After visiting Six Flags near Atlanta, and spending one morning in Chattanooga
at the Tennessee Aquarium, we drove into the region of North Carolina known as
"Waterfall Country". There are several hundred in the area covered by a handful
of counties, but here we present our favorites (of those we visited).
Starting with this one right here. This is one of those waterfalls
that is right next to the road, so you know if you're even a slightly experienced
waterfall hunter, that it loses serious points from the start. Waterfalls
are best experienced in solitude, preferably after a decent hike, even
more preferably after a decent hike along an unmarked or non-existent trail.
But enough philosophizing, this here is Dry Falls, which as you can
see, isn't. Not only is it right next to the road but the semi-paved
walk to the falls is under construction, so this is the best picture we
Our next stop was quite a distance away. We wanted to make sure to see this
one with plenty of daylight left. This is Whitewater Falls, and unlike
Dry Falls it lives up to its name. There is plenty of water, it is
white, and there is more than one fall, so it actually deserves the plural
form 'falls'. In light of this, we suggest renaming Dry Falls to Wet
Fall. So anyway, this series of cascades is a good distance away
in this picture but that's really the only way to get it all in one shot.
Incidentally, this is also one of the highest falls in the eastern US,
if you give them benefit of the doubt and let them measure the total drop.
It's also a decent (but paved) hike.
Now we move on to Horsepasture Creek. One of the loveliest creeks anywhere.
Not only does it have more waterfalls than we can possibly include here,
it also includes kayakable class IV-V rapids. The downside, which
is also the upside, is that it's fairly difficult to get to. There
aren't really any official paths to it (that we know of), but if you can
avoid the unfriendly property owners, it's highly scenic. This is
Drift Falls, once known as one of the finest swimming holes anywhere.
Not just that, all 70 feet (21 m) of it is swimmable. Or rather,
slideable. If you've got a fair bit of courage and dexterity anyway.
Alas, these days it is cordoned off by the local officials, who were apparently
tired of having to rescue people who have courage but not dexterity.
Now we feature Turtleback Falls, which isn't nearly as high as Drift Falls, but
as you can see, still swimmable for the intrepid. We don't know who
this is, but he provides a nice sense of scale. Furthermore we should
point out that (a) the water was very very cold, and (b) his dog refused
to go over the falls with him.
Now we feature the next waterfall down from Turtleback Falls along Horsepasture
Creek, which we probably do not need to point out is not even remotely swimmable.
Furthermore, David is not providing a very good sense of scale here either.
This falls may or may not have a name, as you can see from the picture,
there is a railing of sorts at this overlook, but there isn't much of a
trail to get to the railing. This is as far as we wandered down Horsepasture
Creek as it was getting dark and we weren't entirely sure how to get
back to the car which we had just sort of abandoned alongside a road anyway,
and which still didn't have a license plate (that's another story).
We did find the car, and we found a hotel and we had a lovely dinner of
Burger King (it was the only thing still open) while we watched news crews
file reports on the local FBI manhunt from the parking lot of the hotel.
The next day we rented ourselves a 2-person raft and set off down the relatively
minor whitewater of the Nantahala River. The most challenging rapid
on this section of the Nantahala is the Lesser Wesser Falls shown here
(unless you miss the take-out and go over Greater Wesser Falls a few hundred
yards downstream). Also called Nantahala Falls, it's not really much
of a falls, it more of a nice little class III rapid with a nearby viewing
area where you can throw tow-ropes to all of the paddlers who fail to complete
it inside their boats. There is a separate page related to this specifically
on Nantahala Falls. We note for the record that we had no problem with this rapid.