Hidden Dome Falls - tributary of the Thompson River
11-11-06 Credit goes to Kevin Adams for this hidden waterfall. In October 2006 he invited me along on an aerial shoot over parts of western North Carolina. While over the Jocassee area, he spotted this waterfall that neither one of us could ID. Between Kevin, Bernie and me, it didn't take long to figure out where it was on the topo and Harry and I set out shortly after that to go investigate the area. Kevin calls this Hidden Dome Falls in the latest edition of his North Carolina Waterfalls book. This waterfall is for hardcore waterfall junkies only!
These directions are from the parking area on Brewer Rd at Hwy 281 south. They are basically the same as the ones to Big Falls, revised for this falls. Hike up the old gated logging road as if you were going to High Falls. Not too far in is a more overgrown road/path to the left. Do not take this left. Stay straight on the main road/path until it comes to the river at just under 1 1/4 miles. It usually takes us around 1/2 hour to get to this point. This road narrows to a single path over red clay at one point along the way, then widens back out. You will have heard the waterfall on Reid Branch off to the left then passed the side trail to High Falls. After this side trail, the road descends and switchbacks towards the river. Cross the river the best way you can. Remember I said you would probably have to get your feet wet. If the water levels are way up, the water will be very swift and deadly. This usually only happens after very heavy rains. Some heavy thunderstorms can create flash floods, so beware! Once you cross the river, keep following the logging road which is the main trail. It's still over a mile and a half to this waterfall.
The trail follows the river but is at different elevations above the river. Most times during the summer you can't see the river from the trail, but you'll hear it a lot along the way. There are a few primitive campsites on the left side of the trail after you cross the river. Less than 1/2 mile past the river crossing is the side path down to the base of waterfall #1. On my August 2007 trip, this path was fairly obvious and marked with flagging tape. I guess more people are going since Kevin's book came out. We rarely ever see anyone else in this area. On to the waterfall - about 1 1/2 miles after crossing the river, the trail turns to the left and crosses a tributary of the Thompson River. There's another trail to the left right before this - don't take this. Right after this wrong trail, there is some old logging era cable at your feet on the correct trail. Pass this cable and look for the next left (the main trail) down and across the tributary towards waterfall #2 and Big Falls. Don't take this! You'll notice that and old logging road continues up the right side of the tributary. This is where you want to go. This old road is overgrown, but it's obvious people have gone up through there. It follows the tributary up for about 0.3 miles to a tributary of this tributary. This is the creek that the waterfall is on. There's no trail at all up this creek, so it's a 1/4 mile fight through downfall and overgrown forest to see this 100' slide. Look at a topo map - you'll see both the tributary of the Thompson and the trib that the waterfall is on. Follow it up and it's obvious where the waterfall is. At the time of our trip, there was only one decent place to hang out and take photos from. The cliff is too steep to climb safely. If you decide to give it a try, save it for after some decent rainfall - the creek is very low volume by nature. Stay safe out there!
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