Located near Old Fort, North Carolina, only 26 miles east of Asheville, the 100-foot tall Catawba Falls highlights the scenic beauty of the Pisgah National Forest. Following a well maintained trail along a mossy riverbed on the Catawba River, the sounds of rushing water over many small cascades accompany visitors on this slightly uphill, family-friendly 2.5 mile out and back hike.
This is a popular tourist destination with a large parking lot, restrooms and an informational placard at the trailhead. Accordingly, visitors should plan upon an early arrival if wishing to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, absent crowds – mine was the second car parked onsite, though an estimated 80 vehicles were observed at the time of my departure.
Under a shaded forest canopy, hikers will cross the river on two footbridges and encounter remnants of an early 1900’s hydroelectric dam…
There are also several interesting side trails leading to picturesque spots aside Catawba River…
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Lower Catawba Falls
If you’d like to extend your hiking adventure by undertaking a strenuous and difficult climb, another 1/2 mile trek leads to the beautiful Upper Catawba Falls. Warning: this is potentially a dangerous area if you’re not skilled at climbing rocks and steep mountainsides, and hikers must ascend a 25-foot rock face using a secured rope for assistance. Here are a few photographs along the trail…
Upper Catawba Falls
The sound of falling water continued to intensify, until, finally, I could see Upper Catawba Falls through the trees! Standing approx. 60-feet tall, this isolated, picturesque waterfall features a broad plunge pool with large rocks scattered to the side, useful as seating. With a snack and water, I enjoyed the sights & sounds of this setting, uninterrupted over the course of my 45-minute stay.
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