If you’re looking for gorgeous views of waterfalls on a moderately-challenging hike, look no further than the Catawba Falls Trail. A quick overview:
Distance: 2.7-mile round trip
Dog Friendly: Absolutely!
Destination: Pisgah National Forest
Distance from Black Mountain: 12 Miles
Driving Directions from High Rock Rentals: https://goo.gl/maps/PbUXHUo7TK2RiiZaA
To reach the trailhead of this scenic hike, you’ll turn off I-40 at exit 73, just east of Black Mountain. As you wind through the trail, you’ll be surrounded by leafy ferns and pines on all sides. You will view the Catawba River from above on a walking bridge that spans the banks.
Once on the other side of the bridge, get ready to make your steady climb uphill to the waterfall (and the view!). You’ll see several small waterfalls along the way as well as a small cave just off the trail. When you get to the ruins of a 1920s dam, you’ll note moss-covered rocks and lichen that can be quite slippery. Exercise caution as you view the natural beauty that has sprung from the man-made dam’s remains.
Now, you’re a mile in. Here’s where the trail takes on a rockier path with boulders to navigate. As the waterfall nears, the rushing waters get louder and the elevation continues to steepen slightly. You’ll go through a series of switchbacks before the waterfall comes into full view. At the final curve in the trail, you emerge from the wooded glen at the base of Catawba Falls.
The 100-foot high waterfall cascades over the mossy rocks of the cliff to large boulders below. The boulders form a natural pool at the bottom of the falls. In warm weather, this pool is a great place to cool off before continuing your hike back down the mountain. If you brought a furry friend along for the hike, they’ll enjoy splashing in the shallow water as well. In colder months, you can appreciate the beauty of the rushing water from a distance.
In years past, you could continue your journey to the top of Catawba Falls via a tiny foot path on the right side of the falls. However, due to the steep gradient and slippery nature of the trial, that path has since been closed. The safest way to enjoy the falls is from the “beach” area at the base.
When you’re done, take the trail back to your car and go enjoy a bite in downtown Black Mountain or make your way back to your cozy High Rock Rentals cabin for relaxing night in.