles from the trailhead. My visit was in low water and there was no way across without getting my feet wet. I don’t know what this crossing would be like in higher water but if the current is too strong, it’s probably not a good idea to cross.
The trial will pass a great campsite on the left, you can’t miss it, before the trail bends to the right. At 1.75 from the trailhead you will hear the waterfall down to your left. There is an easy to follow scramble path that leads down. There are some steep parts but the trail is short and easy to follow. The trail ends on the open rock across the creek from the falls. The creek wraps around the exposed rock, providing a great place to spread out and enjoy the day. The hike to this point is family friendly. If you’re going down the river from here, it will not be.
You can shoot pretty much from anywhere on the rock area. The colored rock of the falls is very interesting and with the fall color, it made for a nice setting. My intent had been to stop here, hit Ried Branch before pushing on to High Falls but after a dip in the creek and some time to unwind, I realized that Reid Branch and High Falls were going to have to wait until next time. Not a surprise. I realized early on that this wasn’t going to be my last trip down the Thompson!