Hiking Catawba Falls

Hiking in winter is wonderful when a warm day presents itself.  There are views when all the leaves are off the trees that just cannot be seen when it is summer.  This past week had one of those days, so we set off for Catawba Falls to hike.  It was a new place for us, as we have not been here before.  On the way to the trailhead, we spotted this barn quilt.  The little fox faces all pointing to the center were interesting.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Reaching the trailhead, we were a bit surprised to find this area was relatively new to public access.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The trail was wide and easy going, so pretty with dappled sunlight filtering through the evergreens here.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Here’s a winter view of the Catawba river, here just the size of a stream, with the bridge over the water and the mountains in the background.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The rustic remains of an old pump station from the early 1900s is growing moss.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

A bit further ahead, we stopped to watch the water flow over the rocks, and enjoy the quiet sound.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The trail diverged from the stream, gaining elevation as we went.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Another winter view, in spring and summer the leaves on the trees will obscure the sight of the water below.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Almost to the falls, a tributary called Chestnut Branch runs over the trail, with water coming down the mountainside over some boulders creating a small waterfall.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

As I turned around to see the other side, this guy was just landing.  It raised its head up high, extending its neck to its fullest height and gave us the eye.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

It must have decided we were not a threat, so it hopped up to a branch and allowed its picture to be taken.  I looked in my bird book when we got home, and I believe he (she?) is an immature Little Blue Heron due to its size, its markings and the color of its legs.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

A little further up the trail, and the bottom section of the falls came into view.  We had to go on a side trail to see this view.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

So pretty, and another spot that would be obscured from the main trail in summer.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

On the hillside, the rhododendrons are evergreen, and in springtime will be covered in white or pink blooms.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

At the Lower Catawba Falls, the remains of a dam are still there.  The dam and associated pump station provided power for the town of Old Fort in the early 1900s.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Looking up the river from the dam site, there are more small waterfalls leading to the larger one.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Looking down, the water pools for a bit before moving on down the mountainside.  The contour of the mountains in the background can be seen this time of year.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The remains of the dam at the Lower Falls is almost completely covered in moss.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Beautiful, quiet, and serene, we didn’t see that many people on this trail on this day.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Turning around, we found another small side trail on the way back.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

As I usually do, I saw some interesting shapes in the mushrooms and the stumps.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Coming back to the remains of the pump station, I noticed the hillside covered in rhododendrons.  We really have to come back in May when they will be blooming.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The remains of a small stone wall is covered in moss.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The trail back was just as quiet and beautiful, even now as clouds covered the sun.

Catawba Falls at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

I hope we can do more hiking this year.  Do you enjoy hiking or doing outdoor activities in winter?

30 thoughts on “Hiking Catawba Falls

  1. Rita C.

    Love hiking! This was a beautiful trail, and you’re right, there’s so much to see, unobscured, in winter vs when the trees are leafed out. Love all the waterfall and peculiarities you notice. I do that too. The juvenile blue heron…so patient with you! We have a couple that reside along our river right here in the city. It was so strange when we first saw them, and now they’re city birds (just two), usually just fishing along the banks!

  2. Beautiful photos! Good for you taking advantage of the warmer day. I’ve only been out on my bike once this month on a glorious 69 degree sunny day. My daughter and I rode the local “Georgetown Lewes Rails to Trail” for 9 miles. The day before we had a brisk walk through the neighborhood. Today has possibilities as the sun is “back out again”. Staying off the non-paved trails with the bikes because we don’t want to cause damage until they dry up a bit. 🙂

  3. lynn bourgeois

    This was a great hike, even here from my armchair. This morning it is 0 degrees F here, and too cold for hiking (at least for me), but spring is coming, and even though it is cold outside, the sunshine is creating sparkles on the snow and ice. Thanks for taking me along with you on this journey

  4. karenfae

    thanks for taking us along on your hike. I love hiking but we do not do much of it around here in the fall and winter. My husband hasn’t really felt like hiking much in recent years unless we are traveling and seeing new areas. But I do love hiking.and love the area you show. We used to take winter hikes and fall hikes you can always see so much further.

