Journal/Blog

Dogwood Canyon

posted Oct 16, 2018, 4:42 PM by Justin P   [ updated Oct 16, 2018, 4:42 PM ]

Tuesday, we checked out of the hotel and headed east towards Missouri.  Crossing the state line near Joplin, we got off the highway for our first waterfall in Missouri.  Grand Falls is right along the side of the road.  It's only 12 feet high, but over 100 feet wide.  There are a lot of rocks at the base to climb around and view the falls from different angles.  A dam is just above the falls and only the lower section is natural.  After some pictures, we continued into the Ozarks towards Roaring River State Park.  Parking near the lodge, we first hiked the Devil's Kitchen Trail.  At the split, we went right to follow the loop counterclockwise.  Numbered stakes along the trail correspond to points of interest, but we didn't have the trail guide yet.  The trail followed along some interesting dolomite limestone cliffs with horizontal cracks.  The cracks were so straight, they almost appeared to be man-made.  There were several small caves along the cliffs.  Stake #2 marked a shelter cave that had been used by Native Americans for thousands of years.  A lignite cave was at #3 and this one was pretty deep.  The ceiling was narrow and I didn't want to crawl in there - it was very dark.  After this point, the trail looped back around to lead around the top of the cliffs and ascended to a ridge where it was pretty flat.  We could see the entrance road to the park from here.  A good number of wildflowers were blooming up here.  As the trail started to descend, we passed more cliffs and rock formations, eventually leading to Devil's Kitchen at stake #9.  The cave had collapsed in recent years but it was really cool to see the huge boulders that had made a "room" in the limestone.  Those collapsed rocks were huge - good thing nobody was in there when they fell.  Finishing up the loop, we stopped by the park office to pick up the trail brochure so we could identify the different points in retrospect.  We were heading to Branson, but wanted to get another hike in, so hit the short River Trail that started right by the amphitheater.  There were more wildflowers blooming as we hiked along the trail.  And there was a huge spider at one point.  He was kind enough to keep his web off the trail.  This trail also led next to another rock wall and many plants were growing out of the side.  The trail ended at a fishing spot on the river and we turned around here.  From Roaring River, we drove to Branson and parked at the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area.  This small natural area protects a beautiful landscape of glades around Dewey Cove.  We hiked the Glades Trail through and open area and then turned right on Streamside Trail and then right again on Shane's Shortcut.  In a short ways was Dewey Cove, where there's a waterfall when the water level is up.  But there was absolutely no water flowing today.  It was still a nice area and I saw a little mud turtle in the dry creek bed.  Heading back, we went the other way in the loops and stopped at the overlook for a view of the glades.  Before leaving, we hiked the paved trail up to the lookout tower.  Climbing up to the top, there were nice views of Branson and I could see a storm moving in.  From here, we headed back to the car.  We had one more waterfall to visit and it was just a short drive to the trailhead for Branson's Waterfall Trail.  The rain was starting so we dinner rain jackets.  The rain picked up as we hiked the short trail, but plenty of rock overhangs provides shelter.  At one point, there was a bright flash of lightning and loud bang of thunder.  Another couple hiking back were carrying umbrellas, probably not the smartest thing in a thunderstorm.  We stopped at an overhang next to Cotton Rock Falls and I got some pictures before heading back.  It was getting late now, so we headed to the Stone Castle hotel and checked in.  The rain did not relent, but we were hungry, so headed to Danna's BBQ for dinner.  After dinner, we thawed out in the hot tub and went to bed.

