We really enjoyed our hike to Linville Falls last week and decided to see a few more waterfalls before we leave North Carolina. By the time we waited out the weather on Friday, it was already evening. We chose one that was very nearby: Tom's Creek Falls. The hike to Tom's Creek Falls was a one mile scenic walk through the park, with a just a few uphill switchback right before the falls.
[caption id="attachment_2009" align="alignnone" width="450"] Path to Tom's Creek Falls[/caption]
The 60 foot waterfall had a lacy effect as it fell down the rock face.
[caption id="attachment_2010" align="alignnone" width="400"] Tom's Creek Falls[/caption]
The sun was going down and we didn't have too long to linger here. We knew there would be more to come tomorrow.
Saturday morning, we drove across the parkway to Roaring Fork Falls. It was a pretty easy one mile walk to the falls. The 100 foot falls made kind of a zig-zaggy effect as it snaked down the mountain. It was beautiful in the morning light.
[caption id="attachment_2026" align="alignnone" width="400"] Roaring Forks Falls[/caption]
There were people taking pictures at the falls, so we decided to not invade their space and further explored the surrounding area a bit until they finished up. We saw what looked like a path going up a steep part of the mountain. We wondered if it was passable around the corner, so Trey climbed up a bit to scout out the situation. Once he got around the corner, he shouted out that he thought we could climb up, but wasn't sure how we would get back down. Well, we will deal with that problem when we come to it. So, we went a little higher, and higher, and higher. Sometimes on our two feet, but often having to use our hands to find holds to pull ourselves up.
[caption id="attachment_2012" align="alignnone" width="400"] Begining of the steep climb up Roaring Fork Falls[/caption]
Once we got over the top and down again a bit, we received our reward: we were at the top of the falls all alone surrounded by beautiful green forest. We got a few pictures of the falls from above,
[caption id="attachment_2013" align="alignnone" width="450"] Looking down from Roaring Forks Falls[/caption]
then sat down on a large fallen log to soak in our surroundings.
[caption id="attachment_2014" align="alignnone" width="450"] Enjoying a rest at the top of Roaring Forks Falls[/caption]
After a bit of that, we had to consider how we were going to navigate our way back down the hillside. We were able to traverse the downslope without too much difficulty, though several times we had to go down backwards like descending a ladder. On our way down we met two young couples going up. They told us that they had been to these falls five or six times and never knew there was a way to the top. They said when they saw us up there, it inspired them to try it themselves. Probably the first and last time we inspire anyone with our risk-taking endeavors!
Once back at the car, we had the choice of an early lunch or another hike. We decided we could kill another hour or two on a second hike, then grab lunch. Our next destination was Crabtree Falls. Because the campground was closed, it added an additional 1/2+ mile to our hike. It looked pretty flat and wide. Shouldn't be a problem. When we arrived a the actual trailhead, we looked at the map and saw the word "strenuous" written underneath.
[caption id="attachment_2015" align="alignnone" width="450"] Wish I had gotten the "strenuous" trail description on this shot[/caption]
That caused a moment's pause, but hey, we were an inspiration! We couldn't turn back now! We were painfully aware that we were going downhill the entire time and wondered what our return trip would be like. We saw a few poor souls returning uphill. One lady didn't look like she was going to make it. The first half mile down wasn't all that bad, but the last half mile was very rocky and you had to watch where every step landed. The only time we could look around was if we stopped.
[caption id="attachment_2016" align="alignnone" width="450"] Rocky path coming down Crabtree Falls[/caption]
Once at the bottom, we were rewarded with a pretty view of the 60 foot falls and a nice place to rest. We sat on the rocks to the right of the falls and evaluated our return options.
[caption id="attachment_2017" align="alignnone" width="450"] Crabtree Falls[/caption]
At the beginning of our hike, at the primary trail head, we saw that there was a loop to and from the falls. We had chosen the shorter path down. With all the rocks along the path, we wondered if it wouldn't be better to finish the loop and not return the way we came. It couldn't be too much worse than the first part - even if it was a bit longer. From what we could see from the bottom of the falls, the first part of the way home would be a doozie: straight up the mountain on a series of very steep switchbacks. We hoped that the rest of the trip back would be a bit more level and smooth. We were mostly correct.
[caption id="attachment_2019" align="alignnone" width="400"] Part of the ascent on the return from Crabtree Falls[/caption]
We ascended quickly (in between rest stops) and then the remaining trail was moderate to easy.
[caption id="attachment_2020" align="alignnone" width="450"] The Perfect Rest Stop - Crabtree Falls trail[/caption]
At the top of the most strenuous part, there was a small cave overlooking the mountains. It was great place to catch our breath. The rest of the hike was not difficult, but we were already so tired from the first part, we still took periodic rests before getting back to the bike. Really, the only other negative was the heat and sun. There wasn't much shade on the way back and that made the trip a bit more tiring. The scenery, however was beautiful and we were glad we chose the loop rather than retracing our trip down to the falls. We found out later that we had descended and ascended about 500 feet. That was equivalent to a 40 story building.
By the time we finished the hike, it was almost 4 PM and we needed to eat. We stopped at the Mountain View Restaurant. We sat outside with a wonderful view and kept our waitress quite busy refilling our water.
[caption id="attachment_2021" align="alignnone" width="450"] View from Mountain View Restaurant[/caption]
Sunday and Monday we weighed RVs and talked to RVers most of the day. Tuesday and Wednesday impending rain kept us close to home working inside. We are in North Carolina until Saturday and we are both a bit sad to leave. It just gets more beautiful each day we are here and we know by summer time the trees will be full of leaves and the flowers along the parkway will be in full bloom. God willing we will return here again.