NC Waterfalls – Book Review

North Carolina Waterfalls
North Carolina Waterfalls

There are birders, peak baggers and there are waterfallers – people who collect waterfalls. Carolina Mountain Club has a waterfall challenge, the WC100.

But a hundred waterfalls barely scratches the surface.

In the third edition of North Carolina Waterfalls, photographer Kevin Adams describes 1,000 waterfalls in the state. Adams is a nature photographer who exhibits, sells his photographs, and holds photo workshops.

He is considered the waterfall expert in North Carolina.

What makes his waterfall books exceptional is Adams’ attention to details. For each waterfall, he cites the accessibility (trail, bushwhack or even driving, I guess), elevation, landowner (park, forest, or private), hike distance and difficulty, and more facts.

Hanging Rock State Park
Hanging Rock State Park

But my favorite is the beauty rating. Of course it’s his book and his ratings.

So I looked at Window Falls, a beautiful  waterfall in Hanging Rock State Park in the Piedmont on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Adams gives Window Falls a Beauty Rating of 4. I’m surprised that the waterfall is even here. It’s probably the last waterfall on the MST, going east.

Triple Falls
Triple Falls

Then I looked at the waterfalls in Dupont State Recreational Forest, in Transylvania County, the Land of Waterfalls. His highest rating for the waterfalls in the forest is Triple Falls, Beauty Rating – 9.

So I reread his criteria.

These are subjective beauty ratings (1 to 10), independent of where they’re located. So waterfalls in the Western North Carolina mountains are bound to get higher ratings than those in less mountainous regions. But like I said, the ratings are his. I’m sure that he’s always asked what his favorite waterfall is, like I’m asked what my favorite national park unit is. As if you could have one favorite with a thousand waterfalls.

Adams was out to document every single waterfall that he could in the whole state. So he lists waterfalls on private land. He also has “secret falls” even on public land. That’s a different approach from my outdoor writings. In all my writing, I make sure that readers can do everything I write about – given enough time and energy, of course.

Waterfall safety

Adams says correctly, that “waterfalls don’t reach out and grab people and fling them over the top.” People get too careless, climb up when they should stay below, and sometimes slip and fall. As I write this, the headlines in the Asheville Citizen-Times reads:
                     Woman falls 160 feet at Rainbow, dies.
The victim was on top of the waterfall, a waterfall that ironically is rated a 10.

Kevin Adams
Kevin Adams

Here are the details:
Published by John F. Blair Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-89587-653-9
Paperback, $29.95

8” x 10”, 560 pages, 310 color photos

PS Kevin Adams will be the featured speaker at the Carolina Mountain Club annual dinner on November 5. I can’t wait to meet him.

Join CMC and save the date.

From the MST off Waterrock Knob

Waterrock Knob Park?

Big news on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Waterrock Knob has been in the news lately. On National Trails Day, Carolina Mountain Club and Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail opened a section of the MST around the Knob.

Now the Conservation Fund has been acquiring thousands of acres around Waterrock Knob over the last few years. The Blue Ridge Parkway is planning to turn the
Knob into a park similar to what it has done at Price Park and Doughton
Park. They are having a big announcement on August 23rd and all are

WaterrockKnob steps
WaterrockKnob steps

The Conservation Fund says that “An effort to conserve more than 5,000 acres in the Plott Balsam Mountains and much of the spectacular views from Waterrock Knob will be achieved through collaborative efforts led by The Conservation Fund and the National Park Service, with significant donations from The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Trust for North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

This tremendous conservation success was made possible in part with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Fred and Alice Stanback, Brad and Shelli Stanback and other private supporters.” A lot of groups had a hand in this.

But an interview with  Bill Holman, NC state director of The Conservation Fund, done a couple of years ago by Smoky Mountain News, hints at more than picnic tables and even camping spots.

What if the NC Wildlife Commission managed the land as open meadow? Could it attract elk?

Elk in the Smokies
Elk in the Smokies

Elk are getting crowded in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and could move into Waterrock Knob Park, given the right circumstances.

Wow! That might be the only place where MST hikers might see elk in their natural habitat!

A lot to think about! In the meantime, plan to go to Waterrock Knob on August 23 and ask questions.

Here’s the formal invitation. Waterrock Knob 8-23-16 Invitation

At Puye Cliffs

Family Nature Summits – It’s more than just hiking!

Hiking, Painting, Boating, Dancing
Each enchanting, at Family Nature Summit all together awesome

At 11,000 feet
At 11,000 feet


So it’s not great poetry or a haiku but it pretty much sums up a week at Family Nature Summits.

As you might expect, I spend most of my free time hiking with adults.

I climbed to 11,000 feet on the Continental Divide Trail. After a practice hike, the altitude wasn’t has much of a problem as I had thought.

That’s when I wasn’t dropping off six-year old Isa to her group, picking her up or watching her in the pool. I wasn’t the only grandparent at the Summit. Here’s a photo of a bunch of us waiting for our young ‘un.

Grandparents brigade at FNS
Grandparents brigade at FNS

But it was more than hiking.

One day, I went on a mystery hike. When I heard “mystery”, I first thought that our esteemed leader, Dave L., had gotten permission to hike on private land. But no, this was in the Coyote Ranger District of Santa Fe National Forest.

Dave had gotten all the right permits from the Forest Service to park at the base of Tsi-p’in-owinge’, on a small mesa at 7,400 feet. The English reference is Flaking Stone Mountain. Once we parked, we climbed on old, unmaintained trail to the remains of a pueblo.

On Flaking Stone Mountain
On Flaking Stone Mountain

We found old bricks and bits of pottery. Of course, we left everything as we found it. Several kivas had been carved out of the bedrock. There may have been almost 1,500 rooms in the pueblo.

And then I realized that these artifacts were of the same culture, the same people that I seen at Bandalier National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park.

But the US Forest Service doesn’t preserve and protect and usually doesn’t restore. The best that they were going to do is to put a little barrier between visitors and the pueblo remains. If this site was on National Park Service land, it would have paved parking, bathrooms and a color brochure.

On the last day, I decided to forgo a hike and visit Puye Cliffs owned by the Santa Clara Pueblo people. Along with the modern casino, the Santa Clara people own and protect their Puye Cliffs.  They’ve restored their ancestral homes. See the picture above.

You can only visit the Cliffs with a native guide. Stephanie, our guide, explained that she spoke Tewa, the same language spoken by the “mystery hike” Pueblo people. Her people have no desire to have the federal government take over the Cliffs.

“An archeologist, Edgar Hewett, came to look at our artifacts in 1907. He took some stuff for his own use and disrespected our people. We may never excavate the mesa.” A little internet search revealed that Hewett was quite an influential archeologist in the Southwest.

But I will always remember Stephanie, as we remember all kindred spirits. She explained that one would have to climb a ladder up to the Mesa and back down. But what if you have a fear of heights?

“If you have a fear of heights,” Stephanie said, “today might be the day to conquer your fears.” YES!

I couldn’t have done all those visits, similar but so different if you look below the surface, without going to Family Nature Summits.