Springtime transforms Western North Carolina into a wonderland for the outdoor enthusiast. It is the perfect time to pack a picnic lunch and head out in search for Asheville’s waterfalls. Western North Carolina has over two hundred of these magnificent natural water features—far too many for me to cover in this story. All require some hiking to be reached—with vary degrees of difficulty. If you are at home in the woods and searching for waterfalls is your “thing” you have come to the right place. Most of those two hundred falls are within a two hour drive of Asheville. The waterfalls of nearby Transylvania County alone will keep you busy for days. As an Applewood Manor guest, you are probably here only for a few days, and it is unlikely that you are equipped for long treks up steep mountain paths, so let me tell you about a waterfall adventure that does not require survival gear and campaign boats. In fact, there are three falls. You can pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while visiting just one, or two, or all three in this one trip. It will just depend on how much trail walking you want to do.
First on your agenda will be Hooker Falls. You can practically drive up to it! It is about a thirty-five mile drive from Applewood Manor. Just enter “Hooker Falls Access Area” into your GPS system and in a little less than an hour, you will be driving into its parking lot complete with restrooms and water fountains. From there it is a short ¼ mile walk on a relatively level gravel path to the falls. If you have brought along shorts or swimming attire, you can even take a dip in the pool at the bottom of the falls or sit on the rocks and soak your feet in the fresh mountain water. As falls go, Hooker is rather low—only twelve feet high but it has beauty and charm You can stop right there. Unpack your picnic lunch while enjoying the woody view of the mountain stream and the falls. However, if you are up to just a little more hiking there are more majestic falls ahead.
Next is the Triple Falls or what some call the Hunger Games Falls because it was used in the filming of the movie including the scene where Katniss finds a wounded Peeta camouflaged among the rocks. Return toward the parking area and cross the pedestrian bridge that goes under the highway. The trail runs along the Little River about a third of a mile to the base of the Triple Falls. Off to the right is an overlook picnic area. Off the left a short trail takes you to the middle section of the falls. Large boulders provide a great place to sit and wonder at the power of the fast moving water as it plunges down for 120 feet.
If your picnic lunch is still intact and you are not ready to bring your waterfall adventure to an end, there is one more water feature and picnic spot ahead—the High Falls. Return to the trail. It climbs about a quarter of mile to the junction with the Riverbend Trail. The Riverbend Trail takes you to the base of the falls, but if you continue the main trail for another quarter of a mile you will arrive at a picnic area and overlook of the dramatic falls as they slide down a 120 feet inclined plane of granite.
The three falls are in the Dupont State Forest. Enjoy the wonders and beauty of Western North Carolina, but always stay safe. You should obey any signs along the trails and falls. Never underestimate the tremendous power of fast moving water.