We ventured into Transylvania County, North Carolina today. We were not in search of vampires. Transylvania County is known for its numerous waterfalls. Today we visited two of them: Whitewater and Toxaway Falls.
The road from Hendersonville, North Carolina (current home base) to and through Transylvania County is very curvy. Sometimes it seemed like we were turning so sharp that we could see our own tail lights. In addition, we climbed in elevation to the point that we were actually driving through low-lying clouds at almost 3000 feet above sea level.
The trip to the furthest falls, Whitewater, was only supposed to take an hour. However, most of the way the speed limit was an average of 40 to 45 MPH due to the curves, twists and turns.
The first place we came to while trying to find waterfalls was Lake Toxaway. We figured that we must be close to the falls if we were at the lake of the same name. We pulled over to survey the lake. It was a beautiful lake. The air was crisp, the water was calm and the birds were just chirping loud enough to hear them in the background but not loud enough to upset the serenity of things. I stood there for more than a moment just taking it all in.
We got back in Ebony and headed on down the road to Toxaway Falls, or so we thought. We took a wrong turn down a mountain road and ended up going in the opposite direction. You can’t use the GPS for most of these falls as they have no address and most places will not give you longitude and latitude coordinates.
We realized that in our wrong turn it was supposed to take us by another waterfall that was not on our agenda. We searched for about 30 minutes and never could find it. We did, unexpectedly, happen across a neat looking old-time general store. After snapping a picture, we were on our way; the correct way.
We finally came to the top of a bridge. I pulled over, jumped out and ran over to the bridge’s edge. We read that the road would turn into a masonry bridge and cross over Toxaway Falls. When I looked over the edge, I saw the top of a 150 foot waterfall.
From where we were, you could not see the falls in all of their glory, just the top part where the water began to fall over the edge. However, there was a breathtaking view of the valley, trees and houses dotting the hillside. We drove a little farther and found a road that took us down for a better view. It led to private drives of houses that overlooked the falls.
We could see the falls between the trees. But, the view was not clear enough to get good pictures of the falls or the caves on the rock’s face or base. After marveling for a while, we loaded up and headed onto our next destination.
Along the way we passed a rock carving that was so unique that we had to find a place to turn around and go back. It was a carving of a Native American about to shoot a bear. The carving was about 5 feet tall and 7 feet wide. It was an exploring surprise that I had to include.
About 25 minutes later we arrived at the Nantahala National Park. This is where you can access the view of the Upper Whitewater Falls. The Whitewater Falls are reported to be the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. The Upper Falls, in North Carolina, fall about 411 feet and the lower falls, in South Carolina (a few miles down river) fall an additional 400 feet for a total of over 800 feet for both the upper and lower falls.
We parked, paid our $2 to access the area (this seems like it is almost on the honor system) and began our walk to the first observation platform. The view was marvelous. We could see from the top of the falls almost to the bottom. Again, we could see the clouds kissing the trees a few hundred feet above our heads and water cascading down rock faces below.
There were stairs to the right that was supposed to lead to another platform. We traversed the over 150 steps and arrived at the lower platform. To the right, at the bottom of the stairs was a path that led to the Foothill Trail. This is a trail that leads you along the river, the hills, other cities and into South Carolina to see the Lower Whitewater Falls. We did not traverse it as it was getting late and we were losing daylight.
The lower platform is where we were able to attain our best views. We could literally see from the top of the falls to the very bottom and it was spectacular.
All of the effort to get here was well worth it! But this won’t be our last waterfall adventure. Stay tuned. Safe Travels.