By Katie Moosbrugger
I’m guessing the band TLC, who sing the lyrics “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls,” has never been to North Carolina because it actually makes for a really fun day and weekend trip – especially with more than 300 waterfalls to choose from within NC!
A few years ago, our family planned an overnight camping trip at Stone Mountain State Park (just up Interstate 77 towards Virginia). As soon as we set up camp, we discovered a trail nearby and hiked it for close to an hour. At the end of our hike we were unexpectedly greeted by a beautiful, pristine little waterfall. My kids were overjoyed and could not stop talking about it. They acted like they uncovered one of the earth’s greatest mysteries. It was at that moment our simple camping trip became an all-out waterfall seeking expedition, and we did just that.
Stone Mountain State Park has four waterfalls, and I think we found all of them, including little ones that are not officially mentioned on the park’s web site. The next morning we set out on another hike from right behind our tent and discovered another little waterfall. After that, we got in the car and drove down the access road to find the biggest, best fall we could find…and landed at Widow’s Creek Falls.
Not only were these falls beautiful, but the kids got to slide down them as well. The falls are actually 25’ high, but the bigger falls work their way down to smaller falls which feed to a pool that’s the perfect depth for sliders to splash into. Some older kids actually braved the bigger falls, but we corralled our kids to the lower falls which are completely safe and actually don’t bruise your rear after a trip down! Our kids rode the falls for over an hour and had a blast. This is a must-stop if you ever find yourself at Stone Mountain.
If you want to plan a week-end or week-long waterfall adventure, I recommend you visit www.NCWaterfalls.com. It’s literally a step-by-step guide to help you locate waterfalls in our area, and around NC. All you have to do is choose your adventure, and it will tell you how to get there, as well as what to look for and any changes or updates to the falls.
According to this web site, the closest falls to the Triad are these which are found at Hanging Rock State Park. You can also find these falls at Stone Mountain (like we did), or these falls in the Wilson Creek area north of Morganton, as well as these falls at South Mountain State Park, south of Morganton.
Another must-see is Sliding Rock near Hendersonville, NC. According to the website, Sliding Rock is a 50-foot natural water slide that drops you in a 7 foot deep pool of water. There are 2 observation platforms, and lifeguards on duty during the season. We’ve made this trip once before, and we’re planning to go back!
The NC Waterfalls web site says the majority of North Carolina waterfalls are concentrated in Transylvania, Jackson, Macon, Swain, and Haywood counties, but there is another big grouping of falls where the Blue Ridge Parkway runs near Mitchell, McDowell, Avery, and Burke counties. If you are planning a trip to this area to visit waterfalls, the site recommends staying in or near Brevard in Transylvania County and exploring from there. It says there are more waterfalls in this area than you could possibly visit in a week’s time, and you’ll be only a few miles from upstate South Carolina where you will find even more waterfalls.
And before you head out, don’t forget to brush up on these other hiking and camping posts we’ve run in the past. These include: Day Trip: Hanging Rock State Park, Beaching it in the Triad (at Hanging Rock State Park), Cabin Camping at Hanging Rock State Park, Day Trip Idea: Chimney Rock State Park, Day Trip Idea: Hebron Rock Colony, Tips for Hiking with Kids and Camping With Kids – What to Bring!
Have you visited any of the waterfalls mentioned above? Are there other falls that are fun and safe for the kids to slide down? Share your tips and suggestions!