Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Upper Cascades Falls: Hanging Rock State Park

A Melody Visualized

Tucked well within Hanging Rock State Park you will find several different waterfalls, one of which is the Upper Cascades Falls.  It is one of six named waterfalls found here.  To get to the park, you can download a map (either JPEG, or PDF) from their web site. It is located along NC 8 in Danbury, NC.

Once inside the park, follow the main road to the parking area by the visitor's center. There are trails on either end of the parking lot, but to see the Upper Cascades, you must cross back over the road you just drove in on. The trail head is marked, and the trail is an easy 0.2 mile which leads to an observation deck. As with most waterfalls, the better views are slightly off of the deck.  You can access the base of the waterfall where you will find yourself standing on the rocky boudaries of the basin.

In my opinion, this waterfall is not quite as nice as the others in Hanging Rock. It is more of a water slide, where the water cascades slowly down the steep mountain side. These are not my favorite types, but is worth a look if you are in the park. Try to go when the water levels are up so the amount of water flowing is more impressive. Judging from the surrounding scenery, Autumn would be the time to visit this particular waterfall.

Edit 09-23-2007

I still stand by my original opinion that this is not one of the best falls that Hanging Rock has to offer, however, after this last trip, I will say that I like it a bit more than I had remembered. Being the easiest hike to a waterfall in the park, this is a good visit for those that would like to see a waterfall, but don't want to hike far to get there. The best views are still afforded from the ground level which is just a few flights of stairs below the trail. Once at the bottom, you can get as close to the waterfall as you would like to. After cascading down the falls, the water takes a lazy path to a second drop, which you can see in the photo above. This takes a bit of maneuvering to get to, and is not worth the effort unless you just want a picture.

Since this waterfall is very easy to get to, be aware that during peak seasons, it will serve you better to start early. By 10-11am you will be joined by families, and other hikers.  If your intention is quiet enjoyment, you will undoubtedly be disappointed.

Edit 01-27-2010

My opinion has once again changed about this waterfall.  On this most recent visit, I went right after a series of heavy rains.  The water levels were up well above normal and there was a lot more water flowing over the rocks.  For the first time, this waterfall looked more like a cascade and less like a simple waterslide.  With a heavy water flow this waterfall can be quite impressive and brings it up among the best ones in the park to visit.  However, without this boost in water, the waterfall is less than exciting.  An added note is that the best time to photograph this waterfall seems to be in the early morning hours on an overcast day.

Edit 09-15-2017

I have heard about another waterfall that was located below the Upper Cascades, but until recently I had not been able to find it.  It does take a little work to get to, but it is worth the trip.  You will need to be prepared for a scramble down an often muddy hill to get to it.  Fortunately, the climb back up is easier than the descent.  It is a small little waterfall, but it does lend itself to some interesting photographs.

Golden Nugget
To find the access path, you will need to look to the left of the trail as you are leaving the Upper Cascades.  As the trail goes flat after the boardwalks, you will see a place where the vegetation has been trampled just a little bit.  Look for places where the slope has been worn away.  There will be a boulder field to the left at the bottom.  That is where you want to be.  Once you scramble down the hill, you will cut to the left and work around the large rocks.  You will then see this small waterfall.  To my knowledge, it is not a named waterfall, but it is worth a look.  It does tend to stay in the shade for a long time in the morning which makes photography quite easy as you don't have to wait for a cloudy day.

I would also like to point out that this waterfall has a lot of intimate details that make it a great subject for isolations.

Nature's Movements


jlocorriere05 said...

It's pretty Greg! I love to watch and listen to waterfalls, something so soothing about them. Jeannette.

rjet33 said...

I want that in my backyard!  I love to hear the sound of water running.  I miss being able to go out my back door and see the catfish pond.  There is something very soothing about water whether it is still or moving unless it is a flood, of course!~  ::wink::

Have a great week and be safe!~