First Trail Bridge at North Carolina’s Catawba Falls Complete

The first of two trail bridges on the Catawba Falls Trail on the Grandfather Ranger District is complete. In partnership with McDowell County, North Carolina State Parks, and a federal Recreational Trails Program grant, the Pisgah National Forest has rerouted the Catawba Falls trail and installed a trail bridge crossing the Catawba River.

The Forest Service will be rerouting the trail and installing a similar bridge across Chestnut Branch as well as surveying and designing a safer route to the upper falls.

“I am so excited to make progress on improving access to these amazing waterfalls. We’re at a point now where soon we will be able to get people safely to the upper falls,” according to District Ranger Nick Larson. “Catawba Falls is our single most popular waterfall. Take the trail to the lower falls and find out why. It’s a beautiful hike that takes you through the historical structures of the old hydroelectric dam and lands you right at the base of a stunning 100 foot waterfall.”

Catawba Falls has a long history of tourism, and has become an iconic National Forest destination. From the days when the railroad and dirt paths were the only way up to the mountains, the public has sought out Catawba Falls for its breathtaking beauty. The relatively easy 1.5 mile hike to the lower falls is a little easier now. Less than 5 minutes from Interstate 40, and less than 30 minutes from Asheville and the northern end of the Pisgah Ranger District, Catawba Falls is one of the easiest areas to access and provides a unique opportunity to connect a diverse public to their National Forests.

The Foothills Conservancy, a local non-profit, began acquiring these lands for public access and conservation with the full support of McDowell County and the Town of Old Fort. Ultimately the property, along with the historic trail and waterfalls, was granted to the U.S. Forest Service. In 2013, the road access and an accessible trailhead were constructed.


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