Whitewater Falls, a few miles outside of Cashiers, North Carolina, offers the biggest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The waterfall, at 411 feet tall, taller than Niagara Falls, is comparable to many beautiful waterfalls throughout the world.
A ¼ of a mile paved walkway leads you to the upper level observation spot. From there you get a good view of the falls, but for the best view, the lower level is the best. The lower level is at the bottom of a 150+ staircase that leads to a platform where the best viewing and picture taking is at. Even though just seeing the falls themselves are worth the trip, people who are looking for something else can take the trails that lead to the lower falls.
The start of the trail is on the left of the staircase. At first it doesn’t look bad, but the trek isn’t for the faint hearted. At first the trail has wooden steps leading down, but soon it’s only dirt and rocks. Good hiking shoes are needed. I had on my worn out Sinks, and I soon found myself on the ground hanging onto a tree to keep myself from sliding down an incline. Despite this, I kept on, finding another trail that claimed to lead to a bridge, but this trail was less traveled than the main one. A half mile down this trail and I turned around since no one else was with me, and there seemed to be no real chance of anyone coming by if I got into trouble.
At the bottom of the main trail is the Whitewater River, flowing down across large rocks and going down further into the forest where eventually it leads to the base of Corbin Creek Falls and South Carolina. There is a metal bridge where you can cross and go to the right, following the river, and see these things. However, to the left you can go the Lower Whitewater Falls, but be forewarned, the trail can be rough to inexperienced hikers.
While at the rocks close to the metal bridge I saw the only people on the trails. John Oats and Heather King, both from Atlanta, were at Whitewater Falls for the first time.
“It’s Beautiful, I love it,” said Heather. John responded in the like saying, “It’s my first time here, and it’s really impressive.”
Not wanting to traverse the wet rocks with my shoes I decided to leave the Lower Falls for my next trip. The half mile 600 foot drop that I had enjoyed coming down was much different on the way up. Halfway I was wishing for a bottle of water and by the time I got to the top I felt the same way I did after running a 5k, but the trip to the rocks was worth it.
While the trails may not be some people’s idea of a good time, the trip to the Whitewater Falls is a must see. There is a two dollar parking fee and it’s only open from dawn to dusk. If you go hiking wear good shoes with protection at your ankles, don’t deviate from the trails, and watch out for snakes.