Mild winter days make for excellent opportunities to view waterfalls, because the foliage that can obscure views during spring and summer is dormant. Pisgah National Forest, about two hours from Winston-Salem, features numerous waterfalls. Two easily accessible cascades in the forest are Toms Creek Falls and Roaring Creek Falls.
Toms Creek Falls
Toms Creek Falls is a 60-foot cascade broken up into three separate drops, the longest of which is 30 feet. The falls are accessible from a parking area located off of Huskins Branch Road in Marion. The trail is only about a half-mile long out and back, and the Forest Service has built a smooth gravel path and installed a bridge across the only creek-crossing along the way. Elevation gain is minimal, resulting in an accessible hike fit for families that include young children.
Roaring Creek Falls
Roaring Creek Falls is a long, sloping mix of slides and cascades, almost as long as it is high. The falls are accessible from a parking area located off of Busick Work Center road. From Winston-Salem, the access requires a drive up N.C. 80, a winding mountain highway featuring a number of stunning views. The hike is a little over a half-mile up a logging road with a soft grade. Follow the blue blazes. Hiking the road is relaxing. It’s ensconced in forest, and the loudest sound will most likely be the gravel crunching beneath your boots. The logging road leads to a short footbridge about 300 feet from the falls, but continues on, so be sure to cut out at the footbridge with the blue blaze. Like Toms Creek Falls, the hike is easy and should be accessible to all hikers and families with small children.
As with all hikes, stick to the trail and don’t cut switchbacks. Cutting switchbacks increases erosion and trail degradation. Be careful around the falls, wet and mossy rock is always more slippery than it appears.