Roaring River

posted Oct 16, 2018, 4:27 PM by Justin P

Tuesday, we checked out of the hotel and headed east towards Missouri.  Crossing the state line near Joplin, we got off the highway for our first waterfall in Missouri.  Grand Falls is right along the side of the road.  It's only 12 feet high, but over 100 feet wide.  There are a lot of rocks at the base to climb around and view the falls from different angles.  A dam is just above the falls and only the lower section is natural.  After some pictures, we continued into the Ozarks towards Roaring River State Park.  Parking near the lodge, we first hiked the Devil's Kitchen Trail.  At the split, we went right to follow the loop counterclockwise.  Numbered stakes along the trail correspond to points of interest, but we didn't have the trail guide yet.  The trail followed along some interesting dolomite limestone cliffs with horizontal cracks.  The cracks were so straight, they almost appeared to be man-made.  There were several small caves along the cliffs.  Stake #2 marked a shelter cave that had been used by Native Americans for thousands of years.  A lignite cave was at #3 and this one was pretty deep.  The ceiling was narrow and I didn't want to crawl in there - it was very dark.  After this point, the trail looped back around to lead around the top of the cliffs and ascended to a ridge where it was pretty flat.  We could see the entrance road to the park from here.  A good number of wildflowers were blooming up here.  As the trail started to descend, we passed more cliffs and rock formations, eventually leading to Devil's Kitchen at stake #9.  The cave had collapsed in recent years but it was really cool to see the huge boulders that had made a "room" in the limestone.  Those collapsed rocks were huge - good thing nobody was in there when they fell.  Finishing up the loop, we stopped by the park office to pick up the trail brochure so we could identify the different points in retrospect.  We were heading to Branson, but wanted to get another hike in, so hit the short River Trail that started right by the amphitheater.  There were more wildflowers blooming as we hiked along the trail.  And there was a huge spider at one point.  He was kind enough to keep his web off the trail.  This trail also led next to another rock wall and many plants were growing out of the side.  The trail ended at a fishing spot on the river and we turned around here.  From Roaring River, we drove to Branson and parked at the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area.  This small natural area protects a beautiful landscape of glades around Dewey Cove.  We hiked the Glades Trail through and open area and then turned right on Streamside Trail and then right again on Shane's Shortcut.  In a short ways was Dewey Cove, where there's a waterfall when the water level is up.  But there was absolutely no water flowing today.  It was still a nice area and I saw a little mud turtle in the dry creek bed.  Heading back, we went the other way in the loops and stopped at the overlook for a view of the glades.  Before leaving, we hiked the paved trail up to the lookout tower.  Climbing up to the top, there were nice views of Branson and I could see a storm moving in.  From here, we headed back to the car.  We had one more waterfall to visit and it was just a short drive to the trailhead for Branson's Waterfall Trail.  The rain was starting so we dinner rain jackets.  The rain picked up as we hiked the short trail, but plenty of rock overhangs provides shelter.  At one point, there was a bright flash of lightning and loud bang of thunder.  Another couple hiking back were carrying umbrellas, probably not the smartest thing in a thunderstorm.  We stopped at an overhang next to Cotton Rock Falls and I got some pictures before heading back.  It was getting late now, so we headed to the Stone Castle hotel and checked in.  The rain did not relent, but we were hungry, so headed to Danna's BBQ for dinner.  After dinner, we thawed out in the hot tub and went to bed.

Flint Hills Waterfalls

posted Oct 16, 2018, 4:26 PM by Justin P   [ updated Oct 16, 2018, 4:26 PM ]

