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Blowing Rock Waterfalls

posted Apr 18, 2017, 6:02 AM by Justin P   [ updated Apr 24, 2017, 3:03 PM ]
For the holiday weekend, Amanda and I headed to the Grandfather Mountain area.  We took US-421 towards Boone and got off in Wilkesboro on NC-16/18 to our first waterfall of the day - Moravian Falls.

We parked at the campground here and checked in, then walked across the street to view the waterfall.  It's a nice 40-foot sliding waterfall with a replica mill right next to it.  I kind of thought the mill distracted from the scene so got close enough to crop out any of the buildings.

After a couple pictures, we got back in the car and continued on.  We took NC-18 to Lenoir and then took US-321 north towards Blowing Rock.  About half way, we got off the highway and took Waterfalls Road to a pull-off at Silvervale Falls.

Silvervale Falls is a nice roadside waterfall.  Unfortunately, it's a also a popular place for graffiti, which spoils the natural setting.

We got a couple pictures and then continued on to Blowing Rock.  We parked at the Annie Cannon Gardens and started hiking the Glen Burney Trail.  The trail follows New Years Creek downstream, passing several waterfalls.  The trail starts out as an old road and we could tell we were still in town.  Houses are visible on both sides of the creek and we could hear the noise of traffic.  In about a half-mile, the trail switchbacks down to the creek, passing the ruins of an old sewer plant that served Blowing Rock until 1929.

At this point, the trail starts to feel more like wilderness and less like city hiking.  About a quarter-mile further, we came to the Cascades, the first waterfall on the hike.

In relatively high water, this waterfall looked very nice.  There were some scenic drops and then a big lower drop.  I scrambled down to creek level for a photo of the entire thing.

Then we continued following the trail downstream, passing an overlook of Glen Burney Falls.  The view was obscured by trees and not very good.  Further down, we came to a split and first went right to the base of Glen Burney Falls.

I scrambled around on the rocks to view the waterfall from different angles, but unfortunately, the bright sun was shining right on it.

After some pictures, we headed back to the split and continued to Glen Marie Falls at the end of the trail.  I scrambled around on the rocks to get a good picture, but there's nowhere to see the entire thing.

From the base, I could only see the lower parts of the falls.  Climbing back up, I found an overlook with a decent view of the upper part, but the lower part was hidden.

From here, we went south from Blowing Rock on Globe Road for about 3.5 miles and turned right on Forest Road 4071.  It was steep in places, but we didn't have trouble in a 2WD RAV4.  We parked at the gate at about 2.5 miles and donned water shoes for this hike.  After crossing China Creek at a concrete ford, we turned left on a trail following the creek downstream.  A number of irises, foamflower, and other wildflowers were blooming along the creek.

In under a half-mile, the trail crossed China Creek.  Instead, we continued a short ways to Thunderhole Creek and crossed here.  A short path led upstream to a steep climb to the base of Thunderhole Falls.  A rope tied to a tree made the descent a bit easier.  Thunderhole Falls was a really nice waterfall.

The upper drop is split into two and then some smaller cascades below.  I climbed up to the lower drop for a great view of this waterfall.

After some pictures, we started heading back.  At the China Creek crossing, we crossed and followed the creek downstream.  After the confluence, it becomes Thunderhole Creek.  After two more water crossings, we climbed high up on a bluff and followed a steep path down to the Lower Thunderhole Falls.

Although not as scenic as the upper waterfall, there was one of the nicest swim holes I've ever seen here.  It was a little cold and I didn't have a swimsuit or towel, but the water was extremely tempting.

We got some pictures and then climbed back up and headed back.  Towards the car, we stopped to see some more wildflowers and were surprised to see some mountain bikers.

I think this is an extension of China Creek Trail (#250) that starts in Blowing Rock.  We drove back to Blowing Rock and got on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Julian Memorial Price Park, our home for the weekend.  Only A loop was open, but we found a nice site at A12.  After registering and getting set up, we took a hike around Price Lake.  The lake was really beautiful on this April afternoon.

Passing the Lakeview Overlook, we saw the boat rentals were open, but we decided to just hike around the lake.  There were a good number of people paddling on the lake and a few even had their dogs.

After finishing the loop, we headed into town and had dinner at Foggy Rock.  After dinner, we got some firewood and built a nice campfire before retiring for the evening.