Valley Falls, West Virginia

I haven’t posted any waterfalls in a while, even though I have visited a number since my last post. I’m done with work for the semester and have the next few months off to write about and visit waterfalls. This post is about a waterfall that I visited over a month ago, Valley Falls in West Virginia.

Some parts of West Virginia have more waterfalls because of certain geological features, but northern West Virginia doesn’t have nearly as many. A few do exist, though, and one of them is Valley Falls. This waterfall is found on the Tygart Valley River, which is a rather wide river that flows through West Virginia. The waterfall has its own state park, and when I visited, it was very peaceful, with only a few other people at the park. It was mid-April on a weekend, and it was pretty warm, but apparently people weren’t ready to get outdoors just yet!

There are a few drops that compose the waterfall, and each of them isn’t particularly tall. The one in the picture below might be a drop of about 5′ or so. What makes Valley Falls a bit more impressive is its width. The river is pretty wide, and when the falls are flowing, it would not be an easy task to cross the river.

I don’t know whether I would go out of my way to visit Valley Falls. There aren’t many other falls within a 30 or 40 mile radius, at least not considering driving distance. I did drive to Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania after this, but it was at least an hour drive there, if not more. If you’re near Morgantown, then I would consider taking a detour to visit.

Directions:
There are numerous ways to get to the falls, but the easiest path is as follows:

  1. From I-79 in West Virginia, take exit 137.
  2. Turn onto WV-310 heading southeast. Continue along this road for 7 miles.
  3. There will be a sign for Valley Falls State Park. Turn onto this road (which might be marked as 31/14) and drive 2 miles. The road you’re on will follow the perimeter of a lake, and then turn into Valley Falls Road.
  4. From the parking area, it’s a very short walk to the falls. There is no entrance fee.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 25′
Distance of Hike: negligible

Valley Falls in mid-April 2015

Where in the World is Valley Falls?

Split Rock Falls #5, Minnesota

Split Rock River is an interesting river on the North Shore of Minnesota. I guess I will admit, though, that I didn’t find it to be the *most* interesting river there. There are a number of drops along the river, and a few of them are pretty big…but they’re hard to see. The drops that are easy to see are smaller and less significant. I walked about 2 miles or so to see a few different drops, but really can’t say that any one of the stood out in my head. I will mention that every time I see one of the pictures, I think of the intensely red rock around the falls. If you’re in the area, and you have a lot of time to kill, this might be a good choice to see a few unique drops…Otherwise, I would skip it for other falls.

Directions:

  1. Heading north on MN-61 along the Lake Superior shoreline, you’ll enter Split Rock State Park. The Split Rock River is very close to the southern boundary, and so you’ll see the parking area.
  2. A sign indicating the Split Rock River is your best bet at identifying the parking lot for the falls. It is a smaller parking lot used frequently by fisherman. At the start of the trail head, you’ll see a sign indicating the trail.
  3. After about 0.5 miles, you’ll come to a fork in the trail. Head along the right fork, where you’ll soon come to West Split Rock River Falls. Keep heading along that trail, which goes on for a considerable distance. I only traveled about 2 miles along the trail (one-way).

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 20′
Distance of hike: 0.5 to 2.0 miles one-way, depending on how far you’d like to go…and it keeps going.

A waterfall along the Split Rock River

Where in the World is Split Rock Falls #5?

Fall Creek and Coon Creek Falls, Tennessee

Fall Creek Falls (left) and Coon Creek Falls (right) in December 2009

It’s not often that I get to describe two waterfalls at once, and I could probably describe them separately. That seems counter-intuitive, though, as you’re going to see both Fall Creek Falls and Coon Creek Falls at the same time, assuming Coon Creek Falls is flowing.

Fall Creek and Coon Creek Falls are very easy to view, as you can drive to a parking area which leads to a viewing platform. At just over 250′ tall, Fall Creek Falls is very impressive. Coon Creek Falls is thinner, but is still interesting. The day I visited, it was rather windy, and so the falls, especially Fall Creek, were being pushed from side to side. It was rather cool to watch!

If you’re interested, there is a trail that leads down to the base of the falls. Now, from what I have read it’s a short trail. You’ll be descending over 250′ in a rather short distance, and this didn’t hold much appeal to me at the time, so I skipped that. I felt like there were pretty good views to be had without much hiking, though I now imagine it would be pretty cool to get a different view of the rock layers.

