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?

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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?

Willow Falls, Wisconsin

A couple of years ago, I flew into Minneapolis and visited a number of waterfalls. One of the Minnesota waterfalls I visited was Vermillion Falls in Hastings. I for some reason didn’t realize that there were other waterfalls very close to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border, or at least that these waterfalls were so close. Willow Falls is only about 30 minutes away from Hastings, and Cascade Falls is only about 30 minutes from Willow Falls. So there are a number of other waterfalls along the border that you might want to check out.

Willow Falls is definitely a waterfall that you want to check out. While it is a bit isolated from other waterfalls, it is a beautiful waterfall. There are a number of different trails that lead to the main trail to the falls, but the shortest way to get there is via a specific parking lot designated for the falls. The hike starts out pretty easily, but then becomes rather steep, though it is paved. That makes the hike a bit more moderate in difficulty, especially on the way back to the parking lot. But when you reach the falls, you’re rewarded with a really nice tiered waterfall that approaches 45′ in height and 100′ wide. There are a few different viewpoints that lead to great shots of the falls.

Directions:

  1. Headed in from Minneapolis/St. Paul, you might be headed east on I-94.
  2. Take exit 4 (in Wisconsin) for County Road U (US-12), and head north on US-12.
  3. Instead of veering east on US-12, continue forward along County Road U, which then turns into County Road A.
  4. Willow Falls State Park is found on the left of the road if you’re headed north. Maps online seem to indicate that you can head directly to the Willow Falls parking area, but that is blocked off. You must enter at the park entrance and pay the fee. You will then follow a dirt road to the parking area. (I don’t know if this changes based on the season?)
  5. From the parking area, follow signs for the falls. You’ll know you’re headed in the right direction if you’re on a moderately steep, paved path.

Accessibility: 7/10 (moderate)
Height: 45′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

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Willow Falls in September 2019

Where in the World is Willow Falls?

Shadow Falls, Minnesota

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Shadow Falls in September 2019

I didn’t know what to expect from Shadow Falls. I was visiting Minnesota and Wisconsin this past weekend, and flew in and out of Minneapolis. I had a few waterfalls on Wisconsin on my list, but I didn’t really have any from Minnesota on my radar. Luckily I brought one of the books that included Shadow Falls. The description was somewhat helpful, but didn’t really reveal how interesting Shadow Falls could be.

A few years ago, I had visited Hidden Falls, which is on the same side of the Mississippi River. It’s an interesting park, but Hidden Falls didn’t have much water and had aspects of human touches. I maybe expected that from the photos I saw of Shadow Falls. What I found was a much taller (than I expected) waterfall definitely a bit more rustic in getting to the falls.

Luckily, it’s a short hike to the falls, but if there’s any rain or water nearby, you’re likely to get a bit muddy. The initial hike to the falls isn’t very difficult. You could get a view of a portion of the falls from the trail above the falls. But if you want to get to the base, it becomes a bit more interesting. There is a trail to the base, but it is a bit slippery and steep. The ground has a lot of clay in it, and this can make shoes very slick. But if you can get down to the base, you realize that the waterfall is much more interesting that it seems from above.

Directions:

  1. Head to Shadow Falls Park by using Google Maps. (There are so many different ways you could approach it.)
  2. Really, the trick is deciding where to park. I think there is some parking off of Mississippi River Boulevard near The Monument. On weekends, there is parking available on some of the streets nearby. I parked on Exeter Place, and that leads you much closer to the start of the hike.
  3. The start of the hike is near the intersection of Exeter Place and Mississippi River Boulevard, and is a dirt trail.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Shadow Falls?

Overlook Falls, South Carolina

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Overlook Falls in March 2017

This an odd little waterfall that you’ll find at…surprise…an overlook between two numbered South Carolina roads. I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to see the falls, but it ends up that Whitewater Falls and Sloan Bridge Falls are found on opposite sides, so if you’re looking for waterfalls in far northwest South Carolina, you might end up passing by the falls anyway.

It is an easy waterfall to miss, but it’s also an easy waterfall to visit once you find it. I think I may have passed this a few times along the way, and had to backtrack a bit to find it. If you’re driving west, the falls will be on your right. There’s a large parking area/pullout on the left (if headed west). It doesn’t have a whole lot of water flowing at any point in time, so the best time to see the falls would be after a heavy rain.

Directions:

  1. The waterfall is found on State Road S-37-413 between SC-130 and SC-107.
  2. If you’re headed west on S-37-413, the falls will be on the right just before the parking area on the left. You may have to walk a bit to get closer to the falls.

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

Where in the World is Overlook Falls?

Rocky Glen Falls, Illinois

I was trying to decide whether include this waterfall, as I had a hunch it was man-made, and from what I understand, it was constructed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. And yet, I figure it’s an interesting enough stop that doesn’t have the feel of a man-made waterfall at a putt-putt golf course!

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve completely surrounds Argonne National Laboratory, so there are multiple trails that do not necessarily lead to waterfalls, but to other interesting features of the park. Rocky Glen Falls is in the southeastern portion of the preserve. It was an enjoyable hike to the falls, partly on gravel roads, and then on some trails as you approach the falls. I visited in January 2018 when it was a rather warm day, and it was a surprisingly hopping place. There were many people traversing the trails and visiting the falls. It’s about a 30-45 minute drive outside of downtown Chicago, but it doesn’t appear public transportation will be an easy way to get there. So I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to visit the falls, but I still found it an enjoyable diversion.

Directions:

  1. From I-55, you could take exit 274 onto IL-83 heading south.
  2. After 2.2 miles on IL-83, turn right onto Bluff Road.
  3. After 0.7 miles, turn onto Waterfall Glen Road toward the Waterfall Glen Parking Area.
  4. From there, the Main Trail starts heading east. It then veers right/north onto the Rocky Glen Trail. The Rocky Glen Trail leads you to the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 3′
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip

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Rocky Glen Falls in January 2018

Where in the World is Rocky Glen Falls?