Monday, we left Emporia and headed south for more Kansas waterfalls in the southern Flint Hills area.  Our first stop was Elk Falls in the aptly named town of Elk Falls.  We first went to the north side of the bridge, but the road was closed so went around to the south side and parked.  An old bridge, closed to vehicular traffic, leads across the river and the waterfall was visible just upstream.  Wow, what a difference from yesterday.  This waterfall was really raging.  Crossing the bridge, we scrambled down to the river.  The water was too high to climb around much, so after a couple pictures, we went back up.  Another path led down from the other side and there was a guy fishing with his dog here.  We got a couple more pictures and the headed back to the car.  Continuing south, our next stop was at the new Sedan City Lake.  We parked at the end of the dam and picked up the hiking trail that led to the Old lake.  It was about 2 miles and the trail was very wet and swampy.  At the first tributary that entered the lake, there was a footbridge to cross.  It was an interesting arch bridge, but it was rather steep and the wood was very slippery with no footholds, so it took a couple times running up to get over.  A half-mile or so later, there was another of these bridges over a tributary, but this one wasn't as steep so easier to cross.  After this point, the trail followed the creek between the two lakes upstream and there was a lot of water, so the waterfall should be good.  Soon, we reached Chautauqua Falls at the spillway from the old lake.  With the really high flow, it was raging.  I first scrambled down to the creek, but there was a lot of vegetation in the way and couldn't get a good view.  And it was too steep and too much water to climb higher along the creek.  So I went back up and climbed out on to some rock ledges to get a nice view of the waterfall.  There were three streams flowing down.  There may have been a better view from the other side, but the water was too high and I think it's private property over there.  After some pictures, we headed back.  Our next stop was at Butcher Falls.  This one is on private property at Red Buffalo Ranch, but the landowner is nice enough to allow public access.  We parked along the road and made the short walk to the Falls.  The sun was starting to pop out, but enough clouds for a picture.  We then headed into Sedan and parked at Hollow Park.  A boardwalk led to Hollow Falls.  It's a small waterfall, but in a scenic Little park.  The park itself was worth the stop.  Lots of shade loving plants and we even saw a monarch butterfly.  Hollow Falls was our last waterfall for the day, but we wanted to get in one more hike.  Parking at the east trailhead for Elk River Trail, we were going to hike along this trail.  But right near the start, a footbridge had washed out and too much water to wade.  So we headed to the Elk City Lake overlook and hiked the Table Mound Trail.  The trail follows along the top of some rock outcrops, then makes a hairpin turn as it descends through the rocks.  Like Elk River Trail, this one has a lot of scrambling.  Not what you'd expect from a trail on Kansas.  The first part of the trail is a hairpin loop and where it turned, we had to scramble down through a crevasse in the rock.  Once down, we continued below the rocks with many overhangs and small caves.  This section to the road crossing was a lot of fun and very scenic.  Once across the road, it became more of a typical trail in the woods.  Although the trail followed the lake shore, it was a good ways from the lake and we couldn't see much.  After a mile or so, we decided to turn back and try and bushwhack out for some views of the lake.  The first spot went to a rocky overlook and I climbed down to lake level for a couple pictures.  Then we went out again near the road to a beach area.  It was quite hot and humid so we didn't stay out on the beach for too long.  Back on the trail, we continued back to the parking.  From here, we drove to Independence and checked in to Appletree Inn.  El Pueblitos was just up the road, so we had Mexican for dinner then went back to the hotel.  There was a waterfall at the pool so of course we had to go for a swim.  Then we retired for the evening.

Little Falls on the Prairie

posted Oct 14, 2018, 1:34 PM by Justin P   [ updated ]

The second week of October, we headed to the Kansas City area to get waterfalls in Kansas and Missouri, 2 more on the 50 states waterfall challenge.  We got to Kansas City Saturday evening and drove to Topeka.  After checking in to the Hampton Inn, we had sushi for dinner at Mizu and soaked in the hot tub before heading to bed.  Sunday morning, we headed south towards Overbrook, and parked along 129th Street next to the bridge over Camp Creek.  We picked up the Landon Nature Trail and hiked north through a field.  The trail was very overgrown and it was lightly drizzling so we wore water shoes for the short hike.  In about a half mile, there was an old railroad bridge.  Turning left, we followed the creek upstream a short ways to Swissvale Falls.  Despite the rain, the water level was quite low.

The water tumbles about 5 feet over a creek wide ledge.  A bit of fall color was showing to make up for the low water.

After a few pictures, we headed back.  Driving west, our next stop was Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area.  Pillsbury Crossing is a low water ford of Deep Creek that is protected as a small nature preserve.  Just downstream of the ford is the waterfall.  The creek drops about 6 feet over a creek wide ledge.  Although not very high, it had much better flow than the previous one.

We forded the creek and found a path to climb down to the base for some pictures.  Spanning the entire creek, Deep Creek Falls was very scenic.

I scrambled up to the very base of the falls to get a panorama of the waterfall.

