Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Maidenhair Falls

Saturday was a perfect day for waterfall photography. So even though I was battling a cold, I dragged myself out of bed and drove to Conway to meet up with Zack. Our destination was a series of hollows near Moccasin Gap that contains dozens of waterfalls.

After parking on the side of Hwy. 7, we headed out into the woods. We soon met up with a small stream, which had a few little drops and waterfalls in it. But there wasn’t much water in the creek, which got me a bit worried. The area did live up to its reputation, we saw many waterfalls along the bluffs. But they were all just barely running. I was beginning worry that while we would see plenty of waterfalls, there wouldn’t actually be much water falling through them.

The first stop was the 36 foot tall Cabin Falls. I was a little annoyed to see that there wasn't much water flowing through the falls. But we set up the cameras and got to work taking a few pictures. Here is one, which I realize isn’t the greatest of pictures, but it does show an odd feature of the waterfall. Next to the waterfall, under the overhanging bluff, is a small stone structure that is about two feet tall. It is almost shaped like a casket, and it looks like it has been here for awhile. This is a pretty isolated area that probably doesn’t see that many people come through - so how’d it get there? We tried to figure out who might have built this, or why. The best consensus on what it might be is that it was used as a still back in the moonshine days…

We walked along the bluffline and met another creek, which had a little bit of water in it. We followed it past a few small cascades and then wandered around a bit more. Eventually, we dropped down the hillside and met up with a larger creek. This creek was flowing, and finally, even had some decent waterfalls on it…

This one is about 10 feet tall, and kinda reminded me of Falling Water Falls...

All my previous worries about finding waterfalls were gone – this little creek was filled with them. This waterfall, which is maybe 20 feet or so(?), fell from a side drainage into the creek.


We followed this creek a bit further and found this small waterfall. It's actually a twin fall, with another creek running down and joining this one. This is a view of the larger of the two waterfalls.

Our last destination that day was Maidenhair Falls, which was nearby but not very easy to reach. We followed a small drainage and then hiked along the hillside above the creek that the falls are on. The hills were very steep here, and we had to carefully make our way back down to the creek (I gave up and just slid down the hill toward the creek).

I thought this would be an easier hike, but that would prove to be easier said than done. The hills closed in on the creek, so that the only way forward was to actually walk along the creek towards the falls. This was fine, until we came upon another waterfall that was maybe 15 feet tall or so. The easiest way through was to actually climb up the rocks on the waterfall (which I was surprised to discover that the rocks weren't slippery). From there it was just a short walk to Maidenhair Falls.

Maidenhair Falls is pretty - the falls are 30 feet tall and tumble over the bluff before spilling down a tall cascade. In a pool below the falls, a bit of foam was caught in a whirlpool. So we both rushed and tried to quickly set up our cameras to get some pictures of it.

The hike to Maidenhair Falls is listed as a "medium bushwhack" in the Waterfall Guidebook, but I think Tim Ernst is being a bit generous there. The hike out, or at least the way he went, was pretty difficult. The distance wasn't all that much, but we ended up heading right up some steep hills. I was pretty tired by the time we got back to Zack's Jeep, but it was well worth it. And even if the hike sucked, it would be worth it to return to this area when there is more water in the falls...

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