Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lower Cascade Falls

The second object of my visit to the park was to see Lower Cascade Falls. Once again, my information was that this was to be a very easy hike. So I figured I'd have lots of company once I got to the trail and the waterfall. However, on this I got very lucky. I think it may have been because it was later in the afternoon. I only encountered a few stragglers headed out to the parking lot as I hiked down, and when I got to Lower Cascades, only a family of three was there and they left almost as soon as I arrived. So I ended up having the place completely to myself.

As I'd heard, Lower Cascade Falls was beautiful. I've seen the other waterfalls in the park and while they all have their charm, this one is the best. It has the largest volume of water, and it seems to be the highest (although I might be wrong--I haven't seen a couple of them in several years). Because of recent rainfall, the flow was pretty good over the fall, and the quality of the water is really good--cold, clear, fast running water.

This falls has a good plunge pool at the base that would be a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. I couldn't tell how deep it is, but I suspect at least three feet or so. I'll have to go back when the weather is nice and hot and find out.

The trail down to the falls is mainly level and makes for a leisurely hike of less than half a mile. But just as you get to the falls you have to descend into a narrow gorge. Fortunately, the state of North Carolina has spent a LOT of money on a great trail and series of stairs down to the base of Lower Cascade Falls.

They have the trail going past a jutting cliff face.

This was the sight that greeted me when I arrived at the end of the trail. As I'd hoped, Lower Cascade Falls was a gorgeous place. I can understand why so many of my hiking friends got started in hiking and backpacking by going to find waterfalls.

I took off my boots and waded across the creek to get some of these shots. Although it got up into the mid-70s that day, the water was still COLD!

Self-portrait at the base of the falls. I took off my boots to get across to take this shot.

Lower Cascade Falls.

One last shot looking back.

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