Paradise Falls, Adventure & Beauty
When you think of rural Western North Carolina, images of rolling mountains covered by thick forests sprinkled with small towns echoing years of regional Appalachian life come to mind. You can't help but think of lazy summer days, Bluegrass Music Concerts in the town square, and celebrations doused in mountain moonshine. However, hidden away in the back country outside of Tuckasegee, one of those small Blue Ridge Mountain towns, stands Paradise Falls.
Just a short distance downstream from the dam at Wolf Creek Lake, the falls push back against the current of all our precognitive images of Western North Carolina. Instead of scenes of Appalachian terrain, the chute is more of a tropical escape reminisce of an exotic South Pacific locale. From your first few strides along her quarter mile trail from the Route 281 parking area West of the Lake, you can hear the roar of Paradise crashing down upon her smoothly sculpted rock pools below.
Note hikers beware; when you reach the first crossing of Wolf Creek, follow the path straight across the stepping stones. There is a trail which leads left up creek to another small waterfall but it does not take you to Paradise Falls. Second, after you cross the creek the trail will follow along for several hundred feet before quickly descending down a long steep embankment which requires some athletic ability to traverse. Luckily, God has placed some strategic roots along you path to help you steady your descent down the incline. There are occasionally ropes tied off to trees, left behind by some kind souls, to help you along your adventure but there is no guarantee that they will still be there during your visit.
Once you reach the bottom of the falls you will find a large cool pool offering a welcome retreat for swimmers and dare devils alike. While the less adventurous can cool off from the humid summer heat in the calm waters, those seeking more heart pounding thrills can carefully jump from the rock faces into the deep waters. However, some adventurous souls have met their fate at the falls when they misstepped along the ledges leaving them broken, paralyzed, or never returning home to their loved ones at all. I would highly suggest not taking any chances by leaping from the rock faces but instead enjoying the beauty and calm cool waters of the falls.
Another minor concern before you go, is to check with Duke Energy to make sure there isn't a planned release of water upstream from the Wolf Creek Lake Dam on the day you plan to visit. You could find yourself being hit with debris, swept over the falls, or slammed into the rocks without warning, as it is difficult to hear the dam's warning sirens from the valley.
If these few deterrence haven't left you reconsidering your visit I know you will have an amazing experience like I did. Personally, I went to the falls to capture their beauty in photos. If you are a photographer as well, there are a lot of amazing perches there to capture your own images. However, if you would like to view mine for possible purchase (shameless plug) you can visit www.rogerwdownesphotography.com.
I wish you the best as you go on your own adventure to Paradise Falls. Enjoy!