Address: Catawba River Road, Old Fort, NC 28762
Latitude/Longitude: 35.614019, -82.229968
Web site: click here
Phone: (828) 652-2144
Looking for an outdoor adventure in Old Fort? An easy to moderate hike 1.5 miles along the headwaters of the Catawba River southwest of town leads to the base of Catawba Falls, a series of dynamic cascading waterfalls more than 100 feet high.
Since the late 1800s, Catawba Falls has been considered a local attraction, although public access to the falls has not always been available. In the early 1900s, Colonel Daniel Adams, a WWI veteran, land conservationist, inventor of the first forest fire tower and local historical icon, bought the property around Catawba Falls and constructed a hydroelectric dam, bringing electricity to the town of Old Fort.
The land has changed hands a few times since then and in recent times, hikers have had to request permission from private landowners to access the trail to Catawba Falls. That is, until 2010, when the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina worked with the landowners and negotiated the transfer of 8o+ acres of private land into the Conservancy’s land trust, creating a public access point to the trail and the falls. In addition, this action preserved the headwaters of the Catawba River by placing the land around it completely within Pisgah National Forest and under the protection of the U.S. Forest Service through the Forest Service’s subsequent purchase of the land from the Foothills Conservancy.
The Catawba Falls Trail, now fully open to the public, is popular with adults and kids alike. The trail itself is flat to moderately inclined. It does require crossing the water a handful of times to reach your destination, so expect to get your feet wet. In addition, rocks and tree roots along the trail are often wet, so stay aware of potentially slippery surfaces while navigating along the path.
The trail leads through hardwood forest along the Catawba River, providing plenty of photogenic scenery in spring and fall, as well as ample shade in summer. In addition, you’ll see a cool piece of local history when you pass by the ruins of Colonel Adams’ hydroelectric dam on your way to one of the prettiest waterfalls in the area.
To reach Catawba Falls, take I-40 to exit 73 and turn onto Catawba River Road. From town, go south on Catawba Avenue and turn onto Catawba River Road just past the interstate. Take Catawba River Road to the end to reach the parking lot for the trail.
From the Author: Catawba Falls is a gorgeous natural treasure that provides a lot of enjoyment for hikers, waterfall enthusiasts and nature lovers. The falls has two sections, an upper falls and lower falls. The Catawba Falls Trail takes you to the lower falls. Currently, access to the upper falls is closed and attempting to climb to the top of the falls is strongly discouraged due to risk of serious injury or death.
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