The Toxaway River is usually first seen from Hwy 64 in Lake Toxaway as you pass over it in a vehicle. There's a nice wide shoulder on the dam side to pull over, park, and take a look. Lake Toxaway is on the upper side of the road. Toxaway Falls then spills and slides over some very colorful bedrock in a 240' change in elevation before the river disappears into the forest. In 1916, the dam gave way and Lake Toxaway came gushing down the gorge, stripping away the dense vegetation and exposing the bedrock along the falls and below.
There have been 2 major recent changes with Toxaway Falls. The 1st is obvious - more ugly condos have been and are being built down the right (west) side of the waterfall - what an eyesore. The 2nd change I didn't realize until I read Kevin Adams' new edition of his NC Waterfalls book. The waterfall is now part of Gorges State Park - or at least half of it is according to a park official I just spoke to (10-6-05). She stated the boundary line runs through the middle of the river. If you've been in this area recently, you may have noticed the yellow boundary markers and a place that looks like a new road has been put in that heads down the east side of the waterfall. It might be a service road at some point, but the gravel ends and all that is left is a faint fisherman's trail that leads towards the base of the waterfall. Remember, this is not an established trail or an access point to visit the park. At least now the east side of the waterfall can't be developed!
We've explored different sections of the river at different times and the following photos are from the various trips. They begin at Toxaway Falls and head down river. One trip was especially memorable and we saw some of the most awesome sites we have seen in this area. The plan was to follow the river 3 miles down from Toxaway Falls to Wintergreen Falls, pick up the 'trail' below the falls on the east side of the river to Augerhole Rd, then head back up to Frozen Creek Rd for a total of about 8 miles. Harry and I had come down Augerhole Rd, then up river to Wintergreen a few years ago, but hadn't been any farther up than that. The main reason is that there is NO TRAIL. Do not even think about attempting this if you have little to no off trail experience - you won't make it and you'll risk the lives of the rescue people that will have to come in and recover what's left of your body. No matter what your level of experience, don't do it if the river is up or if there is rain in the forecast. The rock will be too slippery and dangerous and the river will be too swift. We had no idea what we would run across, but figured on lots of rock hopping, wading in the river, and bushwhacking. We picked a day that there was absolutely no rain in the forecast, left a vehicle at the Frozen Creek access, then headed up to the bridge. We descended from the east side of the bridge, then picked a flat place to safely cross before reaching the bottom of the falls. The next few shots are views back up the falls.
To continue, we had to be on the west side of the river (above photo). There are some fishing trails that head down river from hear, but not very far. I'd say 80-90% of the river from here to Wintergreen Falls flows over bedrock in a long series of cascades and waterfalls. There is very little flat ground - the elevation at the bridge is 3000' and 1800' at the base of the falls. Next stop was the Twin Falls of Thompson River. Click here to see and continue the Toxaway River tour.
Or if you're bored already, you can...
go back to Gorges State Park page