Then we headed back to the car.  Our next stop was Geary Lake Falls at Geary State Fishing Lake & Wildlife Area.  This one is not a  natural one, it's the outflow from the lake and can dry up completely.  I was concerned there might be no water at all, but we would give it a shot.  We parked at the north end of the lake and hiked across the dam.  It was raining now and the lake was very foggy.

Across the dam, we could hear falling water and took a path right to the top of the falls.  There was definitely some water flow although it was not a torrent.

Continuing on the path led down to creek level and then upstream to the Falls.  It was quite scenic, even in low water.

But the rain started picking up, so we just got a couple pictures and headed back.  Our last waterfall for the day was Prather Creek Falls at Chase State Fishing Lake, about an hour south.  Again, we parked near the dam and then hiked across, following the spillway downstream.  The waterfall has three sections, but unfortunately, there was almost no water flowing.  The middle section is the most scenic if there was decent water flow.

But today, only the lowest section really looked anything like a waterfall.

A bunch of branches and limbs had fallen down here, so we moved them away to get a couple pictures.

Just a little fall color was starting to show.  As we made our way back, we stopped to see some of the wildflowers blooming along the dam.

Smooth sumac, goldenrod and even some azure blue sage were blooming along the dam.

The rain had cleared so we could see the lake well.

Across the dam, we returned to the car.  From here we drove through the cute little town of Cottonwood Falls.

After getting gas, we drove a short ways north to Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.  After getting our passport stamped, we headed out for a hike, hoping to see some bison.  Following the Bus Tour Road to Windmill Pasture, in about 1.5 miles, we saw two enormous bison grazing off the trail.  One kept an eye on us as we passed, but were otherwise mostly uninterested.  After about 2 miles, we came to a large herd right across the trail.  There must have been 40 or more bison here, including a number of calves.  We stopped a safe distance and watched them and got some pictures.  We thought they might eventually move along, but this was not the case.  So after a while, we just turned around as there was no safe way to get past this herd.  On the way back, we turned left on Davis Trail and headed down to a stream crossing.  At the intersection with Schoolhouse Spur, we turned right and headed to the Lower Fox Creek School.  Built in 1882, this one-room schoolhouse had been restored and was part of the preserve.  We continued south and took Southwind Nature Trail back to the ranch.  The house was really beautiful and not what I'd expect from a ranch house.  We walked around the area for a bit and checked out the really impressive 19th century ranch buildings.  We were starting to get hungry at this point, so departed the preserve and headed to Emporia to the Hampton Inn and checked in.  For dinner, we drove into downtown and had dinner at Radius Brewing.  It was a really good dinner and the Octoberfest Ale was delicious.  I was glad to try some Kansas beer.  Then we headed back to the hotel and retired for the evening.

Hiking in Hurricane Florence

posted Sep 16, 2018, 12:51 PM by Justin P   [ updated Sep 16, 2018, 12:51 PM ]

Hurricane Florence had minimal impact in the Triangle area.  And although local parks, state parks, national parks and even national forests were closed, Triangle Land Conservancy did not close their nature preserves.  It was still raining on Sunday, but only lightly, so we took Alex to Horton Grove Nature Preserve, north of Durham.  It rained for most of the hike, but never too hard and the trees absorbed most of it, so we managed to stay mostly dry.  Along Jordan Trail, we spotted a box turtle along the trail.


He didn't seem to mind the rain.  And we made a stop at the farm pond along Sowell Trail.


The water level was up, but it didn't look like any risk of imminent flooding.  In fact, all the trails around the preserve were in good shape and none of the bridges had washed out.  Alex was getting frustrated being stuck inside, so it was nice to get him out for a hike.


Overall, we hiked about 6 miles around the preserve and had a great time despite the dreary weather.

Woods Mountain on Labor Day

posted Sep 7, 2018, 2:54 PM by Justin P   [ updated Sep 22, 2018, 3:39 PM ]

Monday morning, I woke up and broke camp and left the Curtis Creek area.  Going east on US-70 to Marion, I took US-225 north to the Woodlawn Work Center where there is a trailhead for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.  Hiking MST westbound, the trail climbed gradually so was hoping it would stay this way.  After about a mile, however, it started to go down for about another mile to cross Toms Creek.