If you’re looking for a number of waterfalls within close distance of each other, Fall Creek Falls State Park is a really great place to visit. Cane Creek Cascades, Cane Creek Falls, Rockhouse Falls, and Piney Creek Falls are all in the same park.

Directions:

  1. From one of the entrances, you want to head toward the Fall Creek Dam. (Google seems to call it Park Road.)
  2. You’ll end up on a one-way road, if I remember correctly. Go to the turnoff for Falls Creek Falls and drive to the parking area for the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 256′
Length of Hike: negligible

Where in the World is Fall Creek and Coon Creek Falls?

Tuscarora Falls, Pennsylvania

Tuscarora Falls in May 2009

Instead of viewing some waterfalls as isolated, you have to think of the whole. If Tuscarora Falls were all by itself, it would be a very nice waterfall. It’s 47′ tall, it isn’t a skimpy little waterfall, but it’s also not extremely tall.

And yet it’s one of the 20+ waterfalls found in Ricketts Glen State Park. As a whole, this is one amazing set of waterfalls. If you decide to take the 4 mile round trip journey, you won’t see the same waterfall, and that’s what makes it great! Some of them are smaller but wider, while others are tall and narrow. You won’t keep thinking you’ve seen this before!

You should exercise caution as you go on this 4 mile + hike. I didn’t find it to be extremely strenuous from a energy/fitness standpoint. While you will be climbing uphill for a portion, it’s punctuated by stops along the way to view each fall. The caution really comes from the narrow paths that sometimes show up right next to a significant drop. This would be very stupid to do in flip-flops. You want good hiking shoes, water, bug spray, and common sense. With those things, you should be fine.

Directions:

  1. From your starting point, get to the area around Red Rock, PA.
  2. Turn onto PA-487, heading north. Go to the entrance to Ricketts Glen and turn right into the entrance.
  3. Follow the signs to the Falls Trail. You can access the Falls Trail using the Lake Rose parking area or Beach Lot #2 parking area, though you’ll be starting on different creeks. Start your hike on the loop by connecting into the Falls Trail.

Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Height: 47′
Length of Hike: 4 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Tuscarora Falls?

Little Falls, Tennessee

Every once in a while, I honestly can’t remember a waterfall. I don’t really remember Little Falls. I remember the other not-so-distant Little Falls in Tennessee (which is Rock Island State Park). This one is found in Burgess Falls State Park. I remember walking down a hill to view Falling Water Cascades, which is above Little Falls. I recollect Middle Falls, which I had a difficult time photographing in the early morning sun. And it’s almost impossible to forget Burgess Falls, the largest of the falls.

And yet I don’t seem to remember Little Falls, which is upstream of Middle and Burgess Falls. I have a photograph of it and it’s on the map of Tennessee waterfalls I’ve visited, but it just isn’t clicking. The trail that leads to Burgess Falls is a pretty easy jaunt, and I have a feeling it was so simple to stop and view the falls that it just became an afterthought. I didn’t have to do anything special to photograph the falls. It was just there, and in the process, this beautiful waterfall slipped away.

Directions:

  1. From I-40 near Cookeville, take the exit for TN-135 and head south on TN-135.
  2. Follow TN-135 for a ways, until you see the sign indicating the turn for Burgess Falls. From there, its a short distance to the parking lot for the falls.
  3. The signs make the hike very simple to follow.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 1.6 miles round-trip (to see all falls)

Little Falls in December 2009

Where in the World is Little Falls?

Upper Falls, Wisconsin

I’ve always wished people could become a little bit more creative when naming waterfalls. Upper Falls does clearly describe that is a waterfall further upstream along the Amnicon River, but it’s just not that exciting from a naming perspective! Even “Upper Amnicon Falls” would provide more information about where it’s located, and it could probably be referred to that way! There is the equally as exciting Lower Falls, which is actually pretty cool (as is Upper Falls). If you’re in the same park, there are two falls that were better named, Snake Pit Falls and Now and Then Falls. And then there are other drops that I don’t know if they really have a name, so I’ve called them #1, #2, and #3.

I mention these to indicate what you really get when you visit Amnicon Falls State Park is at least 7 waterfalls! Upper Falls is pretty neat, but you have to take all of them together to appreciate them. It’s a very nice park, and if I had family there, I would totally be taking them there all of the time. It’s really fun to explore all of the trails to find even more falls, even though they aren’t particularly tall. (Upper Falls maybe clocks in at 15′ or so…) And if this doesn’t excite you, don’t forget Big Manitou and Little Manitou Falls aren’t that far away (in Pattison State Park). (Big Manitou clocks in at 165′ tall.)

