Brekkefossen, Norway

Brekkefossen

Brekkefossen in May 2015

Norway has many waterfalls, and a great place to start your journey to find waterfalls is Bergen. I flew into Bergen, stayed a few days there, and then started my waterfall hunting. (Well…I had seen some waterfalls on a cruise, but that didn’t require much effort.) I stopped at a few different places, and then set my sights on Flåm, a village found at the end of Aurlandsfjorden. Flåm is the home of the Flåm Railway, which is famous for its 2800′ elevation change over 12.5 miles. There are even a few waterfalls to be viewed along the Railway, such as Kjosfossen and Rjoandefossen.

Those falls can be viewed from the train. Brekkefossen can be viewed partially from spots in Flåm, but to get a more intimate view, you can hike to the Brekkefossen. I don’t think there was parking at the trail head of Brekkefossen, and anyway, it wasn’t a difficult hike to the trail head from Flåm. It’s about a 1 mile hike to the trail head/base of the falls, and it’s mostly on flat ground. It’s the hike up to get closer to the falls that classifies this as probably the most difficult hike I did while in Norway.

At a height of 2050′, Brekkefossen is pretty tall! It’s not a climb to the falls, so it’s not wildly steep, but you have to hike a pretty significant elevation in a pretty short distance. It must have not been the most difficult hike I have ever been on…I think I was prepared for the difficulty level. But, still, it was an adventure indeed. You’re greeted with a portion of a beautiful waterfall (of which most in Norway are)! Now, if you’re not up for the steep hike, you still can get a pretty good view of the falls from afar, so you can still check it off the list if you’re ever in Flåm.

Directions:

  1. Head to Flåm, which is along a main road, E16. There are some very long tunnels you have to pass through if you’re headed east into Flåm.
  2. I stayed in Flåm at the Fretheim. From there, I hiked back toward the E16.
  3. There are a few different ways to get to the road of interest, but you want to end up on the other side of E16 on a road Nedre Brekkevegen, heading essentially south for a few tenths of a mile. You’ll pass some apartments and hostels along the way.
  4. You’ll then end up at the trail head for the falls.

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: 2050′
Length of Hike: 2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Brekkefossen?

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Sunshine Falls, Colorado

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Sunshine Falls in May 2017

Sunshine Falls was an unexpected waterfall that I didn’t even know about. I was visiting Colorado after a workshop and had decided to go to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. After that visit, I was headed back to Denver, and decided to visit Cañon City and the Royal Gorge. There is a train that takes you on a two hour journey into the Gorge (and along the Arkansas River). This allows for some great views of the Royal Gorge Bridge and the scenery along the Arkansas River and through the Gorge is stunning.

So I was bit surprised when a tour guide mentioned there was a waterfall in the canyon. I rushed out of the train car I was in to get a better view. They mentioned the name of the falls is Sunshine Falls, at least that’s what I wrote down! It had been raining that day, and even then, there wasn’t much water flowing down the falls. But it was fun to add an unexpected waterfall to the record. If anywhere else, I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit the falls, but in this instance, the trip through the Gorge is definitely worth it! (There is another waterfall, Tunnel Drive Falls, that is nearby. Even that didn’t have much water flowing over the falls, but it again was an enjoyable hike that allowed for different views of the start of the gorge.)

Directions:

  1. In this case, unless you’re planning on rafting down the river, the best option to view the falls is on the train. The train station is located at 330 Royal Gorge Blvd, Cañon City, CO 81212. It is right off of US-50 as it passes through Cañon City.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 25′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Where in the World is Sunshine Falls?

Liberty Falls, Alaska

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Liberty Falls in August 2014

I’ve visited Alaska three times, and the second time I visited I drove from Anchorage to Valdez. It’s an approximately 5 hour drive, and there is definitely beautiful scenery along the way. Along the way there, I stayed in Copper Center. Just over 45 minutes away from Copper Center is Liberty Falls State Recreation Area, which isn’t too bad of a drive, and provides beautiful views of Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

I was doing some research to find out the height of the falls, and I couldn’t exactly remember how far of a hike it was to see the falls. I didn’t really remember a hike at all, but some searches were showing longer-than-expected hikes. What I discovered it that there are hiking opportunities in the recreation area, but I confirmed my recollection that to see the falls, there isn’t any hike required. You can get out of your car and essentially see the falls. So, while it is an out-of-the-way drive, once you arrive, it is not difficult to view the falls.

Directions:

  1. From AK-1, you’ll want to head south on AK-4 N (which doesn’t indicate the direction in this case, from my understanding).
  2. After driving south on AK-4 N, you’ll come to AK-10. You’ll want to turn left on AK-10 and drive just under 24 miles to the recreation area.
  3. You’re looking for the parking area that leads to direct views to the falls, unless you’re interested in doing a hike.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Liberty Falls?

Dettifoss, Iceland

I’m surprised sometimes at the waterfalls I haven’t written about. I don’t necessarily follow any order or write about the flashiest, biggest waterfalls first. That means that I sometimes am recording big, flashy waterfalls years after I visit them. When I visited the falls in 2012, I was a bit concerned because I read that both roads leading to the falls were unpaved gravel roads, which in Iceland can make accessing attractions somewhat difficult. Luckily, they had recently paved the road that tracks up the west side of the river, at least until you reach Dettifoss.

Dettifoss is widely known as being one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe (when considering water flow per second). It isn’t the tallest waterfall in Europe (not even the tallest waterfall in Iceland), but it is still impressive for sure! It’s definitely worth a visit, but it is somewhat isolated in the scheme of things. Some of the waterfalls in southern Iceland near Reykjavík and along the southern portion of the Ring Road are very easily accessed, sometimes literally by pulling off the road. From Reykjavík, it’s at least a 7 hour drive to Dettifoss, and is approximately 20 miles from the Ring Road. Luckily, you will get a view of Selfoss also.

