“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
Last five hiking days
April 28: Dark Prong (Upper Dark Prong Falls, Serpentine Falls, Dark Prong Falls)
May 04: Trillium Falls and West Fork Hickey Creek
May 05: Little Sam Falls, Woodfin Cascades, Sleepy Hollow Falls and Mt Toxaway Falls
May 11: McGilliard Falls and Granite Falls
May 17: Boomer Inn Falls, Big Beartrap Falls, Middle Prong Falls, Convergence Falls and Red Rock Falls
After more than five years of wild dashes across South Carolina, piling up the miles driving up to WNC from Charleston, fate finally intervened. In February of 2018 I got the news that in July my job would be allowing me to transfer to Greenville SC, leaving me much closer. My biggest problem now is with all the hiking, I’m getting way behind on my updates! As of 4-13-2019 I have 75 waterfalls to update.
Rough Butt Creek Falls – September 2018
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 05-17-2019
The 500 list stands at 397 down and 103 to go – I’m ambitiously projecting to be done in late August of 2019! – 500 List Completion Order
My Progress on the Kevin Adams 100 NC Waterfall Challenge stands at 96 of 100
My Progress on the Carolina Mountain Club 100 Waterfall Challenge stands at 92 of 100
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 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 includes driving and trail directions, mixed with commentary and opinions. 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.
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.
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 had a run in with one, although my story is 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.
Something to keep in mind is not all of these explorations follow a defined trail. As I get deeper into the 500 challenge, fewer hikes follow the beaten path. Quite a few follow 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. My wife Jen and daughter Alana (now 10) are my regular hiking companions but at times I venture off alone on scouting missions or 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 200+ 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 200+ 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.
My waterfalls are numbered by order of visitation. Triple Falls is listed as “001 – Triple Falls” since this is where the obsession began. Bard Falls is listed as “512 – Mitchell Lick 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.
Recent additions – Updated 04-06-2019
Adventures in Dark Prong – Coming Soon
Flat Laurel Creek – Creekwalk – Updated 10-06-2018
Solar Eclipse – 08-21-2017
High Falls Dam Release – Updated 04-16-2017
High Falls Dam Release – Updated 08-27-2018
Wildflowers – Updated 4-17-2017
Fall Color 2016 – Updated 10-28-2016
Winter Wonderland Pics – Updated 02-16-2016
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.
Many times the pictures are drawn from multiple visits. As of April 2019, I have hiked to 504 different waterfalls. Portage Left Falls bears the honor of being number 200 and the seldom seem Slick Stick Falls #300! On March 31, 2019, I visited waterfall #500, Cane Creek Falls in SC. White Owl Falls is my most visited, with in excess of a dozen visits. I have the falls listed in the order I did them but I also have them arranged by area, so if you’re planning a trip you can see what waterfalls are near each other. If you’re curious as to my favorites, I have a page dedicated to my top 10 waterfalls and top 10 waterfall hikes. I also have a page with links to my Bucket List waterfalls.
The Waterfall Links
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.
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.