This past Easter, I had big plans to take advantage of one of the first nice days of the year by doing either a Sam’s Knob or Shining Rock hike but pivoted at the last minute to do the much shorter, much closer Catawba Falls Hike.
I arrived at the trailhead before ten, and it was less than half-filled, probably on account of the recent resurrection, so I got to enjoy a walk up to the falls and back in relative peace. It was a relaxing morning, and I ended up happy with my choice, especially because my proximity to Black Mountain meant a bologna-melt lunch at Butcher Bar.
I was even happier with my choice when I was checking the news on WLOS and found that per the headline, Catawba Falls trail to close for an extended amount of time. According to the article, the trai will close today, May 2, 2022, and remain closed until spring 2023. At first, I thought maybe this was a reset for one of the area’s more popular hikes, a chance to stop erosion, but it’s actually due to Catawba Falls being the site in McDowell County with the most emergency rescue calls.
The U.S. Forest Service is planning on adding “boardwalks, platforms, and overlooks” between the lower and upper falls, which sort of bums me out. Catawba isn’t necessarily pristine nature, and for example, platforms and staircases don’t hurt the ambiance at triple falls. Still, I think the 60-foot viewing tower they have planned will take something away from the magic of Catawba.
Per a story in the Citizen Times, one to two serious rescues happen per month at Catawba Falls due to visitors climbing and wading where they shouldn’t. As usual, people are the reason we can’t have nice things.