Lower Whitewater Falls in March 2009
I had the chance to visit Lower Whitewater Falls over nine years ago, so some of my recollections may be a bit rusty. I had been seeing waterfalls in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. I had first stopped at Upper Whitewater Falls, which is on the same river, but across the border in North Carolina. (When I visited the area in March 2017, the Upper Whitewater Falls area was closed due to forest fire damage.)
Upper Whitewater Falls was very easy to visit, whereas seeing Lower Whitewater Falls required a bit more effort. At that time, I would hike to a lot of waterfalls in a day, sometimes going 13 or 14 miles. Essentially, I would wear myself out! So I got to Lower Whitewater Falls, and the hike seemed more strenuous than I expected. There were some portions where I’d climb a bit uphill and then downhill, and then repeat the process. That kind of hiking can take a bit of a toll, even though it may not be as problematic as having to climb consistently uphill. At the time, I also didn’t like to bring as much water as needed on hikes, and that made me very thirsty after arriving back at the car. (I’ve learned some lessons over the years.)
But luckily, Lower Whitewater Falls is a beautiful waterfall. At 200′, it’s an impressive drop. While you’re not extremely close (because it’s a pretty big drop), you’ll still get more than adequate views of the falls.
- To get to the falls, you want to get to the border of North Carolina and South Carolina along NC-281/SC-130.
- The road that leads to the falls is right past the border on the South Carolina side. You’ll be looking for Bad Creek Road, which will be on your left if you’re heading south.
- Turn onto Bad Creek Road. You’ll pass through a gate for Duke Energy, and it’s fine to go through.
- Drive along Bad Creek Road to the trail head for the falls.
Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 3.8 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Lower Whitewater Falls?
I first visited Iceland five years ago, and decided I liked it so much I had to take my family. So we packed up and headed to Iceland about three weeks ago. I’m just now getting to write about one of the first waterfalls I saw on this second trip.
Urriðafoss has the distinction of being the waterfall with the highest volume in Iceland. I can tell it’s a busy waterfall, but Gullfoss, Dettifoss, and Selfoss seem pretty voluminous too! Gullfoss, Dettifoss, and Selfoss are much much taller, though, so you’ll be fighting crowds at these others, especially Gulffoss.
To get to Urriðafoss, you have to drive down a gravel road for a short distance, and you can do that in any vehicle. There were a few other cars when we arrived, and a number of people were fishing near the falls. It was a beautiful view to start out the day of travels. I had low expectations because it isn’t particularly tall, but I still found it to be beautiful. And you won’t be surrounded by hundreds of other people.
- From the city of Sellfoss, drive about 10 miles to Urriðafossvegur, which will be on your right. There will be a sign for the falls.
- Turn right onto Urriðafossvegur, and drive about 1 mile along the gravel road. There will be a sharp left turn toward the parking are for the falls.
- The hike to the falls is very short, and you can see the falls from the parking area.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: Roadside (or 0.2 miles round-trip)
Urriðafoss in June 2017
Where in the World is Urriðafoss?
Johnston Canyon is one of the busier areas in Banff National Park. When I visited on mid-August day, there were hundreds of people along the trail. (People were trying to walk down the rather narrow trail with strollers, and it wasn’t working particularly well.) The crowds disperse as you get further along the trail. There are still some people by the time you reach Upper Johnston Canyon Falls, but it’s a little less hectic.
I don’t fully recall, but it appears you can continue along this trail to see some other drops in the canyon. In this case, I did, and found what I called “Upper” Upper Johnston Canyon Falls. It’s not as tall as the Upper or Lower Falls, but it’s still beautiful none-the-less.
- This isn’t a particularly difficult set of waterfalls to find, with one minor hitch. The trail head is along of the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A). If you’re driving along the Transcanadian Highway 1, there are limited entrances/connections onto 1A. In order to find the falls, you can either enter onto 1A a few miles after leaving Banff. You will be heading west if you take this exit, and the trail head will be on your right after driving for a while. (You can also exit at the junction of Transcanadian Highway 1 and Alberta 93. Instead of heading south, though, head north for a short distance. Then turn right and drive for 6.4 km. The parking area will be on your left.)
