• Roger W. Downes

Catawba Falls - A Journey of Pure Fantasy and Beauty

I had heard that Catawba Falls was beautiful but never did I expect what I found.

During one of my sessions of shooting food for Ingles Markets, I started chatting with food stylist Michael McMurtrey about popular waterfalls to visit within a short drive of Asheville. That is when both he and my photography assistant Ruby suggested Catawba Falls by saying, "Catawba Falls is amazing, that is one you have to go see, especially since you love to take nature photographs."

I jokingly thought to myself, "Self, we need to go find these falls for ourselves."

As we continued to shoot several more recipes both Michael and Ruby talked about their visits to the falls as an almost religious experience. I shook my head thinking, "Seriously, how could Catawba be any better than the countless other waterfalls I had already visited in the Pisgah National Forest." But their enthusiasm started to truly peek my interest, so I jokingly thought to myself, "Self, we need to go find these falls for ourselves."

That night I decided to research the falls on Instagram which brought up some amazing images that drew me in even further. It looked like a scene out of a James Cameron fantasy sci-fi movie, such as Avatar. Now I had to go see this place for myself so I packed up my gear, set my alarm for 4am, and readied for the hike the following morning.

...thanks to the Foothills Conservancy ...access was granted to the public...

Until recently, access to Catawba Falls was restricted as the trail leading to the waterfall laid on private land, with an owner less than happy to offer access. But thanks to the Foothills Conservancy who purchased the 88 acres of trails to the falls in 2005 and 2007 access was granted to the public and the land is now overseen by the US Forest Service who plan to improve the trail in coming years.

But back to the adventure...

I awoke ahead of my alarm going off, excited to head out to the these amazing falls that everyone was raving about. As I drove East along Interstate 40 to the Old Fork exit I hoped no one else would be at the falls this early, allowing me time to capture it before visitors started to arrive at this very popular destination.

Hear How The Foothills Conservancy Saved The Falls

After arriving at the parking area, I put on my head lamp, grabbed my trail flashlight, camera bag, walking stick and I was off into the dimly lit forest. The hilly two mile hike in certainly tested me as I hadn't conditioned myself to haul in so much equipment for such a distance (sitting on a couch watching Netflix and eating chips to pass the time during a pandemic kills your athletic ability). But after huffing and puffing up the last steps of the trail I arrived at my destination.

As I had hoped I was the only one there giving me ample time to capture the shots I had been dreaming about all night. I quickly set up my camera and tripod, waded into the upper falls pool and was able to bring the absolute beauty of Catawba Falls to you.

I would highly suggest visiting the falls for yourself instead of just looking at photos and videos in this blog. Go fall in love with God's artistry, He has given us such a beautiful planet to be the stewarts of, so please be kind and take out what you take in. Remember we didn't inherit the world from our parents we are borrowing it from our children.

Purchase your own Image of "Catawba"

Recent Posts

See All


Thank you for taking the time to read about the adventures I take, the people I meet and the places I see.  

Please get out into the natural world and enjoy all the beauty and spender that is God's artistry...

Listen To The Podcast