Welcome to Hiking WNC

Update time – My goal is to one day have my site caught up. The problem is, I like hiking more than typing. Maybe when it gets cold out I will get caught up. We’ll see…a few more done on 1-29-2023 so 106 to go, which includes 10 new ones the weekend of the 28&29. I had 316 to go when this update spree began on 01-07-2023.

Last few hiking days (not all waterfall hikes)

2023-01-29 – Red Eft Falls, Black Eft Falls, D Eft Falls, Hidden Cl Eft Falls and Mill Branch Falls (NC281N)

2023-01-28 – Laurel Fork Waterfalls (SC) and Unexpected Falls (US178)

2023-01-21 – Middle John Neal Falls and Upper John Neal Falls

2023-01-06 – Bestos Falls, Upper Bestos Falls and Joe Pack Falls

2023-01-01 – Amos Creek – Blowing Rock

2022-12-30 – Buckhorn Gap Trail (Pisgah 400 hike) – Upper Twin Falls on Henry Branch (Ugly Twin trib)

2022-12-29 – Cemetery Loop Trail (Pisgah 400 hike)

“You can plan a hike. You can’t plan an adventure, they just kinda happen!”

Chris A, June 2017

“If you bushwhack in the same direction long enough you’ll eventually wind up on an overgrown logging road”

Chris A, January 2019

“It’s gonna take a lot to out-bitch Black Mountain Falls”

Chris A, February 2019

“And then there were ten!”

Chris A. (while nearing the Road to Nowhere) August 31

Some history. In October of 2012 I made my first visit to Brevard, North Carolina. I didn’t know what to expect but it was love at first sight. The mountains, trails and waterfalls in Western North Carolina (WNC) quickly became a passion. My explorations have taken me across the area from Highlands to Brevard to Marion, Pisgah to Nantahala to Gorges. Since moving in July 2019 I have managed to hike every weekend but one! This also presented the chance to hike in the winter for the first time. Fall color is great but every season has it’s advantages. Bushwhacking in winter when all the bushes are dead is much better. Creek walking in winter isn’t as much fun. The following links are my short-term and long-term waterfall goals.

These lists are updated as of 01-08-2023

My Current to-do List waterfall hikes (Top 20)

Pisgah 400 (215 miles done)

South Beyond 6K (9 togo)

Smokies 800 (long way to go)

The 500 List – COMPLETED 10-12-2019 – 500 List Completion Order

The Kevin Adams 100 NC Waterfall ChallengeCOMPLETED ON 6-22-19

The CMC 100 Waterfall ChallengeCOMPLETED ON 08-19-2020

The CMC Fire Tower Challenge –  COMPLETED

The Waterfall Links

My Waterfall List                                          Waterfalls by Location

Alphabetical Listing                                             Top 10 Waterfalls

Top 10 Waterfall Hikes                      Other Hikes (no waterfalls)

This blog (more of a website since it’s laid out like a website) is a photo-journal of my hikes. I’ve devoted a page to every waterfall and I’ve also added Fire Towers I’ve visited, whether they deserve it or not. Very few go into the latter category. My efforts here aren’t just about giving directions nor is this the definitive guide. Many of my hikes come with a story. Expect to see a lot of pictures. If you want to visit the places I’ve visited, each page used to include driving directions, but in this day, I’m leaning toward providing the GPS of where I parked. There are trail directions, mixed with commentary and opinions. When the trail ends and the bushwhack/creekwalk begins, I can only point you in a direction. I am not a mapmaker so my distances are rounded off. Will they get you close to the falls? Sure. Are they a step-by-step, tree-by-tree, rock-by-rock accounting? Nope.

Along with visiting the known waterfalls in the area, on occasion I come across one that had yet to be documented. Here is my short list of Waterfall Discoveries

I compute my driving distances by starting the odometer on my Xterra and going from there. I chart my hikes using the All-Trails App. I draw my distances from here. Landmarks change so make sure you have a map. I also offer suggestions on the best locations for photo ops. I don’t profess to be a professional photographer but I have fun and I like to take pictures. When I look at my early efforts versus the more recent I can see a huge change in my photographic style. I actually developed a style when I avowed to never again set my Nikon D3200 (since retired and replaced by a Nikon D5600) to full auto. For my tastes, point-and-click and waterfalls just don’t mix.

A waterfall doesn’t have to be massive to be amazing – Grassy Creek Falls – July 2017

I don’t have any rules for comments on my site. All of the pages are open to comment so if you have something to say, something you think I should include or you just want to say, “hey, was that you’re electric blue Xterra I saw at such and such trailhead?”, feel free. You may see me at multiple places in the same day. On hike days, I don’t mess around. It starts early and ends at sunset or later. I may try and hit half a dozen falls in a day or I may shoot for a dozen.

