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Flooded Falls

posted Aug 6, 2018, 1:26 PM by Justin P   [ updated Aug 11, 2018, 2:54 PM ]

It had rained almost nonstop for the last week and there was flooding in the mountains so a great time to chase waterfalls.  We left at 5 and headed to NC-215 north of Rosman.  Our first stop was a gravel pull off 2.6 north of US-64.  We continued on the road a hundred feet or so to a smaller grassy pull off and then bushwhacked down towards Big Bearwallow Creek.  There was some semblance of a path, but it was very steep.  As we got close to the creek, we could see something upstream, but there was no path at all.  We had to cross the creek and wade through dig hobble to the base.

It was a fairly nice drop, though it was really covered in rhododendron and dead trees.  And this was not the waterfall, though it could be considered the upper section.  A little further downstream was the top of Big Bearwallow Falls.

It was very steep and slippery getting down to the base and across the creek, but it was a very nice waterfall, especially in high water.

A tree growing here had a number of mushrooms growing on it.

Our next stop was just up NC-215 off Macedonia Church Road.  Lemon Falls was just down from the road and some stone steps made a path down.

Not a high waterfall, but very scenic.  The water was too deep to cross for a picture.  The water was too deep to cross for a picture.  From here, we continued north on NC-215 to Courthouse Creek Road (FR-140).  Along the way, we stopped at Sumney Cove Falls.  An unnamed tributary in Sumney Cove drops into North Fork French Broad River on the other side.

It was mostly obscured by summer foliage, but was really flowing in the high water.  North Fork was way too high to wade to the other side.

We then drove to the parking for Courthouse Falls.  A short hike along Courthouse Falls Trail (#130) and Sumney Cove Trail (#129) led to a split where Courthouse Falls Trail goes left and Sumney Cove Trail goes right.  We went straight and followed a scramble path down to Mill Station Creek near the base of Cody Falls.  Cody Falls is very similar in appearance to Courthouse Falls but smaller.

I waded the creek to the other side for some pictures but the sun had come out.  Climbing back up to the trail, we made a quick stop to see Courthouse Falls.

We've visited several times before but this was definitely the highest water.  Near the falls was a weeping rock with a number of downy lobelia blooming.

Butterflies were all about about, pollinating the flowers.  Back to the main road, we continued up to the parkway and went south about 3 miles to the pull off at Haywood Gap.  A lot of cutleaf coneflower were blooming along the parkway.


Heading eastbound on MST, the trail split almost immediately and we went left onto Haywood Gap Trail (#142) and into Middle Prong Wilderness.  The trail descended steeply eventually picking up Haywood Gap Stream and followed it downstream.  About half a mile down, we crossed the creek and the trail leveled off a bit.  Just over a mile from the parkway, the trail forded Middle Prong.   Here, we got off the trail and creek walked a shortways upstream to the confluence of Haywood Gap and Buckeye Creek.  It was another 1000 feet or so to Buckeye Falls, but the creek walking was tough in high water.  Three decent size cascades were quite challenging to climb up before we made it to the base of Buckeye Falls.

As we approached the waterfall, we could see the whole thing, but at the base we could only see the lowest section.

We decided not to try and climb any higher and turned around from here.  Along the hike back, we spotted some Indian Pipe, an interesting plant that does not photosynthesize.

It was all uphill back to the car, but only the last part was particularly steep.  On the way to Waynesville, we stopped for a couple easy waterfalls along NC215.  First, we stopped at Little Wildcat Falls.  An unnamed tributary drops under the road and flows into West Fork Pigeon River near the confluence with Bubbling Springs Branch.

Normally, there's not much to see, but it's a nice roadside waterfall in high water.  A pipevine swallowtail butterfly was next to the road here.

Next, we stopped at Sunburst Falls.  Upstream of the bridge, the river was raging.

So much so, that we couldn't get down to see the lower section.  Finally, we made one more stop where the road crosses Green Creek.

A lot of wildflowers were blooming here including beebalm and impatiens.

A short hike led to the scenic Little Bird Falls.

The water was higher than the last time I visited and the setting was reminiscent of a tropical rain forest.

By this time, it was getting late so we headed to Waynesville for dinner and checked in to the Econo Lodge.