The main drop of Peavine Falls you’ll find
This past weekend, I flew into Birmingham, Alabama to spend some time with some friends. I had a few hours to go and find a waterfall or two, and decided that Peavine Falls would be the closest, simplest option. (I say that when I really had no clue what level of difficulty the hike to Peavine Falls would be.)
Oak Mountain State Park is a beautiful park outside of Birmingham. The views from the outlook along the way to the falls are spectacular. Once you arrive at the parking area for the falls, you’ll have an enjoyable hike to a larger-than-expected waterfall, Peavine Falls. In mid-April, the falls were flowing pretty well. I can imagine that as the summer progresses, that these falls might have a lower volume of water.
The hike from the designated parking area is rather short, though as you approach the falls, it can get slightly confusing. You’ll still end up at the falls, and there are many ways to reach the base. But there are almost too many ways, and too many signs direct you back to parking. We followed one of these signs, only to end up at another drop of Peavine Falls. So…if you have a few hours to explore, you’ll find more than one drop to the falls! (Finding these other drops likely means you’re headed further downhill, and you’ll need to head back uphill to get back to the parking area.)
- You’ll want to get on I-65 south of Birmingham. Take exit 246 from I-65 (signed as Cahaba Valley Road).
- Turn right onto AL-119 South (Cahaba Valley Road).
- Very quickly after turning right, you’ll turn left onto Oak Mountain Park Road.
- Continue on Oak Mountain Park Road to the intersection with John Findlay Dr. Turn left onto John Findlay Dr.
- Continue on John Findlay Dr for 2.6 miles.
- Turn right onto Terrace Drive. Drive along this road until you reach the end of the road (essentially), which will be the parking area for Peavine Falls.
- Follow the blue or white blazed trails to the falls.
Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip
A drop downstream that I wasn’t expecting to find
Where in the World is Peavine Falls?
One of the smaller ephemeral waterfalls in the Hemlock Cliffs (March 2014)
I visited Hemlock Cliffs a bit over two years ago on a very rainy day. As I mentioned in posts about Hemlock Cliffs Falls #1 and Hemlock Cliffs Falls #2, this area doesn’t always have amazing waterfalls… But after it rains, they’re amazing. Out of the four waterfalls I “visited” in Hemlock Cliffs, I would say 3 of those were very impressive. This fourth one probably wouldn’t be classified as a waterfall by some, but I decided there was enough water flowing over it to enter it into the waterfall record.
It’s a beautiful hike whether it’s raining or not, as the cliffs are stunning. But I would definitely hope for rain, as if it does, you’re in for a treat.
- From I-64, take exit 86, and head north along IN-237 (aka Main Street).
- After just a few miles, turn left onto Union Chapel Road and drive 2.6 miles.
- Continue along County Road 8, which was Union Chapel, but changes to Hatfield Road. (There’s a veer to the right as the road changes names.)
- Continue along Hatfield Road until you reach the National Forest Service Road to the Hemlock Cliffs. The signage along the way is great, so just keep looking for “Hemlock Cliffs”. The NFS is narrow and leads to a parking area.
- From the parking area, you can head in two directions, as the trail forms a loop. You’ll see both falls along the way.
Accessibility: 7/10 (easier when dry, but not as exciting)
Hike: 1 mile (round trip)
Where in the World is Hemlock Cliffs Side-Falls?
Ohiopyle Falls is an example of a waterfall that can end up looking less exciting when there’s more water. For many waterfalls, the higher the water levels, the bigger the rush. But for a few, the higher water levels make those waterfalls look smaller.
I visited Ohiopyle Falls in mid-April 2015. The snow was mostly melted, but this still led to high water levels. Because of that, the falls look like they’re only a few feet tall, when at lower levels, the drop approaches 20′. The waterfall is wide, so it is still powerful, but it’s visual impression is lessened. And it doesn’t help that another waterfall nearby, Cucumber Falls, is taller and more interesting to view (at least I thought so). Ohiopyle’s one major redeeming quality is that it’s wildly easy to visit. Because it’s found on a larger river, a short walk of only 100-200′ is required to view the falls. The area around the falls is handicapped accessible. I would suggest that if you’re going to visit the falls, visit when it hasn’t rained as much or later in the season.
