Sunday, March 03, 2013

Waterfalls Around Highlands and Cashiers

One day in early February I struck out on a waterfall adventure centered around Highlands and Cashiers, NC. I used the wonderful book "North Carolina Waterfalls: A Hiking and Photography Guide" by Kevin Adams in selecting the falls to visit this day. I highly recommend this book; it is an outstanding catalog of the state's waterfalls with very good directions and hiking details, and the author also gives lots of great photography advice.

I first visited Lower Satulah Falls, viewable from an overlook on Highway 28 a few miles south of Highlands. I've traveled this stretch of road several times but have never caught this gem off in the distance!

A view across the gorge from the same overlook:

From there I drove into Highlands and then headed west on Highway 106 to visit Glen Falls. A one-mile hard-packed dirt road leads to a decent parking area. From there a downhill trail consisting mostly of well-maintained wooden steps leads to the falls; downhill isn't so bad, but coming back up is a considerably more difficult task! :-) On my way down the trail I encountered this nice vista:

There are two distinct drops to Glen Falls; this is the first:

And this is the second:

On my way back up the trail I encountered a fellow enthusiast and photographer and had a pleasant conversation with him; he mentioned a nearby waterfall that I'll have to visit on a future adventure, Rainbow Falls. From Glen Falls I continued westward on Highway 106 a short piece and enjoyed this view at an overlook:

Right down the road from that overlook is a hidden gem called Catstairs Falls right on the side of the highway. It's very easily missed if you're not looking for it, and I would imagine that in the summer when the foliage is full, it's probably about invisible.

From Highlands I traveled eastward to Cashiers, where the first order of business was to enjoy some amazing barbecue at the Carolina Smokehouse; my friend Tim and I ate there on our waterfall and foliage adventure a few months back, so eating there again was a must-do. Yum! With a full belly I headed down Highway 107 and visited Silver Run Falls. There is a sign and small parking area on 107, and a short, easy trail leads to this beauty:

If one is feeling especially adventurous and/or crazy, as I was this day, he can climb the nearly vertical wall to the left of the waterfall and then follow the creek a hundred yards or so to find Upper Silver Run Falls:

Giant icicles had formed at several locations along Highways 64 and 107.

My final planned waterfall of the day was one that I've visited a couple of times before but is always a good one to visit again - Whitewater Falls. Some sources claim that at 411 feet it is the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It's an easy one to visit, with a nice parking area (though there is a $2 parking fee) and a short, paved path leading to the observation area.

Whitewater was my last planned waterfall, but I passed by one more little one right on the side of Highway 130 just south of the state line; it doesn't have a name that I can find.

I was done for the day and began heading back toward Columbia, and as I was driving down Highway 130 just north of Seneca, I spied an old mill off in the distance, so I took the next turn and worked my way over to it. It turned out to be the Newry Mill, built in 1893; along with it is a mill store and post office next door, all surrounded by a small mill village. I got some suspicious stares from a couple of the locals, but a kid on a bicycle and a dog both greeted me warmly. Here's a video a fellow made while walking around inside the mill. Very cool and a bit creepy!

Here is my waterfalls visited map focusing on the location of these waterfalls. I love waterfalls, and this was a fantastic day of adventuring! I can't wait for the next one!


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