Hiking in the Catawba Basin
Information about trails and places to hike in the Catawba Basin.
The Catawba basin, particularly the upper portion of the basin has many excellent places to hike and camp. The best known areas are the Linville Gorge Wilderness area and Wilson Creek, but there are many other great places to hike, including trails to some seldom seen waterfalls.
Links to some of the best places to hike are listed below:
- Catawba Falls - This is a short (2 hours or less round trip) hike to one of the largest waterfalls in the Catawba Basin. The trail head is less than five minutes from the Old Fort exit from I-40.
- Crowders Mountain - Crowders Mountain State Park has an extensive network of short trails, with great views from the ridge and pinnacles of the Charlotte skyline and the entire region. It is a short drive west of Charlotte.
- Linville Gorge Wilderness Area - There are a wide variety of trails in and around Linville Gorge (the Grand Canyon of North Carolina) ranging from moderate day hikes to mult-day strenuous wilderness treks. Almost every trail has some spectacular views of the gorge. The hikes along the east rim of the gorge are slightly more strenuous, but may offer more spectacular scenery.
- Linville Falls - Enjoy spectacular views of two waterfalls surrounded by the steep walls of the Linville gorge. Linville Falls drop 90 feet into the 12-mile long Linville Gorge. Viewpoints of Linville Falls are easily accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Upper Creek Falls - Upper Creek Falls is located in the Jonas Ridge Area of Burke County near Linville Gorge. Trails leading to the top and bottom of the falls are popular among sunbathers, swimmers, and fishermen, and the view from the top is spectacular.
- Grandfather Mountain - There are many different day hikes and nature trails around Grandfather Mountain (near Blowing Rock, NC).
- Moses Cone State Park - This former estate has a variety trails, many of which are former carriage paths that are suitable for hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding.
- South Mountain State Park - This park is closer to Charlotte than Linville Gorge or Wilson Creek, but provides a decent network of trails for anything from a short day hike to a 2-day hike. There are also some beautiful waterfalls, or at least cascades. From the peaks, it is possible to view the Charlotte skyline.
- Wilson Creek and Lost Cove area of Upper Wilson Creek - This area has an excellent network of trails that is suitable for multi-day hikes or day hikes. There are numerous waterfalls on the creeks that feed Wilson Creek. For more information on how to get to the waterfalls, click here.
- Carolina Thread Trail - The Carolina Thread Trail will eventually connect large sections of the the Catawba basin with foot and bicycle trails. Some sections have been constructed and more sections are being opened regularly. More information about the Carolina Thread Trail is at http://www.carolinathreadtrail.org/. A conceptual map of the eventual network of thread trails is at http://www.carolinathreadtrail.org/index.php?id=18.
Riverwalk in Rock HIll, SC - The section on the west side of the River just below Hwy 21 is open and will soon connect to a section on the east side of the River north of Hwy 21.
Landsford Canal State Park - Located south of Rock Hill, SC, Landsford Canal has a trail that follows the historic Landsford Canal and there are viewing platforms of the Catawba River that offer beautiful views of the Spider Lilies when they are in bloom between mid-May and early June.
When you are hiking, particularly when you are around water cascades or waterfalls, remember that wet rocks are very slippery and people fall to their deaths from waterfalls every year! Please be careful and use common sense! Do not climb rocks around the waterfalls. Be careful on any stream crossing and do not ever cross a stream or swim at the top of a waterfall. Most of the trails described on this website are primitive trails and do not have any fences or safety nets to prevent children or adults from falling off of rocks.
Please be very careful not to trample vegetation while exploring around streams and waterfalls! There may be species of rare plants living in or near the spray areas.
Photographs on this page are provided courtesy of Rich Stevenson at ncwaterfalls.com. Copies of the photos can be purchased at www.ncwaterfalls.com.