Roughlock Falls in May 2016
As you head further west in South Dakota, you start finding some really beautiful scenery. One of those places is Spearfish Canyon. It’s definitely got the western feel to it. Spearfish Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are two of the popular waterfalls in the canyon. Bridal Veil Falls is the easiest to visit, right off the road. Spearfish Falls isn’t difficult to visit, just a bit hard to find at first. Roughlock Falls is the third main waterfall, and it too is pretty easy to find.
Roughlock Falls is on Little Spearfish Creek, with Roughlock Falls upstream and Spearfish Falls downstream (on the same creek) just as it merges with Spearfish Creek. You can take a longer hike to get to the falls from the Roughlock Falls Trailhead near the Spearfish Canyon Lodge. It’s a beautiful hike along the creek, and comes in at just under 1 mile one-way. I remember the hike being pretty easy. If you decide you don’t want to walk that far, there’s also a parking area only about 400 feet from the falls. I didn’t regret the longer hike one bit.
I did show up at a time of day when the sun was out and intense. It made photographing these and the other falls a bit more difficult, but you can’t predict what the weather is going to be like. It was early May, and yet the temperatures were rather warm. It did get a bit cold at night, so make sure to bring layers. (And early May seemed to be a great time to visit. Some of the hotels were running $40 a night. Later in the summer, good luck trying to find a room.)
- In Spearfish, follow the signs for Spearfish Canyon. This will be US-14 ALT. Continue along this curving road until you reach an intersection where you’ll find the Latchstring Restaurant and Spearfish Lodge.
- At this junction, head west along Roughlock Falls Road. The trailhead for the longer hike is right after the lodge. Drive further down to get to the other parking area.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy from parking area), 8/10 (easy/moderate from trailhead)
Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip from parking area; 1.8 miles from trailhead
Where in the World is Roughlock Falls?
Kakahi Falls may not be one of those waterfalls that you go out of your way to see just for a waterfall. It’s honestly more of a bonus to an already cool experience. Kakahi Falls is found in Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park near Rotorua. Rotorua is widely known for it’s geothermal activity, including geysers (which I regret that I didn’t see). It’s very similar to Yellowstone National Park and to some of the features in Iceland.
It’s rather easy to get to Kakahi Falls since it’s along the main walking route in the park. To get to many of the other features such as the mud baths, you will pass by the falls. It may not look like the best picture below, but that’s because the water is steaming! The water flowing over Kakahi Falls has not long before been heated underground. I’m not sure how much more water will be flowing over the falls even on a rainy day as evidence by the way the rocks have been carved by the water.
- From Rotorua, head northeast on highway 30.
- At the junction of highways 30 and 33, continue on 30.
- The entrance to your park will be on the left of the road after just a few miles/kilometers.
- Park and pay the entrance fee to the park. (As of 2018, it’s NZ$35.)
- Start your journey. You’ll find the falls along the designated loop. I believe there was a sign.
There are a few other waterfalls just north off of highway 30: Tutea Falls and Trout Pond Falls. I didn’t visit them, and I don’t know why. (It gives me an excuse to go back.)
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~15′ (one site online says 40’…if this is true, there’s much more to these falls than I can see)
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip (just to the falls)
Kakahi Falls in May 2011
Where in the World is Kakahi Falls?
There isn’t much information on the internet about Astellen Falls, which is found in Glenveagh National Park in northwest Ireland. This leads me to an interesting question that I don’t think has been brought up because there’s so little information about Ireland waterfalls in general. Powerscourt Falls outside of Dublin is advertised as the tallest waterfall in Ireland at 397’/121 m. But after seeing Astellen Falls, I wonder. Looking at google’s elevation chart, it seems that the total drop for this falls might be somewhere around 180 m, which would be closer to 600′. I’m a terrible judge of height, but it doesn’t seem like the visible portion of this waterfall is 600′. Maybe there’s some hidden above? (If anyone’s reading this and they know how to measure waterfalls, this might be a task…)
A few reasons that this has probably not been looked into…First, Astellen Falls is not as easy to get to from a trip perspective. It’s about a 3 hour drive from Dublin to Glenveagh National Park. That also means it’s a relatively isolated, quiet, and yet stunningly beautiful national park. Second, it’s a 4.5 mile round-trip hike to see the falls (which again is absolutely worth it for the scenery), and once you reach your destination, you’re not particularly close to the falls. If you’re into photography, I suggest you bring a lens that can zoom in well. A cell phone camera is not going to capture much here.