  5. Sylvia Anderson

    Hi Carole. I thoroughly enjoyed your hike, and wasn’t even winded when it was over! We used to do a lot of hiking, back in the day, when DH and I were both very involved in scouting. He was a scoutmaster of a Boy Scout Troop, and I had a coed Explorer Post, which were the teenagers. Before that, he was a Cubmaster and I, a Den Mother when the boys were younger. Those days are now gone, but the memories and pictures are still with us.

  6. farmquilter

    The forests of the east are certainly different from the forests of the west!! I love how the views change depending on the season back there…out here, our forests are just about 100% evergreen trees, with pockets of aspen and other deciduous trees that make a beautiful contrast in the autumn, but the view doesn’t change. There is usually too much snow to actually hike in the mountains…snowshoe or cross-country skiing is the winter mode of transportation in the mountains. Thanks for sharing the beautiful waterfalls and creek. The heron is awesome!

  7. Donna Hindle

    What a beautiful area you have to visit! BTW, I just received a “thank you” for the baby quilt I made a comment on last week. That was the first one I got, even though it was the third they have gotten.

  8. charmers3

    Winter can be cold, hard and grey, but seeking out this trail has brought a lot of vision to all of us. Thank you for sharing…..how interesting this hike was for seeing beauty in winter.

  9. Oh my, what a lovely and inviting hike. I do hope you get to go back in May, as well as other times throughout the year. It would be seen to see the blooms in May, as well as the Fall colors. I also feel that the bird you saw was a Blue Heron. We have them here in So. Cal., but I’m more familiar with mature Herons vs juveniles. Yours is definitely a skinny guy.

  10. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. I’m in upstate South Carolina and people are always astonished when they see pictures of our beautiful states. The Catawba River is beautiful. Thanks again

  11. Helene m Cline

    As I look out my sunshine filled window onto the very snow covered backyard, I really enjoyed your photos once again of the scenery in your area of NC. Thank you so much for sharing! Now back to sewing…

  12. Bonnie Coleman

    Lovely photos of the mountains and streams….thanks for sharing them! I absolutely love to hike and have been up to Mt. LeConte lodge, near Gatlinburg, several times for overnight. There is something so peaceful, restful and reverent about the silence of the mountains. It’s like medicine for the soul! There are no hills around here in South Ga, so my hiking days are probably over. Still, it is nice to see those creek photos and remember how lovely that sound can be. Thanks!

  13. Joan Sheppard

    What an amazing trip. And to think that it was almost lost to commerce. Or logging? Mining? We love to hike and took the dog and the 4 and 6 year old an a little hike yesterday. A little snow on the ground, just enough to obscure the vine that caught my toe and took me down. Saw a couple of coyote and a 1/2 dozen deer. Neither have any fear but will still keep a 20 foot distance as we all have a staring contest. The boys love to climb the fallen trees and hop over the creek as it’s only inches deep this time of year. In the summer this area is sometimes used for paintball games as I found out when I first walked the dog here and came home looking very psychedelic with paint splotches all over from walking through the greenery.
    Your eye for details is amazing. Finding the small details. And thanks for generously sharing your quiet family time – I feel like I walked the hills with you.

  14. What a lovely place to go for a hike, are you the rhododendrons natural or do you come from a planting at some stage? They will look amazing when they are in flower.

  15. Sue H

    Thanks for the hike! I love hiking any season of the year. Gracie (our dog) does too! Sadly my husband does not. Great peek into the woods without all the foliage.

  16. A lovely day spent in the woods! That heron photo is quite a coup! They are usually so very shy, we haven’t been out much this winter, there’s been snow but then lots of wind with the warmer days, so not so much fun for walking.

  17. Nancy Roberts

    How lovely! I can almost hear the water. And the heron- how fortunate to get that photo. I love the birds in your area and enjoyed seeing the ones a couple of posts ago. Florida winter has been unusually mild this year, so getting out to hike means it’s pretty warm. But we love to hike out on state or county land with our dogs- who think it’s heaven.

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