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.
Reaching the trailhead, we were a bit surprised to find this area was relatively new to public access.
The trail was wide and easy going, so pretty with dappled sunlight filtering through the evergreens here.
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.
The rustic remains of an old pump station from the early 1900s is growing moss.
A bit further ahead, we stopped to watch the water flow over the rocks, and enjoy the quiet sound.
The trail diverged from the stream, gaining elevation as we went.
Another winter view, in spring and summer the leaves on the trees will obscure the sight of the water below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So pretty, and another spot that would be obscured from the main trail in summer.
On the hillside, the rhododendrons are evergreen, and in springtime will be covered in white or pink blooms.
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.
Looking up the river from the dam site, there are more small waterfalls leading to the larger one.
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.
The remains of the dam at the Lower Falls is almost completely covered in moss.
Beautiful, quiet, and serene, we didn’t see that many people on this trail on this day.
Turning around, we found another small side trail on the way back.
As I usually do, I saw some interesting shapes in the mushrooms and the stumps.
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.
The remains of a small stone wall is covered in moss.
The trail back was just as quiet and beautiful, even now as clouds covered the sun.
I hope we can do more hiking this year. Do you enjoy hiking or doing outdoor activities in winter?