The waterfall is beautiful, the park is beautiful, and there’s so much else to see in Glenveagh National Park. There is a castle (which I don’t think I viewed, as I don’t have any pictures), and there’s also a castle garden (which I did walk through). If you get the chance to explore the northern portion of Ireland, it’s definitely worth it!
- There are a number of ways to arrive at Glenveagh National Park, but the most sensible one would be to take the N56 (near Leterkenny) northwest toward the park.
- After some distance, turn left onto R255.
- After a short distance, turn left onto R251. (I believe there was pretty clear signage along the way).
- To get into the park, you park at a designated area and take a bus to the castle/gardens.
- From the castle/gardens, start your hike south along Lough Beagh. After about 2.2 miles of hiking, you’ll see the falls across Lough Beach to your right.
Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: 4.5 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Astellen Falls?
Tropic Ditch Falls in May 2015
Tropic Ditch Falls is a fascinating waterfall. It is not a natural waterfall, at least not in the sense that it wasn’t flowing 100+ years ago. From the National Park Service website: “Mormon farmers diverted water from the East Fork of the Sevier River near Tropic Reservoir to irrigate fields around Tropic City.” (More info here.) In the process, the diversion led to water flowing through uneven terrain, and a waterfall was inadvertently created.
If this is a man-made waterfall, why should you go and visit? Because it’s got some of the most stunningly beautiful colors in the rocks around the waterfall that I have ever seen. (Red Dirt Falls on the island of Kauai is another.) It’s in Bryce Canyon National Park, which is an amazing place to visit. While this is not in the main park thoroughfare, it’s still relatively easy to get to. The hike is short but full of color. I figured even if I didn’t see a waterfall, the views were still worth it. And then when I saw the falls, it just confirmed that.
- To get to the main thoroughfare of Bryce Canyon National Park, at the junction of UT-12 and UT-63, you would head south on UT-63. Instead of that, head east (southeast) on UT-12 toward Tropic.
- Drive about 3.5 miles on UT-12 to the Mossy Cave Trailhead. If headed southeast, it will be on your right. If I remember correctly, there was more than enough parking there.
- Follow the trail. I think there were signs to the waterfall, though I could be wrong. It’s pretty easy, though, just follow the water. I believe I turned right at one point. All in all, it’s about 0.4 miles one-way.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Tropic Ditch Falls?
Tunnel Drive Falls barely flowing in May 2017
I’m going to write about this waterfall even though it may seem like there’s not much there. I think it’s because of its location. You probably won’t be expecting to find a waterfall there, so if you do, it will at least be interesting. It also helps the hike to the falls is beautiful in itself.
If you’re visiting Cañon City, it’s likely because of the of the Royal Gorge, which is honestly beautiful. Take the train ride through the gorge. It’s worth it, and you might see another seasonal waterfall, Sunshine Falls. If you want a different view of the gorge (or one that’s less busy), head to the Tunnel Drive Trail. This trail quickly climbs uphill so that you’re walking into the gorge. At the right time of day, you would see the train heading in or out.
It just so happens that when it’s raining enough, there are some ephemeral waterfalls that pop up. It did happen to be raining on the day I was there or I wouldn’t have attempted to find these falls. The designated trail is approximately 2 miles one-way and it’s mostly level after the initial climb. You pass through a number of interesting tunnels along the way. I didn’t have much to go off in finding the falls, so I would suggest focusing on your right side as you approach the 2 mile marker. If I remember correctly, the falls were before this marker. The one page I could find, which has a better picture of the falls (found here), mentioned the falls could be found after the second bridge, which did seem to be correct.
- Along US-50 west of the Royal Gorge Railroad, you’ll find the intersection of Tunnel Drive and US-50. Turn onto Tunnel Drive. (If you’re headed west, it will be a left turn.)