This is why I do it! This is why I go! – Big Falls – October 2016

If you have never been hiking and you’ve come across a waterfall on my site that you are dying to see, I strongly suggest you go HERE before you print out directions and wander into the woods. If you’ve never ventured off-trail before, understand the risks involved. If you head off-trail or hike in a remote area and get hurt, you could die. It gets cold in the mountains and things can eat you in the mountains, like bears. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to encounter a bear, I can tell you. I am up to six bear enounters, although my first was vastly different than most bear encounters other than the fact it involves food. If you want to read about my encounter with a bear, follow this link to My Bear Story. We also now have bear story II, which can be found here.

Steels Creek Falls on a cloudy March day im 2019

Something to keep in mind is not all of these explorations follow a defined trail. As I chugged deeper into the 500 challenge and beyond, fewer hikes followed the beaten path. Quite a few followed the road less traveled and the rest don’t follow a road at all. If you’re not experienced with off-trail hiking, use your best judgment. I rarely venture off alone on scouting/exploration hikes. Those are done in the company of a great group of friends I’ve met in the WNC hiking community. This is when I go off-trail. My daughter completed her first waterfall hike, about 3 miles round trip shortly before her fourth birthday. Since that first hike in DuPont she has been to 350+ waterfalls. I base my kid friendliness ratings on how she did but the final decision on what your child can handle is up to you. After that many waterfalls, my little adventurer knows how to hike, scramble and rock-hop. She is also fully aware of the dangers. If you take your kids hiking, they should be aware of this as well.

Big Laurel Falls under a blanket of leaves – October 2018

My waterfalls are numbered by order of visitation. Triple Falls is listed as “001 – Triple Falls” since this is where the obsession began. English Falls is listed as “927 – Joe Pack Falls” as it was one of the more recent stops on my quest to see them all. If you’ve been here before and you want to see what I’ve been up to, the links below lead to the waterfalls that were most recently added to the site as well as some other special galleries.

Some of my more amazing adventures

Road to Nowhere

Snowbird Loop Hike

The Toxaway River Shuttle

Adventures in Dark Prong 

Flat Laurel Creek

Upper Whitewater Gorge

The FR464 Half-Marathon

The Waterfalls of Fork Creek

All GPS coordinates are taken from my GPS app so use them for reference purposes only. If I plan on hiking via GPS coordinates, I enter them into topographic mapping program first to make sure they’re close to the mark. I suggest you do the same. There’s nothing worse than reaching the trailhead, powering on your map program only to find out that the coordinates you entered have you headed to downtown Charlotte. Keep this in mind. Once you’re out there, cell service is spotty at best, so don’t rely on your phone.

A nice treat on North Fork Scott Creek

Many times the pictures are drawn from multiple visits. As of January 2023 I have hiked to 925 different waterfalls.

The Milestones along the way

Waterfall 100 – Unnamed waterfall in Pantertown (tranquility Falls)

Waterfall 200 – Portage Left Falls

Waterfall 300 – Slick Stick Falls

Waterfall 400 – Lower Cold Branch Falls

Waterfall 500 – Cane Creek Falls in SC

Waterfall 600 – Cutler Falls

Waterfall 660 – Laughing Falls (500 List finale)

Waterfall 700 – Sols Creek Falls

Waterfall 800 – Waterfall #6 on Chucky Branch – Up Chuck Falls

Waterfall 900 – West Campbell Creek Falls

If you’re looking for a particular waterfall, use the search function but keep in mind, very few of these waterfalls have official names. In fact, they sometimes have 2, 3 and 4 different names. Cathedral Falls is Birdrock Falls and Stone Mountain Falls is Little Falls, it can become very confusing. Thankfully most are named after the creek or river they’re on. The only addition I’ve made to this confusion are some occasional references to Guardrail Falls (Bubbling Springs Branch Cascades). After our first visit my daughter called it Guardrail Falls because the hike began by going under a guardrail. I laughed that day (she was 5 when she christened it Guardrail Falls) and I still smile when I think about how her logical view of the world brought forth that name. I’ve also included an alphabetical listing.

Solar Eclipse – 08-21-2017

High Falls Dam Release04-16-2017

High Falls Dam Release – 08-27-2018


Fall Color 2016 – 10-28-2016

Winter Wonderland Pics – 02-16-2016

Bonas Defeat Falls – June 2017

The final section of my site covers other hikes we’ve done that didn’t feature a waterfall. There are so many great hiking opportunities in the area that going forward I see where more of my time is going to be spent enjoying non-waterfall hikes, or simply using alternate approaches to waterfalls that includes different trails. My daughter and I are already excited to hike the Foothills Trail from Lower Whitewater Falls to the base of Upper Whitewater Falls.

Some waterfall resources I’ve used to aide myself in my explorations