by Brian o’Shea
Picklesimer Falls is not as grand as the vistas from Whiteside Mountain or the three-tiered cascading Glenn Falls, but it has a charm of its own, nestled a half mile off the road in Blue Valley.
Like many waterfalls in Western North Carolina, visitors can walk behind the falls while surrounded by a giant natural amphitheater of rock. The Falls are approximately 40 feet high, and flow varies depending on recent rainfall. Swing by in late August and it may be a slight trickle, springtime tends to flow pretty strong.
Because of its proximity to the road, Picklesimer Falls is a great option for a picnic, as you don’t have to carry in the supplies very far. If time is a factor, swing by, see something amazing, and be on your way. The Falls lead into a creek and, combined with rock formations, the entire area is a photographer’s wonderland.
Picklesimer Falls is gorgeous and easy to get to – from Highlands, drive about six miles on Highway 28 and then hang a right at Blue Valley Road. Keep driving straight (road turns gravel) until your reach a US Forest Service map with camping regs, policies, etc. Hang a left at this sign. Strangely, this turn is not included in several descriptions of Picklesimer Falls online, but it’s a crucial part in the scheme of things.
Drive approximately a half-mile from the USFS sign and as the road curves to the right, there is a small one-car pull-off on the left side of the road. The trailhead is an old logging road that goes up to the right. Walk past the USFS gate and continue up the trail.
It’s only a half-mile to the Falls and the majority is uphill, but hang in there, it’s short and you’re almost there! The trail eventually levels off and hikers come upon a grassy clearing. The trail may not be very visible in this clearing because of overgrown grass, but head to the archway at the treeline across the clearing. Be wary of snakes going through the grass.
Due to recent storms, there are some fallen trees and debris in the creek below the Falls, with some stretching from top to the bottom. Please use common sense when visiting the Falls. The top is accessible to hikers, but people have fallen off in the past, resulting in serious injury. There are no signs or guardrails, so again, use common sense and be careful.