One of the many perks of living in Western North Carolina is being surrounded by some of the most stunning natural environments on the planet. We have access to almost unlimited sites showcasing unique blends of geography, geology and botany — all within distances that allow us to be captivated by the views and experiences rather than keeping us captive in our cars.
North Carolina Waterfalls by Waynesville travel and nature writer/photographer Kevin Adams features enough such attractions to keep weekend adventurers occupied for years to come. And though the updated third edition covers the entire state, most of the book’s 469 pages highlight destinations within a two-hour drive of Asheville, making it the definitive guide to Western North Carolina waterfalls. Notable falls are grouped by location into 42 “hubs,” but only two of them lie east of Interstate 77.
Adams’ seven other titles include Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia, Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina’s Best Wildflower Hikes and Backroads of North Carolina.
The author first tackled the subject back in 1994. His 2005 update aimed to counter misinformation spread via the internet. The current edition shines a spotlight on Adams’ photography while providing both new and updated information.
Of the 1,000 waterfalls listed in the 2016 edition, 400 are new inclusions. The book gives detailed descriptions and color photographs of 300 falls. Adams visited all of them within the last two years, and he recounts those excursions as well as describing and evaluating each cascade.
Waterfall aficionados looking to indulge their passion will appreciate the book’s structure. In the introduction, a simple map relates the hubs to major transportation corridors. Each hub section features in-depth listings of that area’s most iconic falls and a more detailed map showing their proximity to well-known roads and towns.
Individual listings give the waterfall’s name, beauty rating, accessibility, landowner and the topographic map that depicts it, plus directions to the trailhead, a description of the hike (including length and difficulty) and GPS coordinates. Less notable falls aren’t covered in as much detail, but Adams still offers valuable information about the best views and whether it’s even worth fighting the vegetation and terrain to get there.
The author also provides technical details not necessarily included in standard guidebooks, such as the waterfall’s originating river and watershed, elevation, size and type. In addition, Adams indicates how photogenic each site is and discusses canopy conditions that might affect a photo shoot.
Thanks to the author’s exceptional photography, this informative, functional guide teases readers with the allure of WNC’s many waterfalls.
Released June 2, North Carolina Waterfalls is available on Adams’ website (kadamsphoto.com). Both the site and his Facebook page also contain additional information about the state’s waterfalls.