Directions:

  1. From Duluth/Superior, head east on US-2.
  2. Just after the intersection of US-2 with WI-53, you’ll notice a sign indicating that Amnicon Falls State Park is coming very soon.
  3. At the sign indicating the park, turn left onto County Road U.
  4. After a very short distance on County Road U, you will find the entrance for the state park. Stop and purchase a day pass if you need one. The ranger at the visitor’s center was extremely helpful at directing me to the falls and telling me how to get to Pattison State Park.
  5. Right near the visitor center, you can head right down a rather narrow park road to the end. You’ll see Lower Falls, and then you can head upstream to see Upper Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: negligible

Upper Falls in May 2010

Where in the World is Upper Falls?

High Falls, Georgia

I’ve looked for waterfalls outside of northern Georgia, where there are many, and didn’t seem to have much luck. I found a few outside of Atlanta, though they didn’t seem particularly big. I then logged onto AllTrails (which you should download), and noticed there was a state park called High Falls State Park. I found out there was a waterfall there, and it looked pretty interesting. (It’s other name, Towaliga Falls, sounds much cooler.)

It wasn’t a difficult drive from Atlanta, only about 50 miles or so, and directly off of I-75. Once driving to the state park area, it was pretty easy to find the falls and it was an extremely easy hike. I was surprised at how wide this waterfall was. The sign says it drops 100′, but that is over a relatively long distance. The main falls are probably 50′ or so, and there is a portion that is difficult to see. There wasn’t anybody else there, and it was pretty early in the morning, so it was extremely peaceful. If you’re looking for an excursion from the Atlanta area, this would definitely be a great option!

Directions:

  1. From I-75, take exit 198. If you are coming from Atlanta, you will exit and then turn left onto High Falls Road.
  2. Continue about 1 mile or so the park entrance. The first park entrance is where you can pay the $5 entrance fee early in the day. If you cross the bridge, though, you’ll come to the day use area on your left.
  3. Park there and then cross the road to the trail. It is directly adjacent to the river, and you just walk downstream for a few hundred feet to some pretty good viewpoints. The second one is the better vantage point.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate, stairs and some dirt trail)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 0.2 mi round-trip

High Falls in May 2014

Where in the World is High Falls?

Pe’epe’e Falls, Hawaii

On the Wailuku River, there are a number of impressive waterfalls. Rainbow Falls is definitely the most popular on the river, and you’ll see many other people there. If you continue driving along the road that runs adjacent to the river, you’ll arrive at two other waterfalls. Wai’ale Falls is easy to view, and is also pretty impressive.

Pe’epe’e Falls is an impressive waterfall, but you can only see it from a distance. There is a designated area for a geological feature known as the Boiling Pots, which I didn’t find to be particularly interesting. And from this viewing area, you can also get a glimpse of Pe’epe’e Falls. Now, there are signs that clearly indicate that you should not go beyond the fence because it’s dangerous. And I decided to heed the warnings on those signs, and I am suggesting that you follow those signs too. I would never want to hear that somebody got hurt while deciding to do something possibly dangerous because a website indicated it might be ok. So you might be able to get a better view, but realize it can start raining at any time, and it can rain intensely, and the river conditions can change dramatically. So while it looks ok now, it might not be 15 minutes from now. Use common sense, people!

Directions:

  1. The main road, Highway 11, “starts” in Hilo (though it encircles most of the island).  At mile marker 0, you begin heading west and then northwest for a ways.  Stay on the main road, which will also be called Mamalahoa Highway.
  2. After just a few miles or less, you will come to the junction of Highway 200 on your left.  Turn left onto Highway 200, also known as Waianuenue Avenue.
  3. Follow the signs to Rainbow Falls.  After stopping there, continue along Waianuenue Avenue. You’ll pass by a hospital along the way, and then enter a residential area.
  4. You’ll come to Pe’epe’e Falls Road, and turn right onto this road. This will lead directly into the parking area to view the Boiling Pots and the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (Don’t go over the fence!)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: negligible

Pe’epe’e Falls in March 2013

Where in the World is Pe’epe’e Falls?

