Saturday, May 7, 2016

April 28, 2016 - Exploration of upper Silver Run Creek


Anybody that knows how to read a topo map can make an educated guess where a waterfall should be. If the contour lines are close together, it's steep. If there's a creek shown running across those lines, it's falling water of some type. The above map is the area of the well known Silver Run Falls near Cashiers. I have the waterfall labeled at the bottom of the map. The area circled in blue at the top of the map is the upper reaches of Silver Run Creek and it certainly looks like there is a waterfall there. It's been on several people's radar over the past years, but nobody that we know of has made an attempt to find out - until today.

Famed waterfall explorer, nature photographer, and author Kevin Adams was one of the people that knew about this and he called to see if I was interested in exploring the area - oh hell yes. The thing is, there probably aren't any trails and there's private property that needs to be avoided. You just don't know what you'll run into until you get out there. The waterfall itself is public property and is in the Nantahala National Forest. Kevin had talked with a Facebook friend of ours - Spencer Clary - who also had his eye on the area. Spencer, his lady friend Stephanie Blue Brooks, and their group of friends are no strangers to off trail exploring, so Kevin messaged Spencer to see if he wanted to come. He had to work, but Stephanie wanted to go, so the 3 of us made plans to meet. Kevin had a more detailed paper map and I had my GPS with topo software which would show us where we were at all times.

This type of activity isn't for everyone. I'm not going to say exactly how we went because I don't want people wandering around out in the woods lost because of this. There it is circled on the map if you would like to give it a try. Once we got into the woods, we were able to pick up an old logging road that took us in the general direction we needed to go. The forests have a lot of these that were used years ago during the logging days. Most are no longer maintained, but can be followed on foot with little trouble. Along this old road we came across the headwaters of another creek. The water was making a nice splashing sound as it spilled over a ledge, so we went down to take a closer look.

Very nice! From the maps we knew we had to be on the other side of the ridge from where we were, so we all decided on a spot to begin the steep ascent to the top. Luckily, this was mostly open woods, but it was steep! After reaching the knob we wanted to be on, we followed the ridge line until we found the spot where we wanted to descend into the upper Silver Run Creek drainage. The woods were thicker here, but still not too bad. After making it down near creek level, we found another old road we were able to follow to a point where we knew we had to be in the creek to see what we wanted to see. By now we were in the far right part of the blue circled area in the above map. In areas like this, the rhododendron is generally thick along the creek and this was no exception. I know all of us have done worse and nobody was complaining. We came across some smaller slides and cascades, then this first significant waterfall. It's only about 15' high and was surrounded by dead trees that have fallen, but I snapped a quick picture anyway.

Not too far below that was another nice small waterfall where we decided to take a break. We still had plenty of daylight and we knew we were getting close to the prize. Kevin picked today because there was supposed to be a 50% chance of rain and we figured there would be a lot of cloud cover, but the weather guy blew it again. We had mostly sunny skies which isn't generally good for waterfall shooting.

There was another drop directly below this one and this was out next stop.

The waterfalls were getting progressively better and just below this one was the one we were after. The creek dropped off of a cliff and we had to find a safe way down. Stephanie took a look and said she thought the right side of the cliff looked better, so she led the way. We actually had to go up and away from the creek so we could avoid the rock wall, then drop down towards the base. Wow - what a spectacular find! We were all as thrilled as we could be. The falls is a drop of about 50' and there was minimal clutter around the waterfall. You never know when a new find might be covered with dead and fallen trees. First off I had Kevin and Stephanie pose on a log in front of the falls.

Kevin and Stephanie

We all then settled in and continued to enjoy the waterfall. Kevin and Stephanie discussed naming the waterfall and came up with Fulfillment Falls. We saw no evidence at all that anyone else had been here recently - no trash, no trails - nothing. You have to figure that since this is gamelands, hunters or fishermen have probably been here in the past - but maybe not! For a modern day explorer, it doesn't get much better than this.

Below are a few more shots, then some video I shot along the way.

Fulfillment Falls
Kevin shooting from the side

the 3 Musketeers


  1. Wow! How exciting!! Love the name you chose - beautiful pics too!

  2. This is so tantalizing. Darn country clubs everywhere down that way!

    1. Andy Kunkle went in from the 281 side and stayed on national forest property the whole way. Was a combination of old forest roads and bushwhacking. My guess it's pretty dried up now.