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Asheville Adventure of the week: Waterfall hike



1/31/2013 - Asheville Adventure of the week: Waterfall hike
by Karen Chavez

What: Swannanoa Valley Museum waterfall hiking series.

When: The first of five hikes will start at 9 a.m. Saturday. The dates of the remaining four hikes are April 6, June 1, Sept. 7 and Nov. 2.

Where: The five hikes will take place throughout the Swannanoa Valley, starting Saturday with Falls Branch, a waterfall on the property of the Grove Stone Quarry in Black Mountain. Hikers meet at the Black Mountain Savings Bank, 200 E. State St.

Cost: $20 for members and $30 for nonmembers.

Details: Waterfalls in Western North Carolina are so popular that if the Swannanoa Valley Museum could could sell them, they would never have to worry about fundraising again.

But the nonprofit museum that works to preserve and showcase the area's heritage may have hit on the next best thing -- selling hikes to waterfalls. Following on its very popular Swannanoa Valley Rim Explorer Hiking Series, the museum has launched its latest waterfall hiking series.

The five-hike series kicks off Saturday with a strenuous hike to the private Falls Branch waterfall at the Grove Stone Quarry.

Future hikes will feature hidden waterfalls in the valley, said hiking committee chair John Buckner.

"The Rim Series has been a very successful program, and there's always a lot of interest in waterfalls, so we decided to do a takeoff on that with the waterfalls," Buckner said. The Grove Stone Sand Co. environmental manager is leading the hike on Saturday. It's very difficult. It's about 3.5 miles but has 1,100 feet elevation gain in a mile. The first half of the hike is steep, with buschwhacking on steep slopes, and the last half is on logging road. It's a spectacular waterfall, partially cascade and partially free-falling."

The hike includes scenic views of the North Fork Valley and a tour by quarry manager Jason Conner, who will discuss the history and current operations of the quarry.

Grove Stone and Sand Co. was founded by E.W. Grove to supply rock to many structures around Asheville, such as the Grove Park Inn, Grove Arcade and Grovemont-on-Swannanoa. The quarry is still in operation.

Buckner said the next hike in April will be to a "secret waterfall" on private property in Yancey County. Other upcoming hikes will include Mitchell Falls, which lies in a conservation easement in Yancey County, and Catawba Falls, in Pisgah National Forest in McDowell County.

Spots are still available for the Rim Series, which begins Feb. 16 with a hike on Jesse's High Top Mountain and continues monthly through December. An orientation meeting for those interested in participating is 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at Black Mountain Savings Bank.

Register: Call Buckner, chair of hiking committee, at 669-4300 or email him at

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