Climbing Wall Falls isn’t one of those highly familiar waterfalls like Looking Glass Falls, but because it’s just a couple miles away, I like to stop and take a few shots of Climbing Wall Falls. Roughly 7 miles from the intersection of US276/US64/NC280, Climbing Wall Falls gets its name from the sheer rock wall opposite the falls. This rock wall is used by rock climbers as a training site. I have even seen firefighters practicing on that very wall while my interests were focused more on the falls.
To see this waterfall, take the pullout opposite the rock wall. In all honesty, I never saw the rock wall driving up 276 until I saw the firefighters there. Heading up 276 towards the Blue Ridge Parkway, look for the rock wall on your right and the cement picnic tables on your left. If you pass Sliding Rock State Park, you’ve gone too far!
There is ample parking along 276 at these picnic tables. I like to take shots at the top (street level) and then climb down to get more interesting shots. If you’re an AARP member like me, you might find it easier to sit down and slide your way down to the base of the falls. Beware in the summer months that other creatures are in the woods besides you. I’m not a huge fan of snakes, but know they’re also sharing the forests with humans. Pay attention to what you’re doing!
My first couple visits to Climbing Wall Falls I stayed up on road level and took some great feathering shots of the side of the cascade. This waterfall is different than most. From street level, you see the side of the cascade. If you want to be at the base of the falls, climb down at the point farthest from Sliding Rock State Park. While I do suggest climbing down to the base to get a better view, please be extremely cognizant of wet, slippery rocks in addition to the potential for creatures in the woods. As a side note, as you climb down the rocks, make sure everything you’re taking with you is secured. I had a friend grab her second lens and pop it into a loose-fitting pants pocket and when she got to the bottom and leaned over for a photo, the lens rolled out of her pocket and into the water. Sadly, once you lose something in fast-moving water, you’re probably not going to find it.
I recommend combining this waterfall with Looking Glass Rock and Sliding Rock. You’ll be able to enjoy all three in a day’s time. A different combination hike, for those who don’t like to slide, would be: Moore Cove Falls, Looking Glass Rock, and Climbing Wall Falls.