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Waterfall on East Fork of Fisher Creek November 20, 2012

Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, photography.
Tags: , ,

One of the nicest waterfalls that practically no one sees despite a location near a trail.

In the summer, you can hear the tantalizing roar of this waterfall from the East Fork trail in the Plott Balsams near Sylva, NC—but you can just barely make out its flowing line of water through the trees. Once you scrabble up the last tough little rubbly pitch on the trail’s most demoralizing section (600′ in a third of a mile), you will see a rough, unmarked side path that drops to the stream. But it goes to the top of the waterfall, not the bottom, and what you see is water plunging over an edge. To get even the slightest view of the fall itself from that point, you need to hang onto a tree and lean out. It’s a bit dangerous.

In the winter, you can see more of the falls from the trail. But with the leaves down, it also becomes obvious that you can make a short, painless bushwhack to the bottom. I visited the falls by this route the other day.

I climbed up the trail, passing between what I call the “Rocks of Discouragement.” This is a spot where you’ve just done a steep climb, it almost levels off for a bit and you think life’s about to get easier, and then you look up and see it gets even steeper.

You see the water cascading down for hundreds of feet. This waterfall doesn’t ever really bottom out. Below the biggest drop, there are smaller drops going down and down the stream valley a long ways.

At a shoulder on the slope, you will see a place where you can contour around to the stream through open woods.

Here are a few photos from that trip. You can also see pictures of this part of the Plotts taken in April and June by clicking on the links. (Lots of flowers.)

Small falls just below the big falls.

Splashing water droplets over rock.

Light on water.

Water running everywhere.

Medium falls below the small falls, and it just keeps going.


1. Gary - November 28, 2012

Hey .. I know that stretch of trail. Pretty pictures.

Jenny - November 28, 2012

Yes, you were one of the victims that I’ve taken up that trail!

Steve Temple - March 10, 2014

Is the trail you reference the one to the Pinnacle at Pinnacle Park near Sylva? If not, can you provide a bit more direction?



Jenny - March 10, 2014

When you head up the main trail from the Pinnacle parking lot, you go right instead of straight—you go up the East Fork trail instead of the West Fork. (There’s a good shortcut, but it’s too hard to describe here.) You will see the waterfall to your right as you get up to around 3700′. It’s easier to see in the winter than the summer. With a short bushwhack over to the stream, you will be at the base of the waterfall.

2. Steve Temple - March 10, 2014

Very helpful! Thank you so much. I just found your blog late last week and have found it to be a great source of information and inspiration. I live just to the east of Raleigh so I can’t spend as much time in your area as I would like, but I’m planning to be staying the Sapphire area off of Trays Island Road for six days around the 2nd weekend in April. I hope to get a lot of hiking in and this just might be one of them.

Jenny - March 10, 2014

I hope you have a great time! Think about Panthertown too—one of my favorite places and close to the Sapphire area. You probably saw my post about the waterfalls of the Dismal Creek area (it’s about five or six posts earlier than this one if you go to the “earlier posts” arrow at the bottom of the home page), off of Rt. 281.

Steve Temple - March 10, 2014

Yes, for someone who has actually never been there, I know a lot about Panthertown. I’ve got Kornegay’s map and a lot of other information on the area – just haven’t gotten in there yet. I did a hike up the Bonas Defeat area of the Tuckaseegee gorge many years ago with a group from the NC Nature Conservancy. That was a great hike. I haven’t seen your post on the Dismal Creek area. I’ve still got a lot of earlier posts to look through. I actually saw a more recent post that mentioned the falls on the East Fork and clicked on a link to the earlier one, so I’ve got to work my way back from the more recent ones to the earlier ones. Believe me, it will not take me long to get to it. I’ve got a lot of information on Dismal Falls, but haven’t had a chance to get there. Look forward to seeing what you’ve got on that area!

Thanks for sharing all this great information.


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