The West Rim Trail
We started the trail at the trail head that is NOT at the main day use area. See link below for exact location. The section we did was just under three miles.
We did the loop clockwise walking along the rim. The views were incredible and only got better as the trail went along until we looped back and started the woodsy part of the trail.
I would rate this as a moderate trail only because of the tree roots and rocks on the rim section. The woods section is relatively easy with clear trails. For the most part it is pretty level but there are a few inclines you will trek up. That’s the main reason I would do it counterclockwise next time.
We only did the loop in this area. We opted to not go on to the waterfalls, but decided to head back to the car and drive over. A friend that had gone with us stayed back at the car because she had suddenly gotten sick. I wanted to go back to check on her anyway and get her thoughts on the rest of us going ahead with the other trail or if we needed to take her home.
The Waterfall Trail
When I first read about this section I knew I had to come and see it for myself. The massive staircase that leads to the base, with all 600 steps, is really something to see. I can’t imagine being one of the trail workers on that project.
The area is very pretty but it was also very crowded. I was relieved to see some very much-older-than-I folks making their way back up the steps. That gave me hope. I knew though that this was going to be a brutal hike back up. It was. The hike down was worth the pain I feel today. I am glad I did it.
There are two falls that the steps lead to. The first one you come to is Cherokee falls. If you don’t think you will be able to do the rest of the steps you can just do this one and come back up. This waterfall is gorgeous and reminds me of Foster Falls here in Tennessee. It is eerily similar. If you decide to go on down to the bottom you will see Hemlock falls. Stay there and rest up for the climb out. It took me right at thirty minutes to get back to the top. The two ladies that went down with me got back up a little sooner. I am slow on hills and stairs.
There are so many places to see in this park that I can’t wait to go back.