- I mention a parking area, but if I remember correctly, that parking area was completely full. There were at least a hundred or so cars (possibly more) parked on the sides of 1A, so that’s where I parked. It added a little bit longer to the walk, but it wasn’t much.
Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate, though strollers are honestly too big for the trail)
Distance of Hike: 3.0 miles round trip
“Upper” Upper Johnston Canyon Falls
Where in the World is “Upper” Upper Johnston Canyon Falls?
I decided to visit Moab, Utah to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. In the process, I looked to see if there were any waterfalls in the vicinity. It just happens there’s a waterfall right outside of Moab on Mill Creek. I wasn’t feeling particularly great earlier in the day today (the elevation wreaks havoc on my sinuses), but I felt better later in the evening, and set off to find Mill Creek Falls.
The drive to the trail head is pretty easy, and the hike to the falls isn’t wildly complicated either. You will have to cross Mill Creek three or four times to get to the falls. I’m someone who doesn’t like to get particularly wet, but the water was warm and very clean. I had no problem wading through the creek. (The first time you’ll likely enter the water may not be necessary, but it’s easier than trying to stay on the slippery rocks above.) And while you have to cross the creek a few times, you’re rewarded with very little elevation gain, if any.
Once you get to the falls, you’re rewarded with the 10-15′ Mill Creek Falls. There might be another waterfall up above, but I didn’t have the boundless energy to explore even further. I was content with finding a beautiful little waterfall without much effort.
- As you’re driving along Main Street (US-191) in Moab, you can turn on many of the streets running perpendicular to arrive at the falls. Heading south on US-191, I turned left onto E 100 S.
- I drove along E 100 S until it ended, and then turned right onto N 400 E (also Fourth E St).
- I then drove until I got to E Mill Creek Drive, and turned left. (You do have to end up on this road.)
- Drive along E Mill Creek Drive. There will be a point where you have to turn right to continue on E Mill Creek Drive. (Otherwise, if you continue straight, you will be on Sand Flats Road.)
- After driving on E Mill Creek Drive for a short ways, turn left on Powerhouse Lane. Continue on Powerhouse Lane until you reach the parking area for the trail head.
- Follow the trail to the falls. It’s pretty hard to get lost.
*From what I’ve read, this waterfall used to be unknown to most tourists…now it’s rather busy. Make sure you respect the land and clean up anything you take in. It’s free to visit right now…let’s ensure it stays that way.
Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate, there’s one spot that’s difficult, I found it easier to wade in the stream)
Length of Hike: 2 miles round-trip
Mill Creek Falls in June 2017
Where in the World is Mill Creek Falls?
Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls in February 2016
As I enter in to Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Townsend entrance, my plan is to go see Meigs Falls. It seems like it should be an easy-to-view waterfall in the park, and I can enjoy the beauty that is the Smoky Mountains while I’m there.
Meigs Falls was easy to view, though it’s not a waterfall you can get close to. As I was driving in, though, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed another waterfall. On the way out of the park, I decided to see if I could pull over and get a better glimpse of the falls. Luckily, there was adequate gravel parking off of the road, and I was able to get some shots of Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls. At the time, I don’t think I knew the name of the falls. It wasn’t until I got home and looked at Google Maps that I discovered it was Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls. If I had looked at Google Maps, I would have also noticed Cane Creek Falls, Mannis Branch Falls, Spruce Flats Falls, and Meadow Branch Cascades. (This site gives a pretty good overview of some of the falls in the vicinity.)
- I took US-321 from Knoxville into the park. Once you’re on the Lamar Alexander Parkway, it’s pretty difficult to miss the entrance. There are signs everywhere!
- After entering the park, about a mile or so in, you’ll have a choice to take a right toward Cades Cove (which will lead to a number of waterfalls, including Abrams Falls) or a left toward the other park entrance and Gaitlinburg.
