Windy Falls (via NC 281)

Location: Western North Carolina
Trip Starts: NC 281 Parking Area
Trip Ends: NC 281 Parking Area
Total Distance: 8.2 miles
Hike Type: In & Out, Backtrack Hike
Hike Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Trails Used: Green, Windy Falls Trails
Trail Traffic: Light to Moderate
Trip Type: Overnight Hike
More Information:

Gorges State Park
NC 281 South, P.O. Box 100
Sapphire, NC 28774-0100
(828) 966-9099


Gorges State Park is one of North Carolina’s newest state parks.  The property was purchased by the state from Duke Energy Corporation, and the transaction includes a 2,900-acre game land managed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.  The 7,100-acre state park has plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock walls and one of the greatest concentrations of rare and unique species in the eastern United States.

This hike to Ray Fisher pond starts at the Grassy Ridge parking area in the park – which is also the trailhead for Rainbow Falls.  The trail shares the path with the Rainbow Falls Trail but quickly breaks off to the left to leave the crowds behind and descend to Ray Fisher Pond.  This pond once had an adjacent campsite with picnic tables, fire rings, and a pit toilet, but camping is no longer permitted here although there are other backcountry sites that you can reserve from Gorges State Park. From the pond, you can either backtrack to the trailhead or take a short side-hike to Windy Falls or to a viewing platform at Bearwallow Falls.  Both have scenic overlooks, but access to Windy Falls is more difficult due to some challenging terrain and the need for excellent route finding skills. 

GPS Coordinates:

Speak Your Mind