Waterfalls worthy of a walk in the woods

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Beautiful spring weather is finally here to stay. What better way to celebrate than with a hike to a gorgeous waterfall in western North Carolina? Here are a few of my favorites in the area. (Note: All distances provided are round-trip.)

There are several waterfalls worthy of a walk in the woods right here in Polk County! Check out Great Waterfalls of North Carolina by Neil Regan for directions to Pearson’s Falls, Big Bradley Falls, and Little Bradley Falls.

Pearson’s Falls is the easiest hike, a 0.6 mile trail maintained by the Tryon Garden Club. There is a small admission fee, but it’s well worth it and highly recommended for families with small children.

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Big and Little Bradley Falls are more off-the-beaten-path and share a parking area on Holbert’s Cove Road. You might want to wear water shoes on these hikes, because you’ll probably get wet at one of the creek crossings. The Little Bradley Falls trail is 1.4 miles and leads to the base of the falls. There’s a nice swimming hole and plenty of rocks for picnicking. Big Bradley Falls is 1.8 miles in the opposite direction and should be explored with caution. I would not recommend bringing dogs or small children here. Be sure to follow the directions in Great Waterfalls of North Carolina to ensure that you take the proper trail to the overlook. From there, you can admire and photograph the falls.

Chimney Rock Park near Lake Lure offers several great trails. My favorite is Hickory Nut Falls, a 1.5-mile walk to an impressive 404 foot tall waterfall. Read all about it and the park’s other trails in Hiking North Carolina by Randy Johnson. Note that park admission is required to access the trails but it also includes much more. Make a day of it by exploring the cute shops and yummy restaurants in town along the Broad River.

Hiking Waterfalls in North Carolina by Melissa Watson details two of my go-to waterfall hikes in DuPont State Forest. Hooker Falls is an easy 0.8-mile hike to an inviting swimming hole beneath the falls. This is a great place to bring the family for a picnic. The Triple Falls trail is one mile long. There is an overlook or you can access the base of the falls via a long staircase. The “Hunger Games” movie was filmed here as well. See if you can recognize where Katniss found Peeta hiding under leaves on a rock in the river! Continue on the Triple Falls trail to reach High Falls, which is another 2.4 miles round-trip and more difficult.

I hope to see some of you on the trails this spring. Summer is also a great time for waterfall hikes if you wear your swimsuit. There is so much beauty to explore in our area; it would be a shame not to take advantage of the great outdoors!

Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian at Polk County Public Library. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit www.polklibrary.org or call 828-894-8721.