Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dill Falls

I spent the day in North Carolina looking for waterfalls from a map I had purchased online, and I'm pleased to report the directions were spot on. The Brevard area features many waterfalls, some advertised better than others. I passed through Brevard and traveled west on highway 64 to the intersection of NC 215 which is known as Parkway Road. NC 215 is one of my favorite places on Earth, I believe there are at least 20 or more falls along this route.
A distant shot of Dill Falls

In a previous blog post, I had tried to visit Dill Falls and was crushed to find the gate locked only to be opened the next day! Today it was first on my list, and thankfully the gate was open! The road branches at two miles in and the final mile is a narrow gravel road with no room to pass that dead ends at the parking area for Dill Falls. I've always found it funny that there are literally no signs, advertising, or giving directions to most of the falls here. The trail from the parking lot is fairly obvious, in case you have no sense of direction, take the one that goes downhill. In a few minutes you can hear the falls and you arrive at the 80ft high Dill Falls. I was really impressed with the falls and spent a few minutes taking it in before taking some photos. I had a long day ahead of me so I hurried back to the parking area and took the upper trail in search of Upper Dill Falls. I found it, but there wasn't a trail to the base and it required scrambling down the bank but I made it with little trouble.
Upper Dill Falls, I tried a different setting on the camera here.
After a few shots of Upper Dill Falls, I headed back to the truck and on to the top of 215 and the intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had seen the Devil's Courthouse overlook on a visit a few weeks ago but did not go to the top because my hiking partners were tired, so today I hiked the thirty minute trail to the summit. It has been cold recently and there was snow on the ground as I made my way up the trail which is a little surprising because it is almost May. At the top of the courthouse you can see hell and half of Georgia...literally. The park service installed a compass that indicates what mountain range you are looking at and 33 miles away is Rabun Bald in Georgia!
looking off the trail to the summit.
I thought this was really neat, and helpful
Waynesville side of the parkway
to the right is 215 coming up the mountain
a fall here, and it's a recovery not a rescue
From the Devil's Courthouse I ventured down the backside of 215 which eventually arrives in Waynesville, NC. Only a mile down the road, I arrived at the parking area for Wildcat Falls, it's a small pull off, again with no signs. It's a mile hike to this 60ft sliding cascade and totally worth it. The trail follows an old railroad grade and is easy and pleasant, a small concrete bridge even crosses at the base of the falls!
cascades along the way to Wildcat Falls
Wildcat Falls
My next stop was only a mile down the road, just past the pull off for Bubbling Branch Cascades, there is a pull off that doesn't appear to have anything worth checking out. I got out of my truck and could hear the sound of a pretty loud waterfall, I just couldn't see it. Thick underbrush and a steep bank must deter most hikers but not me, I found a decent place to climb down the bank next to a corrugated pipe coming from under the road and waded through some weeds before arriving at a 20ft cliff above the creek. I was able to use the laurel to grip my way across to a nice older tree with a root system that worked like stair steps to the creek level.
15ft above the creek bed
this may not look like stairs, but it worked pretty well
unnamed 35ft waterfall, I called it death wish falls.
determination to get a good picture. water was just above freezing.
The waterfall is on a tributary on the opposite side of the main creek so I had to rock hop over and wade a small pool to get a good pic! I was pleased I was able to make it and get a good picture, I like a challenge and this one was definitely up there. I haven't been able to find a name for this falls online either, and it wasn't on my waterfall map of NC so I called it Death Wish Falls.

After huffing and puffing my way back up the cliff and bank to my truck I rested for a minute regrouping by looking over the map, I traveled on down to my final stop on 215 for the day which was Sam Branch Falls and Wash Hollow Falls. The trail again follows an old railroad grade and was a nice change of pace from the previous falls. When you arrive at Sam Branch Falls you have to cross the falls midway up to get to the tributary that Wash Hollow Falls are on. I didn't really like Sam Branch Falls. They are probably a combined 60-70ft but they are in four segments of drops. A fall in the creek crossing could be fatal because the two lower drops are the highest. I made it safely across and literally within a minutes walk, I arrived at Wash Hollow Falls. They are a low flow creek but the falls are high and they flow across a beautiful swirled rock pattern that really is eye catching.
NC 215 is really curvy, this is the parking area for Sam Branch/Wash Hollow
Upper part of Sam Branch Falls, trees have fell over the winter months ruining the beauty.
lower section of the falls, it's pretty far down!
icicles near Wash Hollow Falls
Wash Hollow Falls

that's dr office quality
I realized that it was still early in the day so I decided to take the scenic route back toward home on the Blue Ridge Parkway and down through Brevard. Recently the movie The Hunger Games was filmed near Brevard in DuPont State Forest and I decided to go by and see if it had changed one of my favorite hiking spots any. It was more crowded than usual and the people who were there were not the typical hikers I encounter. I heard several people make reference to the movie and I noticed the trails have been upgraded but they also have closed a lot of what I loved about the park. The access trails to the base of High Falls had been closed by the park service cutting numerous trees over the trail and the Triple Falls trail had trees cut blocking it as well trying to prevent people from climbing next to the falls. It's nice that the park got some money and recognition but they shouldn't fix something that isn't broke. DuPont houses one of the nicest collections of waterfalls in all of North Carolina, and no matter how bad they try to screw it up, I will still visit here at least a couple times a year. Enjoy the photos and until next time...happy trails!
Looking Glass Rock from the parkway
snow showers!
High Falls in Dupont State Forest
base of High Falls, I had to go off trail for this picture
lower section of Triple Falls
middle section of Triple Falls
PS- I did not visit the upper section of Triple Falls due to a group of about 14 movie buffs recreating scenes and being in the way of my photos. DuPont also has Hooker, Bridal Veil, Grassy Creek, and Wintergreen Falls. I will feature an entire blog on the park at a later date. **Last of the Mohicans was filmed at Hooker and Bridal Veil Falls (scene of canoe going over falls and behind the falls respectively)

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