Waterfall Week II is here!
It’s time to take the plunge once again and examine the cascades, spouts, grottoes, hollows and other natural waterworks that are collectively known as waterfalls. In the Southern Appalachians there are a lot of waterfalls. In North Carolina alone there are probably hundreds…the Wikipedia list of just the NAMED popular falls alone is close to fifty, and this is probably fraction of the actual total statewide.
Waterfalls are popular places for hikers, sightseers, swimmers, photographers and daredevils. They are also VERY dangerous if caution is not exercised.
In addition to the physical risks, there are several other cautionary rules of thumb concerning waterfalls:
- Waterfalls in general are VERY touristy and for this reason serious hikers avoid them.
- Most of the very popular falls are popular because they are easily reached from a road, and therefore will be overrun with crowds.
- How high a waterfall is can be deceiving; how much water pours over it is far more important.
- Accurate metrics on the size of drop and volume of water that passes through most popular waterfalls are difficult to obtain, and many of the figures you see listed online are suspect.
- In fact, a lot of the data you see posted about touristy waterfalls is a murky combination of exaggeration, half-truth and outright boasting. There are about fourteen waterfalls that claim to be the tallest east of the Rockies, and depending on how you measure this, half of them might have legitimate claims.
- Many things that people sometimes call waterfalls are actually more appropriately termed cascades or cataracts.
- Don’t be misled by ANY comparisons to this one. There are many waterfalls taller than Niagra Falls, but nearly all of them are much less impressive.
- In fact, if you made a list of the best falls in the Eastern US, half of them would be in New York State.
- Almost any waterfall is VERY impressive after a good rain or in spring melt and much less impressive during dry spells.
- Contrary to the laws of hiking in general, visiting a waterfall in TERRIBLE weather might be a good idea (it’s bound to be going good and not much visited.)
- Many otherwise impressive falls can only be properly viewed from one or two places, which are in turn partially blocked by a tree or bushes.
We recently got back from hiking in Europe, and on the slopes of Mont Blanc we saw scores of STUNNING falls and cascades that put our native Appalachian Falls very much into perspective.
But with all that said, there are some very nice waterfalls in the south eastern US, and we aim to visit a passel of ‘em. This week, we’ll cover another handful of popular ones.
Last time, Ramsey Cascades in Great Smoky Mountain National Park topped our list of the best in the Southeast. But it does have some serious competition. Has it been replaced on our list? Find out soon!
This time out we’ll visit famed Whitewater Falls (one of the contenders for the “Tallest East of the Rockies” title) Looking Glass Falls and Rainbow Falls in the Gorges State Park. If we have room we may even sneak in another.
Get Ready to go BACK over the Falls! Waterfall Week Two (WWII) is here!