NC Mountains Summer 2021: waterfalls + hikes

by | Aug 19, 2021 | Travel, USA Travel

Although this was a ‘working vacation’ in western NC, we still had plenty of time with a full weekend plus some late afternoon days to do some exploring in the late summer sun.

On Saturday, we headed north (almost in Tennessee!) to the Big Creek Trail which included Midnight Hole Falls and Mouse Creek Falls along with some extra cascades thrown in for good measure. Our friend Leah leads guided hikes and she showed us how to find salamanders and listed off all the blooms we were seeing along the trail.

Big Creek Trail cascade
cascades along Big Creek

Midnight Hole Falls
Midnight Hole Falls

Mouse Creek Falls  Big Creek Trail
Mouse Creek Falls; Leah and I on the trail

Ghost Pipe  salamander
ghost pipe flower and a little salamander

On Sunday we started out on Max Patch for gorgeous views of the surrounding area.

Max Patch

Eric @ Max Patch

bee on common milkweed

After we bid our friends goodbye, we headed to the Blue Ridge parkway for a scenic lunch. Afterwards, we decided to try to see two easily hikeable falls off Hwy 215 that we missed on a previous visit to the area.

Wildcat Falls  Bubbling Spring Falls
Wildcat Falls and Bubbling Spring Falls did not disappoint!

Rain was in the forecast for the latter part of the week, so we got a little ambitious on Monday afternoon – visiting 6 waterfalls while starting out at 3:15pm! (We rolled in the door at 8pm.)

Our first stop was Lower Falls on Sam Branch and Falls in Wash Hallow where I promptly scraped my ankle on sharp tree branch while scrambling up to the trail from the side of the road. Thankfully no blood(!), so I carried on with minimal limping.

lower falls on Sam Branch (upper)  falls in Wash Hallow

trying to get back to the road!
waaaaay more careful on the way back down!

The forest service road to Courthouse Falls was closed back in October and I was pleased to read some recent reviews that said it was back open again this summer. This made the hike much shorter (by 5+ miles!) and the resulting 1.5 mile roundtrip was relatively easy.

on the way to Courthouse Falls
The picturesque scene on the way to Courthouse Falls.

selfie @ Courthouse Falls

Our next stop was just a bit further down the road and we were pleasantly surprised by the Shoal Creek cascades behind the Living Waters property in Balsam Grove. Mill Shoals Falls and French Broad Falls are very scenic, although Eric had to take his shoes off and wade into the river for this shot!

Mill Shoals Falls and French Broad Falls

There are several more cascades along the wooden walkway trail, ending in a beautiful outcrop above Bird Rock Falls.

Eric photographing falls  Bird Rock Falls

On our last day we decided to head back to the Max Patch area to find a waterfall we hadn’t been able to find on Sunday. Falls on Little Fall Branch (aka “Spiderweb Falls” because of the hundreds of webs we walked through on the trail) was a tall, lanky waterfall with little flow but it was just us and the spiders there.

Falls on Little Fall Branch

Well, and a big log blocking the view of the falls from some angles.

Falls on Little Fall Branch

I am still working on getting these waterfalls added to the map, but you can see all the other waterfalls we’ve visited on our waterfalls page!

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)