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Catawba Falls, Old Fort

4.6
#30 of 49 in Nature in North Carolina Mountains
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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66 reviews
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  • Catawba Water Falls is truly a gem in the rough. Although the trip to the falls was clear, it was a very tiring trip and well worth it.  more »
  • We hiked the Falls trail on a summer Monday with quite a few hikers of various ages and abilities. Gentle incline up to the top of the falls. About one and a quarter miles up to the top, so very doabl...  more »
  • This gorgeous, multi-tiered waterfall is the headwaters of the Catawba River. It's easy to find, good parking area and a well marked trail. The two bridges are great! There is a kiosk noting the vario...  more »

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