- Take a left, and drive about 0.6 miles, where you’ll notice Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls on your right. (The parking area was on the left.)
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: roadside
Where in the World is Whiteoak Flats Branch Falls?
Pennyweight Falls in March 2016
Pennyweight Falls isn’t one of those waterfalls I set out to find. I had visited a friend in northern California, and he mentioned that there were a waterfall not far from him. As I was driving down Iowa Hill Road, which is relatively steep and a bit narrow at times, I noticed a waterfall off to the corner of my eye. I had to be careful, as sometimes I get a bit distracted by waterfalls, so I kept going, and then turned around. The road continues on for a ways, but I just wanted to find these waterfalls.
At the bottom of the road as you cross a bridge over the North Fork of the American River, you can see Slaughter Ravine Falls. It’s the more obvious of the two falls. Pennyweight Falls is the waterfall off to the side, and to view the falls better, you have to pull off to the side of the curvy road. Luckily, there was enough room to pull off. Another car was parked, and it seemed there might be some trail you could follow. I decided to get a shot of Pennyweight Falls, and continue on my journey. It wasn’t until later that I found out I had viewed a recorded waterfall.
- From I-80, take exit 135. (I was heading north on I-80.)
- You’ll take a right on Canyon Way. (It’s a very short distance…could be a bit confusing.)
- Continue on Canyon Way to Iowa Hill Road. Turn left onto Iowa Hill Road.
- Follow Iowa Hill Road down to the Iowa Hill Road Bridge (with Mineral Bar on the other side of the river). Pennyweight Falls can be viewed from the last “sharp” curve before you reach the bridge.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: roadside
Where in the World is Pennyweight Falls?
Upper Emerald Pool Falls in May 2015
A bit over two years ago, I had the chance to visit Zion National Park, and it’s an amazingly beautiful national park. I’d highly recommend a visit. There are a number of waterfalls in the park, though none of them are particularly voluminous.
The Emerald Pools are more likely visited for the pools below the falls, but I was more interested in the falls themselves. The first waterfall you’ll come across is Lower Emerald Pool Falls. This one had some water flowing, and it had rained early in the day, so it was probably a good time to visit. The hike to the lower pools is about 0.6 miles one-way, and is fairly easy.
The hike to the upper falls is about 1.5 miles one-way, and is a bit steeper. I didn’t find it to be terribly difficult, but I would suggest bringing some water and food along so that you’re not worn out hiking there and back. As you can see from the picture, there wasn’t a significant amount of water flowing over the falls. It is a tall waterfall, though. I did find the colors of the rock around the falls to be really stunning. You can see a lot of minerals leaching out of the rock, which causes some of the black coloring.
- This is a unique one, as you really don’t have to do much except arrive in the city of Springdale, unless you are really determined to drive into the park. Springdale is the city directly outside of Zion National Park, and there is shuttle service to the park. (I didn’t realize how CLOSE Springdale is…somebody suggested I stay there, and I thought I was going to be far away. I was very wrong. You can see many features of the park from the city.)
- The Springdale shuttle system will take you to the pedestrian entrance to the park (from March to October). From there, you pay the entrance fee to enter the park. It’s $12 per person or $25 per vehicle. Pay the vehicle price if you plan on driving through the park, as I did when I wanted to head to Bryce Canyon NP.)
- Hop on the Zion shuttles (which are on the opposite side of the visitor’s center from the Springdale shuttle). I honestly enjoyed not having to drive the narrow roads!
- Hop off at the stop for Zion Lodge. The automated announcements on the bus will make it very clear this is where to exit for the Emerald Pools.
- Follow the signs toward the trail head, which is across the road from the lodge. From there, it’s a relatively simple hike to the Lower Emerald Pool Falls. It’s a more moderate hike to the upper falls.
Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Distance of Hike: 1.5 miles one-way
Where in the World is Upper Emerald Pool Falls?