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Waterfall trip


Wade schwochert
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Wade schwochert

I'm planning a hiking trip to North Carolina with my girlfriend this may, our goal is to spend 5-7 days hiking/camping all over the state with a waterfall as the destination for each day. Does anybody have any suggestions for secluded waterfalls that are a moderate-difficult hike to get to, also any that we would be able to camp over night by? I've googled it, and mostly come up with tourist attraction falls that will be swamped with people and are only a short walk to.

thanks in advance

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Mark Wetherington

Welcome, Wade!

North Carolina is a great state for checking out waterfalls. I've been to several in the area on backpacking trips and have a few recommendations.

One is Midnight Hole and Mouse Creek Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's only about 2 miles to midnight hole, which isn't a big waterfall but is a great swimming hole. Mouse Creek Falls is just a bit up the trail from there. If you wanted, you could then continue on to the Walnut Bottoms campsite if you are backpacking, but you'd need a permit to camp there.

Another option is to hike in to Abrams Falls (actually in Tennessee, but figured this was close enough) from Abrams Creek campground. This is a pretty long day hike, but it is really pretty. You could of course camp at the campground, or if you wanted to backpack you could stay at Little Bottoms (campsite #3 I think?) backcountry campsite (again, permit needed through the National Park Service) and split the trip up that way.

Hen Wallow Falls near Cosby, TN is pretty neat and you could either camp at Cosby Campground and dayhike to the falls, or visit the falls on your way to backcountry campsite #34 (permit) which is a mile or so past the waterfall. This campsite is pretty nice and has a stream tumbling through it, with some nice streamside spots to eat dinner and watch the water flow by.

Those are three options that I have done and would recommend. Let me know if you want more details on any of them. There are a ton of options for waterfalls in NC and a few books on the topic. You might stop by your local library and see if they can interlibrary loan one for you to help you plan.

There are a few more I have done that I could recommend, but all involve backpacking and not just day hiking.

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Wade schwochert

Thanks a lot mark, all three sound exactly like what i"m looking for. Ill definitely try to get my hands on one of those book, any specific one you suggest. 

We mostly go backpacking, so what were the other ones that you've done? 

Thanks again

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Mark Wetherington

You're welcome. I have never personally used any of the guidebooks to North Carolina waterfalls, but there are plenty out there. A lot of the waterfalls are easily accessible from the roads/short trails so it would take a bit of reading to find out which ones were suitable for backpacking trips.

Another TN/NC border area waterfall I have done is Old Goat Falls in the Citico Creek Wilderness. This waterfall is seldom visited and is pretty far out there, but my friend and I approached it as an out-and-back, and camped nearby, while doing a three-night backpacking trip in the area. There was a very small campsite not too far from the waterfall (upstream, we set up camp and then hiked down to the waterfall) The trail it is on, North Fork Citico Creek Trail, is a pretty rough trail, especially the last mile or so. If you're up for a real "wilderness" experience, then you might put this one on the list but otherwise skip it.

Virgin Falls is pretty amazing (it comes out of a cave, flows for a hundred feet or so, then drops 150 feet into another cave) and there are several other nearby waterfalls and several places to camp. I think you need a permit though. It is in the Virgin Falls State Natural Area in Tennessee and is pretty far from the TN/NC border but man . . . if you are looking for an amazing waterfall hike, this one is hard to beat!

I haven't been there but Ramsey Cascades in Great Smoky Mountains National Park would be another hike to research on. You could spend your whole trip in the Smokies if you wanted to and just do several 1-2 night backpacking trips to Ramsey Cascades, Hen Wallow Falls, Abrams Falls, and maybe Twentymile Cascades, too.

If you're adventurous and don't mind getting off trail, then looking at the waterfalls in Tennessee/Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee Landforms website ( http://tnlandforms.us/landforms/falls.php ) would be a good resource to use to find stuff you might have otherwise overlooked.

Here is a picture of Old Goat Falls and Virgin Falls:

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Hope this helps, I'd be happy to give you more details if any of those sound appealing.

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The Deep Creek area of the Smokies has a couple nice falls for a day hike. On the TN side of the park is Rainbow Falls (easy day hike).

If you check out Midnight Hole and Mouse Creek Falls then continue to site 36 for the night, the next day head up the Gunter Fork trail which has both a falls and a nice cascade to make a good overnight trip. If you do this, you might as well continue the loop and check out the Mt Sterling firetower. That is a classic Smokies trip for a couple nights.

Wildcat Falls in the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness (next to the Citco Wilderness) would be a good overnight destination. If you go there, you also want to check out the Hangover for some great views.

DuPont State Forest in NC is worth checking out. It was crowded the one time I was there, but there are a couple nice falls there as well. Not far from Oscar Blues in Brevard if you like beer :)

There are some falls in the Graveyard Ridge area of Shining Rock Wilderness, not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. That is also a good backpacking area.

I just stumbled on this site http://www.waterfall-picture-guide.com/ when I was looking for information on Grotto Falls in the Smokies.

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