I don’t know about you but fall is my favorite season. It is filled with football, apple picking, and adventures to see all the things “fall!” Early in the season, we hit up some apple picking and watched plenty of college football so that meant it was time for an adventure. We opted to go chasing waterfalls for our fall adventure in the western Carolinas.
Fall Adventure in the Western Carolinas
As the wintery weather was popping up on the 10-day weather forecast I knew it was now or never on our fall adventure in the western Carolinas to go chasing waterfalls. My travel buddy does not like when it is extremely cold and I was hoping to catch the last of the colorful leaves.
We decided to wing it and head up to Hendersonville, NC for the night to start fresh in the morning. Our start was late because of a prior obligation but we set off with oodles of enthusiasm.
The late departure and lack of pre-planning was mistake number one for our trip. It seems we were not the only ones taking advantage of the mild weekend because finding a hotel room was a challenge. We eventually wound up at a sketchy but clean Econo Lodge. Don’t believe the 3+ star rating, it is ready for a major remodel but the staff was kind and polite.
After our rough start, a small treat was well deserved the next morning from the local Starbucks. A seasonal peppermint mocha for me and hot chocolate for W. This was mistake number two of the trip, trust me. With hot beverages, a programmed Google Map itinerary in case we lost data service, and some cheerful smiles plastered on our faces we were ready to hit the road for chasing waterfalls and fall adventure in the Western Carolinas.
After many winding hills, curves, and switchbacks – – and the reason the hot chocolate was a bad idea, “mama, I don’t think my tummy wants to see waterfalls,” we arrived at Dry Falls in Highlands, North Carolina. It was worth the small human getting car sick and some minor traffic congestion.
Along the way, we also saw Bridal Veil Falls and a CCC dam, both quick little stops to check out nature and man-made beauty. Dry Falls isn’t quite dry, obviously, but it is certainly stunning! You have the opportunity to go behind the falls when you take the trail down this hill. There are steps, a lot of them, so be prepared.
Things to bring with you for your visit Dry Falls:
- cash for USDA Forest Service fee, $3
- baby wipes or hand sanitizer if you need to use the bathroom to clean your hands
- a raincoat and sturdy shoes are also advisable
King Creek Falls
So, you remember that little tidbit about “mama, I don’t think my tummy wants to see waterfalls?” Our plan to hike and visit King Creek Falls had to get 86’ed since we were cutting it close on time. That being said, this one looked like a gorgeous one and our lack of planning bit us in the hiney. If we get a surprisingly warm weekend before the end of the year I would like to take the trip back to camp and visit King Creek Falls.
This stop was originally the only one we were planning on doing until we heard about Dry Falls. Instead, it became our final stop on the journey before heading home. Prior to arriving, we stumbled upon a road-side stand selling apples which provided the fuel we needed to enjoy the excursion.
Issaqueena Falls is just a bit down SC 107 from the turn off for King Creek Falls. It features Stumphouse Tunnel and the falls, as well as a bike trail and picnicking. The area could easily be a whole-day excursion. There is a $2/per car fee for the park.
The Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel is an uncompleted tunnel that is spooky yet fun to walk into and meander to the back portion.
It is only about 1/8th of a mile so it is an easy walk. Be sure to bring a flashlight or use the one on your phone. It is also damp so watch out for the puddles!
Just a hop, skip, and a jump if you are a four-year-old or an easy walk if you 41 are the Issaqueena Falls. The falls have a “romantic adventure” story attached to them. It is an easy walk to the observation deck and for the more adventurous, and not starving, souls a fun hike further down the hill to see its full glory. We opted to be not so adventurous and head towards a late lunch.
I hope our misadventure has inspired you to plan your own adventure. Our lack of planning didn’t put a damper on our adventure but serves as a cautionary tale to inspire you to plan a bit better to get the maximum enjoyment out of the adventure.
If you are in driving distance of Asheville, NC I highly recommend planning a Christmas season visit to the Biltmore Estate, it is fabulous. I have to stress the word plan for the visit though, don’t just wing it as we did for our fall adventure in the Western Carolinas.