One of the most serene settings for me to meditate or find inspiration is a waterfall. The tranquility provided is unprecedented. As I began to research waterfalls in is area I realized quickly just how fortunate we are to have so many to visit.
During my trips to Cherokee and Chimney Rock, North Carolina I was able to visit several. Here are 3 fabulous choices to check out when you are in these areas!
On the Qualia Indian Reservation off Big Cove Road which is just outside the Smoky Mountain National Park in Cherokee sits Mingo Falls. It is also known as "Big Bear" Falls to the native Cherokee community. The falls are tucked away up a 1/4 mile trail that consists of 161 stairs. It boasts as one of the largest falls in the southern Applachian mountains at 120 feet tall, cascading down 200 feet of rock formations.
Locals recommend visiting the falls during the early morning when there is not a crowd. An added bonus seeing it at this time of day is the billowing fog that settles around it, making the view even more mystic.
Directions: Travel US 441 to downtown Cherokee. Turn on Acquoni Road. Once you come to Saunooke Village shopping center, turn right onto Big Cove Road. After traveling about 5 miles from downtown you will see signs for the Mingo Falls Campground. The waterfall is adjacent to the campground. Keep in mind there is no signage to mark the parking lot and entrance.
Just off US 19, 11 miles east of Cherokee on the road to Maggie Valley is Soco Falls. It is unique to the area because of it being a double water fall. The area around the falls is known as Soco Gap which was used by the Cherokees in the 1700s as the main entrance to their land from the north and the east. It served as an ambush outpost for the Native American tribe as well.
Although the falls are right off the side of the road, the turnoff is extremely small and only has a very small sign. Once parked, it is only an easy 5 minute walk to the viewing platform.
There is a small steep trail to the left of the platform trail that leads to the creek beds and lower falls. Guide ropes are there to assist with steep and/or slippery spots. It is worth the climb. The small creeks and lush green foliage add to the scenery on your way down to the falls.
At the bottom of the trail, you will be able to get up close and personal to truly experiencing the power and beauty of the double falls.
On Highway 19 driving from Maggie Valley, the falls are just 1.5 miles past the Blue Ridge Parkway Crossing at Milepost 455.7 of Soco Gap. Before you come to the falls, there is a small blue sign that says "Soco Falls 1/2 mile ahead". It is actually not quite that far. It's more like 1/3 of a mile. Look for the small roadside parking area on the left. It is very easy to drive past the turn off.
Hickory Nut Falls
Located in Chimney Rock State Park in the Lake Lure area is Hickory Nut Falls. Standing 104 feet tall, it has the bragging rights as one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. It is truly an amazing fall that is surrounded by beautiful granite rock formations and hardwood forests. The movie producers of the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans liked it so much they used it in the famous final fight scene.
To get to the falls, you take a 3/4 mile trail that is an easy hike which starts in the main parking area of the park. Admission is required but allows you access to the famous Chimney Rock, an abundant amount of beautiful trails, and all the gorgeous scenery and breathtaking views you can handle in a day.
The falls can be admired from far away without even entering the park gates. You can enjoy a glimpse of the falls as well as the rest of the park while strolling down the sidewalks in the village of Chimney Rock. Such an impressive backdrop for your shopping and dining experiences while visiting the village.
Directions: The falls are located in Chimney Rock State Park which is located off Highway 74A past Lake Lure.
431 Main Street, Chimney Rock, NC 28720.
Have you been to Chimney Rock Park? Let me know about your trip below.
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