Directions:

  1. You want to follow the Ring Road (Road 1) to get to Dettifoss, and the closest “large” city is probably Akureyri. Even then, it’s still a bit of a drive.
  2. About 75 miles from Akureyri, you’ll reach a few different roads. If you turn left on road 862, that road is paved and will lead you to Dettifoss. You can also turn left on road 864, which is unpaved, and four wheel drive is recommended.
  3. After about 20 miles on road 862 or 864, you’ll reach parking areas for Dettifoss, which will then require a short hike to view the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 144′
Length of Hike: 1.1 miles round-trip

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Dettifoss in June 2012

Where in the World is Dettifoss?

Lower White Oak Canyon Falls #3, Virginia

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Lower White Oak Canyon Falls #3 in December 2011

In December 2011, I had a chance to visit Shenandoah National Park, and I decided to do the hike to see the waterfalls of White Oak Canyon. I’m not sure why I chose this specific trail, but I believe I knew it had a number of waterfalls along the trail.

I discovered while hiking that there were more waterfalls than expected, though I always wonder whether to count all of the drops along a creek/river as just one waterfall, or how to decide what counts as a separate drop. I decided that there were 5 interesting drops in the canyon, which you can easily find by looking for the correct category tag. I also found that there were 2 “side-falls”, which were waterfalls that were not on the main creek/river, but instead flowed into them. It was an interesting hike, but you should realize that it’s also a strenuous hike, depending on how far you go. I went a pretty good distance (almost 5 miles round-trip), but that also includes a significant elevation decrease on the way down, followed by a significant elevation increase on the way up. It will definitely give you a good workout, but make sure to bring water!

Directions:

  1. At the intersection of US-211 and Skyline Drive, head south on Skyline Drive.
  2. After five or six miles, you should see the parking area for the White Oak Canyon Trail, which is where your journey begins. It’s just after the entrance to the Skyland Resort.
  3. From here, follow the very clear signage for about 2.5 miles to the first falls. After the first lower falls, this is the next in succession. Be aware: the further downhill you progress, the longer the uphill climb you have. The uphill climb is where the difficulty lies.

Accessibility: 2/10 (strenuous)
Height: 10′
Length of Hike: 4.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Lower White Oak Canyon Falls #3?

Kidney Springs Falls, South Dakota

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Kidney Springs Falls in May 2016

I’m not really sure how I stumbled upon Kidney Springs Falls. I was visiting South Dakota in May 2016, and I had a list of known waterfalls in South Dakota and Nebraska that I knew I was going to visit. But sometimes I get to a location, and I search on Google Maps or on the Internet, and I think Kidney Springs popped up, and I saw some pictures of a Kidney Springs Falls, and so I, on the spur of the moment, decided to go and check it out.

Kidney Springs Falls may be a long drive from the other falls, but once you arrive in Kidney Springs, it’s a very easy waterfall to find. There’s a parking area along North River Street that allows you to view the falls from across the Falls River. If you want a closer view, I seem to remember that there was a way to cross a bridge to get across the river, and then hike along a trail that leads you directly to the falls. But either way, neither option was a difficult choice. The waterfall doesn’t usually have much water flowing over it, but it is still pretty nonetheless.

Now, if that doesn’t seem worth it, there may be another waterfall within 5 miles of Kidney Springs Falls, but I had difficulty finding it. The Falls River, which Kidney Springs Falls drops into, seems to have a waterfall along it, which may possibly be accessed off of US-18 (which leads into Kidney Springs). I think I remember driving by and not seeing an easy way to view it, but County Highway 79F might lead you to a view of the falls. In 2016, there were no photos of the falls on Google Maps, but in 2019, there are some photos, so it seems like it may be accessible. (If it ends up being on private property, please respect that and don’t visit the falls.)

Directions:

  1. US-385 South or US-18/US-385 North both lead into Kidney Springs.
  2. You want to find North River Street, which is in Kidney Springs (and kind of follows US-385, though I don’t know if that stretch is officially designated as US-385).
  3. The Falls River runs adjacent to North River Street, and so you want to park along North River Street, and then view the falls from there, or head across the river and get an up-close view.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Kidney Springs Falls?

DeSoto Falls, Alabama

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DeSoto Falls in December 2009

I visited DeSoto Falls almost ten years ago, and now am just coming to write about the most impressive falls in DeSoto State Park. (I’ve written about the four smaller waterfalls in the park many years ago, comically enough.) So I’m now getting to the namesake falls.

DeSoto Falls is a really beautiful waterfall in northeastern Alabama. At 104′, it is one of the taller waterfalls in the state. Since it’s been so long since I visited, I don’t remember all of the specifics, but I do remember it being an easy waterfall to visit. There was a short hike from the parking lot to the falls. You’re then rewarded with a big drop surrounded by beautiful geological features. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely one of the waterfalls you should be visiting.

Directions:

  1. From I-59, take exit 231.
  2. Head southeast on AL-40 toward Hammondville/Valley Head.
  3. Turn right onto US-11 for a short ways.
  4. Turn left onto AL-117 south and drive for 3 miles through Valley Head. You will turn sharply right onto an apparently unnamed road. If you end up in Mentone, you’ve gone too far.
  5. Turn left toward County Road 613 and then continue on that road. You should end up at the DeSoto Falls Picnic Area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 104′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is DeSoto Falls?