- There are multiple ways to arrive at the falls, so I’ll list the least complicated option. Drive along US-40. US-40 forms somewhat of a loop around the city of Uniontown, and you’d be heading east along US-40 if you started near Uniontown.
- In the town of Farmington, turn north onto PA-381. Drive for a few miles along PA-381 toward Ohiopyle State Park. The road passes through the park and town, so once you enter Ohiopyle, you just need to find the visitor’s center.
- From there, take a short walk to the falls. There are multiple viewing areas.
Height: 20′ at low flow
Hike: 0.1 miles at most
Where in the World is Ohiopyle Falls?: map
Ohiopyle Falls in April 2015
Sempervirens Falls in April 2016
I like to head out to California for short trips, and San Francisco is one of the best places to start a journey. There are so many different things to be viewed in the area. There are a number of waterfalls in the area, but they’re spread out in all different directions. (Check out Mountain View Falls, Alamere Falls, and McWay Falls as examples.) In Big Basin Redwood State Park south of San Francisco, there are a few waterfalls that require significant hikes to arrive at (Berry Creek Falls and Silver Falls). I didn’t hike to those falls since I had no wish to go that far. So instead I hiked to Sempervirens Falls.
I tend to get a late start (not a morning person), so when I arrived at Big Basin SP, parking was at a minimum for a beautiful Saturday in April. Parking is found along Escape Road, and I kept driving. The cars were parked alongside, so I just kept going. I found ample parking at the end of Escape Road, and realized that it would be easier to take a completely different path than I had originally planned.
At the end of Escape Road, I headed north past the fence where Escape Road officially “ends”, though it continues as a walking path. After a few hundred feet, I took a sharp right onto the Sequoia Trail. I continued along this path, crossing CA-236. The Sequoia Trail continues downhill to the falls (which are to your right as your reach Sky Meadow Road. The most difficult portion of the hike is the uphill climb on the return.
I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to see Sempervirens Falls, though the surrounding redwoods make up for the smaller than expected waterfall. It’s at most 20′ tall, and is rather narrow. Still, enjoy the scenery!
- From CA-9, head in the general direction of CA-236. (CA-236 forms a loop so that you can connect from the north or south along CA-9.)
- CA-236 loops through Big Basin Redwood State Park. It’s a rather narrow road.
- Pay the entrance fee, and then find parking. If you find parking close to the entrance, you can follow the Sequoia Trail to the falls by heading north. Since I found parking as described above, I found the Sequoia Trail by the opposite direction.
Accessibility: 6/10 (steep uphill climb on the way back)
Hike: ~2 miles round trip
Where in the World is Sempervirens Falls?: map
I have known about some of the waterfalls in Nebraska for a while, but haven’t had the chance to visit them. One of the reasons is that they’re relatively isolated. I travel a lot of fun by flying, and the nearest commercial airports to these waterfalls are over 140 miles away (North Platte or Pierre). And they’re served by smaller airlines, so it’s not as easy to arrive. When I decided to visit the Black Hills in South Dakota, I looked at the map and realized Rapid City’s airport wasn’t much further away. I extended my trip to be able to visit the Black Hills and some of Nebraska’s waterfalls.
Even then, it’s still a long drive. Valentine is the epicenter of these waterfalls. Once you arrive, it’s still a longer drive to the waterfalls. Snake River Falls is 20 miles or more southwest of Valentine. I was tired of driving already, but it was definitely worth it. Snake River Falls is considered to be the Nebraska waterfall with the most volume, and when I visited a few days ago in early May, this was very obvious. Recent rains and possible snow melt created a wildly impressive waterfall. In searching for info about this waterfall, I saw images of people fishing in the river. That would not have been possible on the day I visited. So while it’s not a particularly tall waterfall (the tallest in Nebraska is Smith Falls), it’s definitely a big waterfall.
Now that you know about it, you just need to find it. As I had read somewhere else, there is absolutely no sign along the main road (NE-97) that would indicate you’re approaching a waterfall. My best advice would be to type in Snake River Falls into Google Maps on your smartphone and have that direct you to the dirt road that leads to the falls. I’m not even sure there’s a name for the road? Realize that this waterfall is on private property of the Snake Falls Sportsmen’s Club. There is a $1 per person fee, which is worth it.
