When folks talk about Linville Falls they usually refer to the big falls in the gorge, and rightly so. But just south of the little town of Linville Falls, on US 221 as you travel the winding road down into the valley and Marion, N.C., there is a series of falls in the creek (river) that I’ve never heard anyone speak of and they deserve some notice, as they are quite picturesque. I don’t know if they have a name, so I just called them Cavern Falls, due to their close proximity to the Linville Caverns.
They are located on North Fork Catawba River, which runs just on the west side of the road. It’s not really visible unless you look down in there, but just above the entrance to Linville Caverns is a small pull off where you can access the falls. There might be room for two cars and that’s it, but it is safe to stop. Just be careful.
To access this area you should be traveling south on US 221, as there is no room and it will be dangerous to U-Turn. If you are coming from Marion, just go up hill past the entrance to Linville Caverns a ways and you will find a place to turn around safely. Just above the caverns is a runaway truck ramp. The pull off is just before that and there is a yellow “TRUCKS USE LOWER GEAR” sign right at the pull off.
I’ve known these falls were down there for quite a few years and I know the locals know too, and I finally had time to stop and go down in there on my most recent trip. There is an easy trail to get you down to creek level right from the pull off, but after that you are on your own and the journey to the bottom can get a bit iffy and slippery too. You will need to cross the creek and then slide down a hill to get to the bottom falls. Besides that, I think there is one more fall below that, but I didn’t go further.
It’s followed by a small cascade and a short slide and then several more falls.
These shots are in order of appearance from top to bottom. These next two are looking first upstream and then downstream below the above shot. The above falls is hiding behind that rock in the center top of this next shot.
Below the above slide you will find two more falls. Here’s a wide view and a close up of the first one.
The last one is the prettiest one in my humble opinion. Here is a wide view from above which shows the previous falls in the background, followed by a close up from down below.
I’m pretty sure there is one more down below, but I did not have the time nor did I think it was safe to venture further by myself. There is a sign at the top where you park that mentions it is private property, but that folks are welcome to fish, etc.
I’d bet there are more falls up river from here as well, though I don’t really know how or where to access them, but this is a long steep fall for this river from the top of the hill, and all of the above shots are close to the bottom, so there must be something above. I would guess it is also private property though, as you will see there are some residences and farms as you go down.
Anyway, I’m glad I stopped and all in all a nice place and worth the effort. I would bet this is a summer playground for locals.