Upper Wallace Falls, Washington

Upper Wallace Falls in December 2012

I visited Wallace Falls in December 2012, and it had snowed at higher elevations in the previous day. It meant that there was 3-4″ of snow on the ground. The air was very humid, though, and there was a beautifully surreal mist in the air. I was apprehensive about visiting the falls because of the weather conditions, but I found the drive to be better than expected. I still wasn’t sure what the hike was going to be like, though.

The initial portion of the hike to view the multiple falls is rather flat. It then suddenly starts climbing. In normal conditions, it’s probably perfect. In snowy conditions, it’s fine until you keep climbing and climbing. There are three drops to the falls, and they are pretty tall, so the elevation gain is pretty surprising. Arriving at Middle Wallace Falls wasn’t particularly difficult, and many others had completed this portion of the journey. Continuing on to Upper Wallace Falls proved to be more challenging. Not only was the snow deeper, but the trail becomes steeper and rougher.  I was still able to make it without much difficulty, though that portion was far less traversed. Looking back, I remember that my boots were the biggest problem, as they were too tight on my feet and were causing more issues than any snow or trail. I promptly went and bought new shoes after this hike (literally an hour or two later).

I have to admit in the end that I fell in love with Wallace Falls State Park. The snow surrounding the waterfalls just added to the amazing views. The mist created an almost ethereal setting. If you’re in the Seattle area, and are looking for waterfalls Wallace Falls and Snoqualmie Falls are definitely the two best choices.

Directions:

  1. If you’re headed to the area from Seattle, the most difficult part might be getting onto US-2. It’s not terrible, and yet the road system is just complicated enough. One option was a toll bridge, which was quicker, but I didn’t want to deal with that since I was in a rental car. The other option was looping around at one point along I-405 and WA-522. Follow the signs headed toward US-2 West.
  2. Once along US-2 W, keep driving until you enter the town of Gold Bar. Not long after entering the town, there will be a sign indicating the turn to Wallace Falls State Park.
  3. If you’re heading west, you will take a left turn onto 1st Street.
  4. At the four-way stop, turn right onto MacKenzie Street. Head to the end of this road. Near the end, there will be a fork.
  5. Take the left fork headed to the entrance of Wallace Falls State Park.
  6. At the parking area, there is a kiosk where you can pay the $10 entrance fee by credit card.
  7. Start along the trail. The trail is obvious and well maintained, but it does become steeper and more difficult to traverse as you proceed. The hike to the Upper Falls is 2.7 miles one-way.

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/strenuous, steep, though nowhere near impossible…more complicated when snow is covering the ground, but still fun)
Height: 240′
Length of Hike: 5.4 miles round-trip (to Upper Falls)

Where in the World is Upper Wallace Falls?

Erie Falls, Pennsylvania

Erie Falls in May 2009

I haven’t posted in a while, and I also haven’t posted about one of the Ricketts Glen waterfalls in a while…So now’s the time! If you’re in north central Pennsylvania, then Ricketts Glen is the premier place to find waterfalls. There are 20+ in this park, and they are almost all easily accessed along a single loop trail. One, Adams Falls, is further down along the same river. I visited in late May 2009, and it was a truly beautiful time to visit. The spring wildflowers were still present, the temperature was just right, and the weather beautiful. (Storms would arrive the next day, though.)

Ganoga Falls is the tallest of the falls in the park. Erie Falls is pretty tall, too. The falls in the park have a tendency to look “shorter” in photographs. In the photo for Erie Falls, though, there is a hiker in the upper left corner that provides some perspective. There is a trail that leads to the base of the falls. Many of the falls are easy to view.

As with any waterfall, there are dangers, but Ricketts Glen poses more if you aren’t careful. A number of people have died while hiking. At a few select points, the trail narrows while maneuvering down stairs, and there is a 20’+ drop to the river below. This shouldn’t deter you, but be cautious. If at any point I felt like I was in a precarious position, I made sure to slow down and tried to hold onto anything that could steady me. It is by no means the hardest hike I have been on, even though it is approximately 4 miles round trip.

Directions:

  1. From your starting point, get to the area around Red Rock, PA.
  2. Turn onto PA-487, heading north. Go to the entrance to Ricketts Glen and turn right into the entrance.
  3. Follow the signs to the Falls Trail. You can access the Falls Trail using the Lake Rose parking area or Beach Lot #2 parking area, though you’ll be starting on different creeks. Start your hike on the loop by connecting into the Falls Trail.

Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Height: 47′
Length of Hike: 4 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Erie Falls?