Have I gone on record yet saying that I think generally, waterfalls are overrated? I don’t hate them. A large percentage of the time I say I think something’s overrated, people conflate overrated with hate. Overrated isn’t hate. Overrated is overrated. Taco Tuesdays are overrated. So are White Claws. I enjoy both of those things. They just aren’t the life-changing foods and drinks the masses would have you think.
I think waterfalls are very cool and very pretty to look at, but I think I’ve just been duped far too many times by a hike whose entire genesis is that there’s a waterfall at the end and a large chunk of the time, that waterfall is just ok. That being said, western North Carolina has a higher-than-average ratio of waterfalls that have exceeded my expectations: Skinny Dip Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Catawba Falls have all been repeat hikes for me, and while I’ve only done Schoolhouse Falls once, I’d love to do it again.
The Triple Falls/High Falls hike in the Dupont State Forest is ostensibly the crown jewel of western North Carolina’s waterfall offerings. Because of this, it’s also the most crowded. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that 1.26 million people visited Transylvania County forests in 2021, a record number—in 2018, the forest had 800,501 annual visitors.
Last summer, I woke up early two separate times to try and do the Triple Falls/High Falls Loop. Both times I ended up not even attempting to find parking—I just turned around and drove home.
Last weekend was the first spring-weather weekend down here in Asheville, so a friend and I headed down to the Triple/High Falls hike early, hoping that we’d beat the crowds. I was shocked…shocked I tell you…to find the parking lot nearly empty.
I did the Triple Falls/High Falls hike once before on an overcast Thursday at dusk. The waterfalls were impressive—they’re huge—but that time, I chucked it into the overrated category.
You know what? It’s overrated no more. Much like a trip to the beach, a river float, or work productivity, the weather makes all the difference. It was still somewhat overcast and a tad chilly when we got to Triple Falls, but warm with freshly breaking sun when we got to High Falls, and I’m telling you, it was glorious. There were only a handful of other people exploring the base of the High Falls last Saturday morning and the way the sun was hitting the water made them almost look frozen.
Anyway, this is one of those “words don’t do it justice” moments, so I’m just going to leave this gallery here for you to peruse.
We headed back towards the parking around 11:00 AM, and foot traffic had increased significantly since we’d landed around 9:30. However, it wasn’t overwhelming and certainly, wouldn’t have ruined a trip to High Falls (although it would have been a less special experience to share the base of the falls with forty people, as opposed to the maybe 10 we did). I had such a nice morning hike and was so taken with the site of the falls that I didn’t even get annoyed at the hikers skirting around the “closed” sign at the Triple Falls viewing platform to go get that view anyway!
My friend, his dog, and I were sitting listening to a band I thought I’d hate based on their coordinating wide-brimmed fashion hates, but ended up being thoroughly charmed by (I’m their 88th follower on Spotify!) when this woman approached us, and didn’t ask my friend if she could pet his dog, but rather told us, “I’m going to violate your dog now.” Odd choice of words, which she must’ve picked up on, because she followed this with, “I work at an animal shelter, so I could say that.” She then proceeded to tell the struggling dog, “you’re going to bite me, and that’s ok!” twice, while again assuring us that “I could do this because I work with animals.”
I was just thinking that chalking up her inappropriate behavior with “It’s fine I work with animals” was a close cousin of “but, I have a black friend!” when she asked my buddy what hair products his dog uses (none, but the dog does have a very cute mohawk), and she shared that she uses “black girl hair products on my dog because they have the same kind of hair.” This was an actual thing she said aloud. Listen, I know that’s when we should’ve interjected and told her that was inappropriate, but this was also the kind of situation where I had to wait until she left and say to Eric, “did she just say what I think she did?”
People are wild. Truly. They just say whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like, completely ignorant of the fact that the things they say could very much end up being documented for posterity by a blogger with twelve followers.