Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Looking Glass Falls, Moore Cove Falls

We wanted to find something a bit cooler than Greenville today, so we headed north toward Hwy 276.

Our first stop: Looking Glass Falls.

Formed by the collapse of the ground beneath Looking Glass Creek, the 60-foot falls is located on Hwy 276 in Pisgah National Forest, several miles north of the Visitor's Center. The road has been widened to accommodate cars, so when you arrive, pull into the parking area and walk to the observation deck. I took the photo below from the upper observation deck. This gives you an idea how close it to the road.


Looking Glass Falls

Enjoy the frothy water from the deck or the nearby bench, or walk down the steps to the lower observation area near the base of the falls. A small opening allows visitors to walk onto the bank or trudge through the chilly creek to swim in the shallow waters, or walk upstream for a really cool photo. We've been there more times than we can count, but the spray is so cool, so refreshing, it's always worth another visit. We stayed there for awhile, relishing the mist until the crowd thickened, and then we headed up the road.

Eager to explore, we stopped at the little trailhead we've seen dozens of times but had never bothered to investigate: Moore Cove.

We enjoyed the hike despite the fact it was short (0.7 miles each way.) My bad knee was bothering me, but I didn't have any trouble climbing up the steep steps near the beginning of the pathway. There was a bit of mud along the way, and as we got further along, the trail became darker and more dismal--in a good way.
We passed several individuals obviously drying out from a good soaking, so we assumed Moore Cove had a base similar to that of Looking Glass. Instead, we found a sleek falls that spilled over a narrow precipice to a small pool. One can walk around the falls, including behind it and to the top, but I cannot emphasis the folly of the latter. At least two individuals died at Moore Cove during our time in SC (please see my note on waterfall safety.) If you're not willing to climb on your roof when it's wet, it's best not to climb to the top of a waterfall.

It began to rain about a quarter of the way back to the car. Fortunately, we carry rain ponchos, and we pulled them out when the rain broke through the canopy of trees we were hiding under. We looked like a couple of orange trolls wandering through the woods, but it was worth protecting our camera, which contained the photo above.

Word of warning, Kelley slipped a couple of times in the mud that pooled up along the narrow path near the trailhead. As we were advising an older couple to turn back to their car, he slipped again, this time down the last step. So be careful if it rains while you're out there.

For more information on Moore Cove, go to Waterfall Rich's Moore Cove site, or
hikewnc.info/trailheads/pisgah/pisgah/guidedhikes/moorecovefalls.html

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