Sunday, March 13, 2016

High Shoals Falls and McGalliard Falls

Buster and I went to South Mountain Park in Connelly Springs, NC to visit High Shoals Falls. We made a brief stop at McGalliard Falls in Valdese, NC. We then headed home, stopping along the way at Circus Hall of Cream in Hickory, NC for dinner.

South Mountain Park
We drove all the way through the park to the main (and last) parking area on the left that leads to several trails. 
Overlook from the parking lot. So beautiful

We took the scenic (and easy) Hemlock Nature trail. There were lots of learning stations along the trail where you could read about plants, fish, animal tracks, etc. The Hemlock Nature Trail is .3 mi and leads directly into the High Shoals Fall Loop (2.7 mi total). This trail is marked strenuous, but for the most part is fairly easy until you get across the long narrow bridge over the creek. Once over the bridge it's nothing but stairs, some natural rocks and some wooden, but all steep. We got to the viewing deck at the top right as my hams/quads started burning like crazy. You can take more stairs up to the top of the waterfall and loop back around, but we didn't do that. We went back the way we came, which was much easier than going up!
Biggest cut tree we'd ever seen
High Shoals Falls
High Shoals Falls

One of the many cascades along the way to the main falls

McGalliard Falls
These falls are located at McGalliard Falls Park, but for some reason when you google McGalliard Falls it shows a map of the Valdese Rec Center. If I hadn't had my Kevin Adams book I wouldn't have found my way to these falls. I can't find an exact street number but they are located on Falls Rd in Valdese, NC. "Falls, 1100, 1162 Falls Rd, Valdese, NC 28690, United States" shows you the park in Google Maps.
I walked to the left then behind the picnic shelter to an overlook of the falls and mill. 
View from the overlook
 Then you have to go the opposite way along the trails, over the creek, and down behind the mill to get to the base of the falls. It was a nice pit stop and great place to have a picnic.
McGalliard Falls

Circus Hall of Cream
Weird name, but good food. This local restaurant is drive-thru or walk-up only. There is only outdoor seating, but it was a beautiful, breezy day and Buster can't go inside anyway. The bathrooms are around the back and Buster had to go in with me because I couldn't leave him in the hot car. 

Buster's first time in a public restroom.

I got their footlong combo with fries and a soft serve vanilla shake. (Buster had dry dog food I brought with us. He was disappointed.) Great food and I would go there again if I were in Hickory! Their hours are M-F 10-9p. Sat 10-4p. Closed Sundays.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Do Go Chasing Waterfalls

Buster and I love hiking to waterfalls. We are so lucky to live in a state with 1000+ waterfalls. 
Highly recommend this book for planning waterfall hikes. A new edition will be available Summer 2016.

Fall Creek Falls
The roads to this waterfall in Mayodan had me crossing in and out of NC and Virginia. There's not a parking lot or well-defined trail to this little gem. I parked on the side of the road and hoped nobody would tow my car. This link has a lot of great info about getting to the Falls. 
Fall Creek Falls. At the top of the falls on the bottom R
Lower Cascades (Hanging Rock Park)
This is my favorite waterfall we've been to so far. Hope you like stairs because there's about 40 flights of em! The waterfall flows into a shallow pool and then there's a much less impressive cascade. So you could wade in the pool out to the rocks like that couple on the right.

Lower Cascades

Hope you like stairs!

We also visited the other waterfalls in the Park: Upper Cascades, Window Falls. They're less impressive.
Hiking to the peak of Hanging Rock is worth it. It's a moderately difficult trail, uphill all the way there.
It started raining when we got to the top. We took shelter under the trees popping out of the rock.
Tory's Falls/Den
This is a short hike with a lot of history. Torys hid out here during the Revolutionary War. The waterfall was not impressive. It might be worth seeing in the winter after a lot of rain/snow. I've seen other photographs of the falls that are more impressive, but I don't know how they got to that vantage point. We were on top of a cliff at the end of the trail.
See the waterfalls? No? Because it was more of a trickle.
We enjoyed the cave though. I don't know how several men lived in that tiny cave, though. 
Tory's Den
To enjoy Tory's Falls you should go after a big rainfall. Other hikers have seen a much more impressive fall. The last three photos on this page are from Tory's Falls/Den.

Stone Mountain State Park
Stone Mountain Falls are usually crowded. There's also a lot of stairs, but benches along the way to rest.
I enjoyed Widows Creek Falls a lot more. Less crowded and prettier. No hike at all. Just park and walk.
Stone Mountain Falls on L, Widows Creek Falls top R, Yadkin River bottom R