We first hiked Catawba Falls around 2004, before there was easy trail access or parking. The feeling that we were breaking all the rules was both exhilarating and nerve wracking as we creek-walked and bushwhacked our way to this gorgeous site. On Saturday, we hiked it with our kids and with the recent parking, trail access, and restrooms we didn’t have to break any rules. Here are some of the highlights of what we saw:
These are the white flowers of the Catawba Rhododendron.
Running cedar is a common plant to find in the North Carolina mountains. My grandmother used to decorate the mantle with it at Christmas. She would not want to do that now; though it is not yet an endangered plant, it is threatened.
This bloom was so tempting for our three-year-old. She wanted to pick it to bring home.
Our seven-year-old son was very interested in all the different types of lichen, as well as the answer to whether Daddy Longlegs really bite.
We started to climb up the treacherous trail to the upper falls, but decided not to risk it. Plans to develop the upper trail are reportedly in place, and many brave folks were exploring the trail already.
Instead we opted to play at the beautiful Middle Falls!
More of the Middle Falls area.
The origami paper cranes were a perfect sight along the way and inspired us to learn more about Origami and the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
Just past the water bugs, below the ripples and surface of the water, we saw lots of tiny crayfish and periwinkles.
This flying squirrel was the greatest highlight of the trip. We don’t know why he was out mid-day, but we stood and stared at each other for a long time. We’ve been reading about flying squirrels and nocturnal animals at home ever since.