There were a lot of wildflowers blooming along here.  The devil's bite were particularly nice.


In a short ways, the trail then crossed South Fork Toms Creek at a concrete ford.  Not wanting to get my feet wet, I rock hopped a little downstream.  After this point, the trail started heading up very steeply.  With the heat and humidity, it was a brutal climb up.  It leveled off in places, but was all uphill to Woods Mountain.  A very overgrown spur trail led to the summit but there were no views from here.


A lookout tower had once stood here, but now all that's left are the concrete supports.  So I started hiking back down.  Before leaving the area, I wanted to get one more waterfall, so made the short drive to Toms Creek Falls.  Its only half a mile up Falls Branch Trail (#214) to the scenic waterfall.


I climbed around on the rocks to get some photos and then made the short hike back.  It was about a 3 hour drive home from here.

Green Knob and Hickory Branch

posted Sep 7, 2018, 2:50 PM by Justin P   [ updated Sep 21, 2018, 4:08 PM ]

Sunday I woke up and had breakfast at camp and didn't have to drive from Curtis Creek.  My first hike was up the very steep Snooks Nose Trail (#211).  I had been up to Snooks Nose before, but this time I wanted to hike all the way up to Green Knob.  The trail is brutally steep, so wanted to knock out the climb first thing in the morning.  But it was still hot and humid before 8 and so the climb up was painful.  In about an hour, I made it to Snooks Nose and stopped for a break.


Snooks Nose looks east so didn't have much in the way of views with the bright sunlight.  The next 2 miles to the parkway were uphill but not nearly so steep.  After a total of about 4 miles, I made it to the end of the trail at Green Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.


The overlook had great views looking down towards Curtis Creek.


Lots of false sunflower were blooming at the overlook.


Across the road, I picked up Green Knob Trail (#182) and went another half mile up to the summit.  There's a lookout tower here, but it's locked up so couldn't get in.


I did climb the stairs for a view of the Black Mountains hidden behind clouds.


After a snack, I started making my way back.  The views were better from Snooks Nose and I took a photo stop before the super steep downhill began.


Near the end, I got off the trail to find Slick Falls.  It's a tall waterfall, but the banks are so steep and overgrown with rhododendron, I couldn't get a much of a picture.


Back at camp, I had lunch and then started hiking Hickory Branch Trail (#213).  I stopped for some nice cascades along the creek.


After passing the Hickory Branch Falls, the trail crossed Hickory Branch twice and then a tributary.  Just past the last crossing was another waterfall.  Upper Hickory Branch Falls was a nice tiered waterfall, but there were several dead trees lying over it.


After this point, the trail got really steep and headed away from Hickory Branch and ending at Lead Mine Gap Trail (#212).  Going right, the trail became really overgrown and difficult to follow.  So I went the other way for about a mile before turning back..  I was pretty hungry by the time I got back to camp and headed to Las Salsas in Marion for dinner.

Old Fort Hikes

posted Sep 7, 2018, 2:48 PM by Justin P   [ updated Sep 19, 2018, 4:24 PM ]

Saturday, I headed out to the mountains for Labor Day Weekend.  Sandy had to work at the last minute, so I went out solo and tried not to get too many waterfalls without her.  I had a reservation for camping at Curtis Creek and didn't want to add too much extra driving so went to Old Fort for my first hike.  Parking at the picnic area, I backtracked to Old US-70 and headed to the eastern trailhead for Point Lookout Trail (#203).  Point Lookout Trail is a paved trail following the old route of US-70 and had nice views of the foothills and Royal Gorge.


In about 2 miles, I reached Point Lookout with a nice long range view towards Old Fort through the gorge.  This was once a popular stopping point along US-70 when it followed this route.


Finishing the trail at the other end, I followed the road towards I-40 and then to the trailhead for Kitsuma Peak trail (#205).  This trail runs right along the interstate then steeply climbs up its namesake via switchbacks.  The summit of Kitsuma Peak is forested but some cliffs on the north side provide nice views towards Asheville and the Black Mountains.


