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Catawba Falls Trail

Catawba Falls Trail

Ice is Nice

Difficulty Level: Moderately Advanced (See map below)

TOTAL DISTANCE: 2.5 Miles Round Trip

This level is basically the same as the Moderate level but there is more of it.  The trails are longer and steeper.  Plan on your nose touching the ground as you climb.  If you don’t think you can make this type of hike, you probably can’t.  Practice a little more.  Find a hiking buddy. 

One of the great gifts in life is to have a hiking buddy that you can call on the spur of the moment when there is snow on the ground, the streams are frozen over, and the temperature is 16 degrees and say “Let’s go hiking” and the reply is “I’ll need a couple of minutes to get my gear”.  If you’re fortunate enough to have a friend like that, then by all means hike to Catawba Falls in the winter.  I’ve re-rated it and have made a couple of suggestions.  The main suggestion is don’t go alone.  Trail directions are the same (see Catawba Falls Trail ) but equipment and difficulty level is a little different.


Shoes:  A medium to heavy hiking boot that supports the ankle.  A waterproof boot is much preferable.  In the winter when the streams are frozen and full they can be deep and potentially dangerous.

Time:  Expect to spend at least 2 hours on the trail if you plan to go to the falls and back. 

Distance:  Total distance round trip is 2.5 miles.  Elevation gain is about 100’ to the falls. 

Safety:  The trail is dirt path all the way.  If it is covered with snow, the rocks and roots are hidden underneath and are very slippery.  The stream crossings can be very difficult.  You’re not going to die if you fall in but you might wish you could.  I can’t stress enough how much you need to waterproof yourself.  When you get to the falls the rocks are frozen and covered with snow.  That might give you a false sense of security for footholds.  Think it out and be careful.  I don’t want to be overly dramatic here.  I just want you to enjoy the hike.  A short fall on a hard rock can still hurt and the water is icy.  Literarily.  I say this as one who just hiked out with wet,  frozen feet.  Still worth it. Trust me.  When you get to the falls you’ll be amazed at the show nature can provide.  And the admission is free.  Go when it is cold and the weather is brutal.  Then pat yourself on then back when you make it out.  Don’t forget to go with your hiking buddy. If you catch the weather right, you’re in for a treat.