I would not include pets on the hike to Upper Dill Falls. Why? The hike is easy enough and fairly cleared, but the path down to the base of Upper Dill Falls requires “bushwhacking”. My photos of Upper Dill Falls were so different from the picture in Kevin Adams’ book, that I emailed him one of the pictures to see if it was Upper Dill Falls. You know, for a guy who wrote the waterfall book I use religiously, he’s very kind and answers his emails almost right away. I have emailed Kevin to verify three waterfalls, and each time he was very gracious in his response. Nice to know he’s there to confirm a cascade if needed. Of the three waterfall shots I’ve sent Kevin, this one was correct!!! Yay!
As is the case with Dill Falls, accessing Upper Dill Falls is fairly easy. Trailheads for both falls are adjacent to one another at the end of FR 4663B, which is accessed via Forest Road 4663, about 2-3 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway on Hwy 215. As a side note, Hwy 215 is part of the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway.
While Dill Falls trailhead goes downhill, the trailhead for Upper Dill Falls ascends immediately. The path that leads down to the base of the falls wasn’t very clear as we hiked, because there was a downed tree on the path. It wasn’t until after we hiked too far along the path that we realized we must have missed it. Sure enough, we did miss the path leading down. Believe me when I tell you that hiking down to the base of Upper Dill Falls is a bit treacherous but doable. I had my hiking stick and my tripod for balance and still struggled getting to the base of the falls. My best recommendation is to take your time and be patient. When hiking downhill, if the path is too steep, I sit down and slide down the path. Seems a bit crazy to do, but I don’t like to fall. My two replaced knees shouldn’t take the brunt of any kind of fall either, so sitting down is common sense to me. When climbing back out, I find leaning forward as far as I can keeps me from tumbling backwards downhill. I have come to realize just how helpful the forest is for me. I grab anything that’s solid and immobile as a way of pulling myself back uphill; namely trees, bushes, weeds, tree stumps, and even groundcover. I’ve made the mistake, in the past, of trying to pull myself up out of a gorge using a downed tree that wasn’t stable. I only made that mistake once, by the way. Now I test everything I grab onto to ensure it can hold my weight and assist me in climbing up a steep hill.
There was a great deal of debris covering Upper Dill Falls, which is why I wasn’t sure it was a match with the picture in Kevin’s book. I’m fascinated at how much waterfalls change from one day to the next. Mother Nature plays a huge part in that change and helps me understand just how powerful “she” can be. Waterfalls are living, breathing, and moving. They are constantly changing, especially in the different seasons. I used to believe photographing waterfalls wasn’t something I wanted to do in the winter months, or after weeks of dry, rainless days. How could I have been so wrong? Those are the best times to see what kind of changes occur when Mother Nature takes charge.