White Owl Falls
8-1-16 I last visited White Owl Falls in early August 2016 and the photo above is from that day. That tree in front of the waterfall fell back in 2010 and then it was green and had a lot more branches. It was impossible to get a decent shot of the falls. Slowly but surely, people have been sawing on it over the years trying to clean up the view. White Owl is one of my favorite waterfalls even though it's only about 15' high. It's the first falls on the Thompson River on the Brewer Rd side of 281 and is very close to the road. The hike is less than 1/4 mile, and more moderate in difficulty. I wouldn't bring really small children down here, but bigger kids that don't mind a little rock scrambling should be OK. Plan on getting your feet wet if you want a shot of the falls from a good angle as you'll have to cross the creek or stand in it to get one.
Directions: From the intersection of US64 and NC281 south in the Lake Toxaway area, turn south on 281 and drive 3.6 miles (passing the entrance to Gorges State Park on the left) to Brewer Rd (SR 1189) on the left. Pull off, but don't drive down Brewer Rd. Instead, park in the wide area next to the bank at the top of the road next to 281. It's paved and there's room for several vehicles here. There's no official trail or signs here indicating that there are waterfalls in this area. This is also the same area you would park to hike the waterfalls on the Thompson River. Or, drive another 0.1 miles and there's a gravel pull of on the right side of 281 and begin the hike from there.
Begin the hike by walking south down 281 along the left side of the road. Keep hiking down 281 around the bend towards the 1st power pole. At the point where the guard rail begins on the left near that pole, cross the guard rail and look for the concrete drainage slab. You'll hear the waterfall at this point. Follow the trail down and pick up the small path at the base of the rocks (rip-rap) used to support the road bed. Follow the trail to the top of the falls, then down to the base. It's a little tricky here and will be slippery if wet. The trail comes out just past the pool below the falls and you'll have to wade across to get a good view. Below is a video from my 2016 visit, then 3 photos from various other visits.
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