- From Valentine, at the intersection of US-20 and NE-97, head south along NE-97 for 22.2 miles.
- Look for an unmarked dirt road to your right. Turn right, and follow this for 1 mile. If you have the right road, you should end up at the Snake Falls Sportmen’s Club. Park there and pay the $1 per person fee in the mailbox.
- Take the short hike to the falls. Be careful! The rock here is very soft and I couold imagine it being rather slippery. To get to the base of the falls, you have to head downhill. The path are relatively obvious, but I had to hold on to rocks at some points to ensure my safety.
Accessibility: 7/10 (slippery rock downhill)
Hike: 0.3 miles round trip
Where in the World is Snake River Falls?: map
Snake River Falls in May 2016
One of the struggles with waterfalls isn’t necessarily finding the waterfall…It’s that you’ve found a waterfall, and yet there might not be an appropriate place to stop and capture the waterfall with your camera. There have been many times I have passed smaller waterfalls (and a few taller waterfalls) because there was absolutely no way to stop.
Iceland has so many waterfalls that you might become numb to them (though I didn’t after a week). And as you’re driving along a gravel road in what is honestly the middle of nowhere, you are likely to come upon a waterfall. On of the most unique roads I was on was Road 939. It’s by no means the worst road I’ve been on, but it also made my stress levels go up just a bit. And yet…the waterfalls help those levels go down. I’ve already recorded one unnamed waterfall (which I later found out had a name): Hænubrekkufoss, and the clearly named waterfall: Folaldafoss. Both waterfalls are stunningly beautiful, surrounding by an almost bleak landscape. As I look at this waterfall I’m describing now, I realize that in many other places, this would be a noted destination…and yet in Iceland, it’s just another waterfall in a remote location. There’s something honestly fascinating to me about that!
- This is much easier to find that one might expect. If you’re headed along the Ring Road, you may end up deciding to take Route 939 anyway, as you have two unpaved options ahead. It is north of Höfn, but south of Egilsstaðir.
- The junction of the Ring Road and Route 939 shouldn’t be that difficult to find. If you are headed from Höfn, it would be a left turn onto 939 heading generally north. This waterfall is found along the left side if headed north, though I really can’t give any more specifics since I don’t know the specifics!
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy, the falls can be seen from the road)
One of the waterfalls found on Road 939 in Iceland (June 2012)
Where in the World is Waterfall on Road 939?
I was driving along Kauai’s northern shore hoping I might be able to find some waterfalls. One of the books I was using mentions a few different falls, but I honestly couldn’t find any safe way to stop at most of them. I knew that Queen’s Bath Falls existed, and so I decided to search for that instead (since it seemed to be an easier stop than some other falls).
After driving and finding the parking area (which was almost full, even on this moderately rainy day), I set off to to the falls. I found the hike to be very enjoyable. Along the way, you pass by a few other drops along the creek that turns into Queen’s Bath Falls. Once you arrive at the falls, it is really a beautiful view. The falls are headed into the Pacific Ocean, though it doesn’t look like it because there’s a cove of sorts that the water falls into. You get an awesome view of the ocean, the shoreline, and the falls. When I visited, there were a number of turtles in that cove, and it was awesome to watch them.
As you approach the ocean, I would suggest being cautious and careful. I didn’t find it to be particularly dangerous, but I could see how not being careful could lead to some issues. At the right time, it appears you can swim/bathe in the pool that’s formed near the falls. When I was there, the waves would have made that wildly impossible to do, so I didn’t even think twice about it. Be careful!
- Follow HI-56 north along the shoreline. Enter the town of Princeville.
- In the town of Princeville, turn right along Ka Haku Road (if you were headed north).
- Drive along Ka Haku Road past some different condo/resort areas.
- Turn right onto Punahele Road. This is a road that forms a loop.
- Continue along Punahele Road to where it turns into Kapiolani Loop. You will see a dirt parking area to your left, enough for maybe 8 or 9 cars. You should not be parking in front of any houses/condos.
- From there, you should see a trail head at the right side of the parking lot. It’s a pretty easy trail to follow once you’ve found it.
Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Distance of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip
Height: ~15′ per drop (would depend on tides)
Where in the World is Queen’s Bath Falls?: map
Queen’s Bath Falls in July 2015