I took a little break here as it had been a steep climb up and enjoyed the views.


After a short rest, I followed Youngs Ridge Trail (#206) back to the Old Fort Picnic Area.  My next stop was the Catawba Falls trailhead.  Being a Saturday on a holiday weekend, the parking area was packed but I found a spot.  I got my stuff together and set off on the trail.  Since the last time I visited, a bridge was built over Catawba River near the start right where the ruins from the hydroelectric station are.


No more rock hopping the river.  It was really crowded at Catawba Falls so I headed steeply up to the upper falls, which is my favorite one.


A few people were swimming here.  One guy climbed part way up the falls and did a headstand - no wonder so many people die at this one.  After some pictures I headed back down.  It was still crowded at Catawba Falls and poor lighting for a picture.


Heading back, I climbed down for one more waterfall, Lower Catawba Falls.


It looked like part of the dam had washed away, but this one was really scenic in higher water.  Then I made the short hike back to the car.  After stopping in Old Fort for dinner, I headed to Curtis Creek to set up camp.  When I arrived, McDowell County Sheriff's Deputies were blocking my site.  Another camper was drinking (no alcohol permitted in Curtis Creek) and being rowdy so I guess they were issuing a citation.  After they left, I was able to set up.  Once the deputies left, the guy cracked another beer and turned up the music on his truck.  And soon enough, US Forest Service Rangers came by again and gave another citation.  Didn't kick them out though.  There was still an hour or so of daylight and I didn't really want to hang around camp with all the drama, so made the short hike to Hickory Branch Falls.


It was very scenic in the evening light.  As the sun began to set, I hiked back to camp and went to sleep.  Fortunately, the rowdy family quieted down after dark.

Overall Run Falls and Hawksbill

posted Aug 31, 2018, 3:19 PM by Justin P   [ updated Sep 16, 2018, 1:27 PM ]

Sunday, we packed up camp and had breakfast.  The rest of the group was doing Stony Man, another trail that dogs aren't allowed on.  So we hiked to see Overall Run Falls instead and planned to meet them at Hawksbill.  Overall Run Falls is the highest in Shenandoah, but it's on a small creek.  I had visited before, but it was barely a trickle.  So with the high water this weekend, I was hoping it would be a little more impressive.  There were some pretty wildflowers blooming along the trail to the waterfall.


In about 1.5 miles, we turned left on Tuscarora-Overall Run Falls and shortly came to the upper waterfall.  Upper Overall Run Falls is about 30 feet high and looked nice in the high water, but there was a lot of vegetation in the way. 


Shortly after that, we came to the overlook for the Overall Run Falls.  And it sure looked like a waterfall this time.


Trees in the canyon below blocked a view of the full falls, but it was very nice nonetheless.  The view from the overlook is fantastic as well.


Driving south on Skyline Drive, we headed to the Upper Hawksbill Trailhead and arrived with everybody else.  Upper Hawksbill Trail is the easiest route to Shenandoah's highest point.  The trail gains about 500 feet in a mile and wasn't bad at all.  Near the summit, we came to Byrds Nest No. 2 Shelter.


Just past here was the summit of Hawksbill.


The views from up here were really great.


Looking east, Old Rag was visible from the viewpoint.


After some pictures, we headed back down and continued on to Big Meadows.  We stopped at the visitor center to get our passport stamped and then to the Wayside to get some blackberry ice cream cake.  It was really yummy.  Alex had a couple bites too.  Finished with our snack, we said good-bye to everyone and started making the drive home.

Cedar Run and Whiteoak Canyon

posted Aug 31, 2018, 3:11 PM by Justin P   [ updated Sep 14, 2018, 4:20 PM ]

Saturday we had breakfast at camp and headed south on Skyline Drive.  The rest of the group was doing Old Rag, but we couldn't take Alex on those trails, so headed out for some waterfalls instead.  We made a stop at  Pass Mountain Overlook for a nice early morning view.


Then we made one more stop at Hazel Mountain Overlook, where we could see clouds over the foothills below.


