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Upper Whitewater Slot Canyon

posted Jul 27, 2016, 6:36 AM by Justin P   [ updated Aug 10, 2016, 4:54 AM ]

Last weekend, Sandy and I headed to the mountains to visit the amazing Upper Whitewater Slot Canyon.  Sandy had to work Friday evening, so we left very early Saturday morning and drove out to the Ingles in Cashiers.  After meeting up with the group, we drove south on NC-107 to Heady Mountain Road and followed this to the end at the bridge over Whitewater River.  We got our stuff together and began our hike into the forest.  Shortly, we came to a dilapidated old house near the river.

Just past here, we got off the trail and started creek walking down to Nasty Falls.  We came out near the top of the waterfall and climbed down a steep rock to the base.

This small waterfall just above the slot canyon has a lot of downfall at the base giving it a nasty look, though I think the name came from the whitewater community.  Then we continued creek walking downstream to the top of Entrance Falls – the beginning of the slot canyon.

Entrance Falls is a series of cascades over pot holes as the river enters the slot canyon.  We had lunch here on the rocks at the rim of the canyon and enjoyed the amazing views.

A very steep and overgrown path led to a perch roughly in the middle of the canyon with views of the beautiful Sculpted Falls.  It was a treacherous overlook, so only stayed here long enough for some pictures, but this could be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

When we were done here, we creek-walked upstream a short ways and got on a trail that headed to the base of the slot canyon.  It was an easy trail at first, but became excessively steep at the end, requiring ropes to get down the steep sections.  The last part was really bad – we had to rappel down an almost vertical wet rock and navigate the tree branches while coming down.  Once down, we were at the base of Exit Falls, the end of the slot canyon.

We waded and swam in the water here and got some great pictures of this waterfall.  Next, we headed up to the top of Exit Falls.  First, we had to climb through a cave near the base.  It was a little tricky rock scrambling on wet rocks in the dark.  Emerging from the cave, we were now about half-way up Exit Falls.  We had to jump up to an overhanging ledge and climb further up, then come back down to the top of Exit Falls.  Here, we swam around in the water at the slot canyon to view Little Canyon Falls, the last waterfall in the slot canyon.  To view the falls dry, I had to cross the top of Exit Falls and climb up a steep ledge for a view.

We unexpectedly ran into some other people in the slot canyon here.  They were canyoneering and were setting up rappelling gear to go down Exit Falls.  It was quite a surprise to see other people in such a remote location.  From here, we headed back down to the base of Exit Falls and follow a path downstream to Bedrock Betty Falls.

We first came out to the top of the falls, then continued on the path to the base.  We swam around in the pool at the base for a while then started making our way back.

Rather than backtracking, we followed the trail around to avoid the river and canyon on the way back.  We did stop for a little while at an old school bus along the trail.  I have no idea how it got here, but clearly hunters had been using it for target practice.   After some pictures, we headed back to the trailhead.  A few from the group headed home, while the rest of us headed to Ralph Andrews Park on Lake Glenville to camp for the evening.  Sunday morning, after breaking camp, Sandy and I headed to High Falls.  Although Duke Energy was not opening the dam today, Sandy had never been and since we were so close to the trailhead, I figured we might as well stop by.  This was my first time coming in from the upper trailhead at the Pines Recreation Area.  After parking, we followed the old road down to the base of High Falls.  There are a lot of steps and it’s quite steep.  At the bottom, we stopped for a few pictures and started making our way back up.

It was very humid and so the uphill was slow going.  Above the top of High Falls, we could see First Falls upstream on the river.  We made the slow hike back to the car and then headed into Cashiers for breakfast at Bucks Coffee.  We met Badger and the others and had a relaxing breakfast and coffee, before wewe started making our way back home.  We got off I-26 near Saluda and followed US-176 down along the North Pacolet River.  We parked on this road in between the twin bridges over the river at the trailhead for Melrose Falls.  The trail and area around the waterfall are protected by the Pacolet Area Conservancy.  It’s a fairly easy hike to this waterfall, but the heat and humidity made it rough.  As we approached the waterfall, we climbed down to a rock outcrop overlooking the waterfall.

The view was partially obscured by trees, but the waterfall was still very scenic.  The water level was a little low, but this was definitely a nice waterfall.  After a few pictures, we made our way back.  We drove back through Saluda and followed Holbert Cove Road into Green River Game Lands.  Passing the very crowded trailhead for Bradley and Little Bradley Falls, we tried to turn right on a game land road.  But it was gated, so we parked along the road here.  It was about three-quarters of a mile to the end of the gated road.  At the end of the road, we crossed Ostin Creek and followed the remnants of an old road downstream.  The path was very overgrown and difficult to follow.  Eventually we went around a ridge and crossed a small tributary.  Past this crossing, we started bushwhacking down towards the creek to Fungi Falls.  The bushwhack was brutally steep and difficult, made that much worse by the high temperatures and humidity.  Eventually, I made it to the base of the waterfall for a picture, then started climbing back up.

It was too hot to linger.  We finished the hike back at the car and started making our way home.  We stopped in Kannapolis for Mexican at Los Arcos.