Sols Creek Falls
Harry first saw Sols Creek Falls mentioned on WLOS's 'Outdoors with Bob Caldwell' in April '03 and suggested we check it out. The only problem is that it's only accessible by boat. Sols Creek flows into Bear Creek Reservoir and the 120' falls is surrounded by steep rock cliffs making access by land virtually impossible - plus, it's private property. So we loaded up Harry's john boat, electric trolling motor, and spare battery and set out for some more exploring. The reservoir is off of Hwy 281 - the boat ramp is off of Bear Lake Rd, 15 miles north of where Slick Fisher Rd comes in to 281. If you are in the Cashiers area, you can head up Hwy 107 north, turn right on 281 south and drive just over 4 miles to Bear Lake Rd on the right. I believe there are signs indicating this is a boat access area.
The trip back up the reservoir took about an hour, but it was a nice mid April day and we were in no particular hurry. It would probably take about the same amount of time by canoe - motor boat would be a whole lot less. Luckily, Harry knew the way - I was just along for the ride. Basically, head south on the reservoir to the island and turn left into the cove. As you enter the cove where the falls is located, you can see the very top of the falls above the trees.
You can see a small boat in the lower middle which is a good tie-up point. Harry pulled up to the left a little farther back in the cove and we picked up the trail from there. It's maybe a quarter mile hike to the falls and the trail is fairly easy. I read that the waterfall is on private property, but it's not posted and is a popular spot for boaters in warmer weather. This doesn't make it right - I'm not sure what it makes it, just use your own judgment. We have since gone back and I was able to snap this one off before the lens got covered in spray.
On the way back to the truck, we pulled the boat into another cove to check out a 40' falls spilling into the reservoir. There was no place on the bank to get a decent shot, so I just took this one from the boat. We're pretty sure this is Big Branch, so this is now the Falls on Big Branch.
9-9-09 Upper Sols Creek Falls update - A few visitors to the site have said there are now rocks across the drive I mention below and 'no trespassing' signs. One visitor said he talked with the landowner and he said the reason for this was someone slaughtered a horse down this road. The landowner said he still didn't mind if hikers walked down this drive to visit the waterfall. The waterfall is on national forest property, but I'm not sure where the property line is.
Kevin Adams is a really nice guy and was generous enough to share a real beauty he found on upper Sols Creek while doing research for his new book - North Carolina Waterfalls - a Hiking and Photography Guide. And you don't need a boat to see it. You will have to get your feet wet, though. If you came from Slick Fisher Rd up 281 north, you passed a single lane dirt/gravel/grass drive 10.5 miles on the right. Park along 281 in the wide area at this drive and walk a short ways down the road to the mud hole. Sols Creek is just beyond this. You can scoot up the bank to the left to avoid the mud. You'll notice a trail, but this trail crosses the creek a couple of times. I've been 3 times now and the easiest thing to do is to walk in the creek part of the way, so plan on it. Just wear an old pair of tennis shoes or something you don't mind getting soaking wet. You may be up to your knees in a couple of places. Just be careful - it'll be slippery! The waterfall is less than 1/2 mile up the creek and is a beauty!
The main drop of the waterfall in the background of the above photo is over 50' high. If you are very careful and the water level isn't too high, you can scoot up the right side of the cascade below the main drop, cross the creek just above that boulder in the middle, then finish the climb up the left side to the base of the upper drop. If you aren't careful, you'll slip, bust your head open and get blood all over the rocks - please don't do that. If you do manage to get up there in one piece, the view is awesome. Can we all say 'thank you, Kevin!'
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