From here, we continued on to our destination for the day - White Oak Canyon.  Parking at Hawksbill Gap, we started off hiking down Cedar Run Trail.  The trail followed its namesake creek steeply downhill.  With all the recent rains, the creek was really flowing, even up near the top.


There were a lot of nice drops along the creek, a few that might be considered a waterfall.  One in particular was especially nice with the water flowing down in three streams over a mess of huge boulders.


I called this one Cedar Run Canyon Falls as it was nice enough to deserve a name.  Another cascade was flowing enough to generate a small rainbow.


Soon we came to the top of Upper Cedar Run Falls.  There were some nice cascades above and a couple guys were swimming here.  Looking downstream, the water fell through a narrow canyon.  Continuing on the trail a short ways, we scrambled down to the base.


It's a really cool waterfall flowing through a very narrow canyon.  We saw the two guys from the top later on and suggested this as a good place to swim.  It wasn't much further to the Middle Falls and we came out at the top again.  In high water, we had to wade across the creek and climb down the rocks on the opposite side.


After a few pictures, we crossed back to get on the trail.  It was just a short ways further to the lower falls, but a very steep climb down the bank to the base.  Lower Cedar Run Falls was really beautiful and worth the difficult climb down.


On the way back up, I spotted an American Giant Millipede scurrying along a rock.


Shortly after this point, we ran into a volunteer with PATC who recommended we avoid the Link Trail and instead stay on Cedar Run Trail to the end at Whiteoak Canyon Trail.  We had to cross Cedar Run at a spot that was tricky in high water, but we managed to keep our feet dry (except Alex).  There was some nice cascades upstream.


Shortly after this point was the split and we took the guy's advice.  When we reached the point where the Link Trail meets Whiteoak Canyon Trail, the wade would have been difficult so appreciated the advice.  Now we were following White Oak Canyon upstream.  It was half a mile or so further to the beginning of the waterfalls.  Before we reached the lowest one, we followed Tims River up a short ways to Tims River Falls.


It looked like the waterfall kept going up, but it would have been a tough climb.  Back on the main trail, we crossed Tims River on a down tree and noticed a little snake on part of the tree.


Stopping at the base of White Oak Canyon Falls #6, we had a nice lunch and enjoyed the view.


After lunch, I went closer to the base for some photos, then found a side path off the main trail that headed up to the top.  Scrambling further upstream, we made it to the base of Whiteoak Canyon Falls #5.


With the water level way up, I couldn't get out far enough to get an unobstructed view.  To get to #4, we would have to wade at the base and then climb up the other side.  Alex was already getting tired so we decided to pass on this one and headed back to the main trail.  White Oak Canyon Trail was not so easy either, especially heading up, but at least it's a trail.  After many stairs and switchbacks, Waterfall #3 soon came into sight.  Scrambling down from the trail, there was an interesting seasonal waterfall flowing down a cliff face.


There's no creek or intermittent stream - just a lot of water flowing down a cliff.  This certainly doesn't exist in normal water conditions, but it was pretty cool to see.  It would have been tough to get to the base of #3 in such high water, so we just headed back to the trail to see Whiteoak Creek Falls #3 from the overlook.


In between the waterfalls, the creek was not flat.  There were plenty of drops and cascades that were nearly waterfalls themselves.


Next up was White Oak Canyon Falls #2, kind of a crappy name for such a nice waterfall.


All of these waterfalls, in fact, deserve more than a number as they were really spectacular and so close together.  In another half-mile, we made it to #1 and went out on the overlook for a view of the highest waterfall in the canyon at more than 80 feet.


After some pictures, we continued on the trail and crossed the creek on a bridge, then took the fire road back to the parking.  When we were close to the trailhead, a young bear popped out of the woods.  He was up above us on the trail, but essentially following us from above.


I was a little concerned with Alex, who was definitely interested in a potential new friend.  Fortunately, the bear wasn't too interested in us and eventually disappeared into the woods.  Back at the car, we headed to Big Meadows for dinner.  The restaurant there is dog-friendly, but it was a long line, so we ate outside from the tap room instead.


After dinner, we headed back to camp for the evening.

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