Saturday, March 26, 2011

Trip to Big Falls, NC

Big Falls on Thompson River.  Near the NC/SC border off Highway 281. Turn on Brewer St. and immediately park on the bank on the right side.  Head back towards the highway and hike uphill to an old gated logging road to your left. It is about a 6-7 mile round trip hike.

We started this hike around 8 on a freezing morning.  Only problem is I hadn't read the directions well so instead we hiked down Brewer Rd. to the wrong logging road.  The trail felt wrong the whole time, but before we knew it we had hiked so long we had to press on.  Needless to say we eventually ended up on the foothills trail completely worn out and lost.  Hours of backtracking and bushwacking up and down mountains as trails ran out yielded arms and legs full of cuts and a general feeling of pissed off.

After hours of walking with no idea where we possibly were, we were thrilled to see our first sign of life. People and more people starting to appear and then even more exciting, a trail sign.  Finally, we  had made our way to the Foothills Trail. Luckily, I remembered reading that the Foothills Trail crossed the Thompson River at 0.5 miles downstream from Big Falls.  So when we came to the river we decided to bushwack our way up the river to the falls. We had to rock hop, wade, and cross up and down the bank when we ran out of reachable rocks in the river.  It was a tiring event but I had been through worse when hiking.  Well 6 long hours later from 8am, completely soaked from a river up to our waist, we finally reached the falls.

The falls were awesome and almost worth the trouble to see them.  The water level was super high and we had the whole place to ourselves.  It is really cool how you can walk up the rocks beside the falls and reach out and touch the water.  You cant imagine how powerful Big Falls really is until you are standing beside of it and having to yell to be heard over the rushing waters.

After enjoying the scene and a much needed lunch we packed up and headed back.  On the way back we found the right trail and wow was it easier.  There are many falls along the trail on the Thompson river including High Falls, but we had wasted so much time finding the place it was starting to get dark.  I will definitely have to get back there and see the other sights now that I know the way.  Well, ten and a half hours later I made it back to the car coming from the opposite direction (the correct trail).

I really recommend checking Big Falls out.  Just be aware the last 1/4 of a mile to get down to the falls is almost climbing straight down if you take the proper trail. We didn't go down that way but I can tell you going up is not fun either.  But at least as of March 26th the path was marked with flagging tape. 

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