Thompson River Adventure!
with Darrin, Spencer, Stephanie, Andy, Boone, and Kona
High Falls, Rich Falls, and Big Falls
Transylvania County, NC
Sunday, April 26th, 2015
For all you waterfall junkies out there, Big Falls on the Thompson River is a definite Must See! When we found out that Spencer and Stephanie had never been we decided to change that!
First up would be High Falls (page 336 of Kevin Adam's 2005 Edition of "North Carolina" Waterfalls). While there are no signs or blazed trails to this waterfall, if you can follow direction this one is an easy enough hike that just about anyone can handle.
High Falls on the Thompson River
The only tricky part is in order to get a decent view, you have to cross to the other side of the river. During most times, you might be able to rock hop, but on this day the water was a good bit higher than normal.
Spencer crossing the Thompson River
Next up would be Rich Falls (aka the waterfall formally known as Waterfall #2). But before we get to that, let me share a few of the many wildflowers we saw along the way.
Lady Slipper getting ready to bloom
Pink Lady Slipper
On page 346 of the 2005 edition of Kevin Adam's "North Carolina Waterfalls" book he has a listing for "Waterfall #2 on the Lower Section of Thompson River (#5)" Many of us have given Kevin a hard time about the name he gave this waterfall. This one is definitely deserving of a better name than "Waterfalls #2"!
Rumor has it that Kevin has agreed that "Waterfall #2" deserves a better name and in the next edition of his book he will be calling this one Rich Falls. Naming it after Waterfall Rich Stevenson of www.ncwaterfalls.com, who was the first person to document the existence of this very impressive waterfall.
Rich Falls on the Thompson River
Darrin on the Rocks at Rich Falls
Spencer and Stephanie downstream from Rich Falls
The final waterfall of the day would be the incredible Big Falls (aka Thompson Falls). Again, for anyone that can handle an 8 mile round trip hike, including a very steep and difficult off trail scramble, Big Falls is a must see!
The final scramble path down to the base of Big Falls is definitely tough, but probably more established than it was 10 years ago. There are even several ropes in place now to help with the descent to the base and the climb back out. The ropes are not 100% necessary, but they can be helpful.
Darrin and Spencer on the scramble path down to Big Falls
There are other ways to get to Big Falls, but believe it or not, this is the easiest! The route Darrin and I took this past September involved an upstream river walk from the Foothills Trail. This would not have been safe with the much higher water levels we had today!
Big Falls on the Thompson River
from this spot, it was impossible to do a long exposure without spray on the Lens
Big Falls on the Thompson River
For a sense of scale, can you spot Spencer and Stephanie.
Hint #1: Don't get distracted by the shirtless Andy
Hint #2: X=80% Y=65%
Looking downstream from Big Falls
For a sense of scale, can you spot Stephanie?
Hint: X=35% Y=15%
Stephanie and Spencer hanging out at Big Falls
Andy, Boone, and Kona at Big Falls
Kona at Big Falls
Boone at Big Falls
We probably spent a good 2 hours hanging out at Big Falls. For me the water was still a little too cold to get 100% in. However, Darrin and Spencer were both up for a bit of waterfall water sliding!
Darrin sliding down Big Falls
Spencer Sliding down Big Falls
The return hike back to our vehicles was much quicker and fairly uneventful. The total hike was just under 10 miles including all the sides.
Side trail to the left near the top = High Falls
Blob on the Bottom = Big Falls
Next Blob up from the Bottom = Rich Falls
This was an awesome day of waterfall wandering! And I don't think I will ever get tired of the Thompson River, so I will definitely be back!
The complete set of photos is posted here:
One final image I want to share is a 360-degree stitched composite that Spencer created!
Big Falls by Spencer Clary