English Falls, McDowell County (9-22-18) - dwhike
English Falls

English Falls (9-22-18)

I’m going to be up front about English Falls. I have mixed feelings regarding sharing this album. On the one hand this waterfall is possibly one of the most unique and spectacular cascades in the state. On the other hand its proximity to thousands of passing cars on the Parkway means I worry that, if word gets out it will quickly be overrun. That, and it’s a potentially dangerous place to visit despite the very short walk it takes to get there. After visiting I’m a firm believer that this SHOULD NOT be a waterfall for the casual tourist. The terrain here is extremely steep requiring rope assisted descents and scrambling on open ledges. You’re going to see the following pictures and want to go but, I implore you, honestly evaluate your abilities before doing so. With all that said, I’m therefore not going to include my traditional step-by-step directions for visiting English Falls here in the intro section for this album. If you really want to get there you can probably figure it out by browsing the album itself or by doing a quick Google search for other trip reports. Above all, if you do decide to go, PLEASE respect the land. The incredible beauty found in this location is in large part due to its pristine nature. It’s a tempting place to scramble around but the plant life here (especially on the slopes surrounding the falls) is highly sensitive to disturbance. English Falls is a place deserving of reverence, which I hope you’ll see through my visit.

English Falls is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway between Linville Falls and Little Switzerland in a high cove above the valley of the North Fork Catawba River. It’s not a particularly high waterfall but, oh my, has it been crafted to perfection by mother nature. Standing beneath it and looking up an immense finger of rock thrusts out from the surrounding cliffs, forcing a tiny tributary above to spray out over, under, behind, and even through this massive in multiple narrow veils of water. On top of that the scene surrounding the falls is almost tropical in nature as the greens of the forest press in closely on all sides while exposed rock sports a healthy covering of damp moss. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my waterfall travels. Every time I think I've seen nature’s finest masterpiece I inevitably arrive somewhere that reminds me how foolish a thought that is. Mother Nature’s palate of water and forest and rock has infinite variety and in few places has this truth been as self-evident as at English Falls. Here, once again, the natural world left me in awe.

With that said, I’ll let you in on the journey and get a taste of what this incredible place has to offer. Again, I implore you, to treat English Falls with the respect it deserves if you go. I’d hate for this pristine and relatively unknown wonder be ruined by selfish and inconsiderate behavior. If you have the ability, and more importantly the respect, by all means go…in the meantime come along with me to the incomparable English Falls and, as always…ENJOY!!



Route Type:  Out-and-back        Difficulty:  HARD

Hike Length:  0.5 miles                Hike Duration:  1:00

Trailhead Temp:  75'F                  Trail Traffic:  1-5 people

Min. Elevation:  3,400'                  Max. Elevation:  3,680'

Total Vertical Gain:  300'             Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  1,200'  (all on return)


Trails Used (blaze color):  English Falls Path (unblazed)