- Head to the end of Tunnel Drive. You’ll find the trailhead there. (Google Maps makes it look like the road continues to the falls, but it ends earlier than what’s on Google Maps.)
- Start your hike, which does include an uphill climb at first.
Accessibility: 7/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Length of Hike: 4 miles round-trip
It’s been nine years since I visited Lucifer Falls (along with a number of other waterfalls in Upstate New York). It was an interesting time to visit the region. As you can tell, all of the snow had melted by that time in early May, but a number of the state parks in the area weren’t at full “capacity”. At Watkins Glen State Park, only a portion of the trail was open as they checked for issues with the trails. Similarly, I think only a portion of the trails at Robert H Treman State Park (where Lucifer Falls is found) were fully open. So while you’ll be able to visit many of the falls in early May, a few may still be inaccessible.
In Ithaca, there are so many impressive waterfalls: Taughannock Falls, Ithaca Falls, New York, all of the Buttermilk Falls, etc. Lucifer Falls is another one to add to the list. At 115′ tall and found in another beautiful gorge, it’s a truly impressive waterfall. You can get the sense that at higher flow than what is in the picture below, the waterfall is even wider. You can also get closer to the falls at the right time of year, though I think that was part of the trail that had limited/closed access (or I just decided not to go further since you get a fairly good view of the falls from the viewpoint).
I don’t remember the hike to the falls being wildly difficult, though it was nine years ago. (That’s the downside of writing about a waterfall so long after.) There are a lot of stairs as you get closer to the falls, as you might be able to notice in the picture. The trail does continue on from one entrance to the other entrance. Near the entrance that I would recommend, you’ll also find the smaller Old Mill Falls.
- Turn onto NY-327 W from NY-13.
- Take the road 2.5 miles to the Upper (second) entrance. You’ll have to take a sharp left turn to enter the park.
- Drive down to the parking lot. From the parking lot, follow the trail to Lucifer Falls. You’ll be heading east along this trail.
Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip (from the Upper Parking Lot)
Lucifer Falls in May 2009
Smith Falls in May 2016
Two years around this time, I was visiting South Dakota, and took a short venture into Nebraska to see a few waterfalls. I’ve posted information about one of them, Snake River Falls. It’s one of three impressive waterfalls in the Valentine area (that are easy to visit). The second one I’ll discuss is Smith Falls, which is known as the tallest of the falls in Nebraska.
I don’t know what to say about Smith Falls except to mention that it’s probably one of the most unique waterfall I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t a wild amount of water flowing over it (compared to Snake River Falls, which had a very high flow in early May), and so the falls took on a bizarre shape. As you might notice, erosion has occurred around the falls, but the water flows over in a central location and then cascades out as the rock below widens. Instead of being “smoothed out” at the crest of the falls, it’s kind of jagged, and then it expands toward the base. I can’t say I’ve seen any other falls with this distinctly unique shape and flow.
It’s not a particularly difficult hike to get to the falls. I showed up and the visitor’s center was not open. Nobody else was even remotely around. I didn’t have any cash, so I wasn’t sure how to deal with the entrance fee. I decided to explore and donate more to other state parks :). The hike leads you downhill toward the Niobara River. You then cross the Niobara River over a pedestrian bridge, and then head toward the falls, which will be to your right. There are some stairs and a wood pathway that lead to the base of the falls.
- In Valentine, head north along N Main Street.
- Turn right onto NE-12 (E 5th Street, which then turns into the Outlaw Trail Scenic Byway).
- Drive 15 miles along NE-12 heading east. You will notice signs for Smith Falls State Park. (Along the way you pass Fort Niobara National Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll find Fort Falls.)
- Turn right onto the road heading toward Smith Falls State Park. Google does not provide a name for this road. Drive 3 miles or so down this road, and continue to follow the signs.
- There may be a left turn required to get to the parking area with visitor’s center.
- From the visitor’s center, head downhill toward the Niobara River, cross the river via bridge, and then veer slightly right along the trail to the falls.
The address shown on the Nebraska state parks website will lead you down some primitive roads if you follow Google’s directions. It’s better to stay on Nebraska Route 12.
Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 1.2 miles round-trip