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Catawba Falls, Old Fort

(60+ reviews on the web)
Waterfall Nature / Park
Catawba Falls is a series of waterfalls on the headwaters of the Catawba River, in McDowell County, near Old Fort, North Carolina.GeologyThe Catawba River flows over 2 major waterfalls in a short distance. The first drop, called Upper Catawba Falls, consists of an upper free-fall drop, while the second drop a short distance downstream, often called just Catawba Falls, is a higher series of free-falls and cascades.HistoryCatawba Falls is part of the Pisgah National Forest. For many years, while the falls were located on public land, visitor access to the falls was heavily restricted. The only access points to the falls were a trail that went through private property, and an access point off of Interstate 40. Use of either access point was illegal.In 2005 and 2007, the US Forest Service purchased 88acre of land at the end of Catawba River Road for a trailhead. In 2010, access to the falls was officially opened to the public. In 2012, a new parking area was built by the Forest Service. The Forest Service plans further improvements, including a foot bridge over a tricky crossing of the river along the trail and a new trail to the upper falls, bypassing a section considered steep and dangerous.
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  • We are not hikers by any stretch of the imagination. The weather was a warm and the hike (mostly uphill) encouraged us to keep going with smaller falls along the way. Once we finally got to the top - ...  more »
  • We hiked to the falls several years ago when the trail was not maintained, you had to go around a gate and use stepping stones to cross the river. Now there is a parking lot, restroom facilities, a ma...  more »
  • Nice wide path meanders alongside the stream that leads to the falls. We went in a pouring rain so yeah it can get muddy and slippery but it was enjoyable all the same. I'm not sure if the path with b...  more »