Frozen Waterfalls in North Carolina

The recent record setting cold spell in North Carolina has had some profound effects, but none more interesting to me than frozen waterfalls.

I have spent the last couple weeks of this sub freezing weather exploring frozen lakes and rivers, using the ice as a bridge to access areas that may have been difficult to get to before. I have done this for many years during deep freezes, and I have never seen ice as thick as recently.

frozen, waterfall, north carolina, falls creek falls, mayo river state park

Reports started coming out of all of the NC waterfalls freezing over, and so I started in northern NC at Falls Creek Falls.  The next day (made plans with my photography buddy Chris Sheridan, and we plotted out multiple waterfalls to visit in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had two new waterfalls in my sights, and one that I very familiar with.


The first waterfall of the day (1/8/18) that I visited was Catawba Falls near Black Mountain, NC.  A 30 minute semi-level walk brought me to the bottom of falls.  This was my first time to the waterfall and it was more than impressive! The entire falls was frozen and the frozen pool at the bottom became a place for visitors to slide around on and take pictures. Click to watch the video!



The next waterfall was supposed to be the famous Crabtree Falls near Little Switzerland.  However, I for some reason decided to trust Google and ended up at a small pulloff along a curvy road along Big Crabtree Creek.  It didn’t seem correct, but a quick scouting revealed that there indeed was a waterfall, but not Crabtree Falls.  Determined to enjoy the sight, Chris and I decided to blaze our own trail while following whatever pieces of a trail we could find. This was a steep and strenuous rocky scramble, with each step being carefully chosen. I have done this many times, and for me it is similar to chess, and is dealt with one move at a time. Chris and I continued this method, and we felt safe enough to continue to the bottom of the falls.  Tattered, sweaty, and tired, we walked out onto the frozen waterfall to receive our prize of frozen goodness! I am not sure what the name of this waterfall is, but I do not recommend visiting unless you have advanced hiking/climbing skills. Go to the accessible Crabtree Falls by locating the Crabtree Meadows Campground!


The final falls that I visited in the Blue Ridge Mountains was Toms Creek Falls near Marion NC. This waterfall has been a favorite of mine in the past and it definitely showed off in the ice!  Even though the waterfalls were all technically low flow due to the lack of rain, the ice spilled out farther then the water would have and really filled out the scene. Chris and I were tired and starting to feel the cold, and after waiting for the sun to set and light-painting the waterfall, we decided that it was time to get back to warmth.


A trip well worth it and I am still sore from the miles of hiking!

See Chris Sheridan’s photography here!

Video of the waterfalls

4 thoughts on “Frozen Waterfalls in North Carolina

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