Tuesday Trail Tips: Moonshine Falls

The votes are in and Moonshine Falls takes second place to the cables you gotta cross to get there!  3 miles in and 3 miles out.  What an adventure – one none of us will soon forget.


Tuesday Trail Tips:  MOONSHINE FALLS

2.8 miles one way

Moderate Hike w/ a cable crossing over Matthews Creek

Accessed via Asbury Hills (important notes below!!!)

Asbury Hills is kind enough to let folks access the trail to Moonshine Falls through their camp.  The entrance is gated however, and you need a code to get in on the weekends.  Call ahead or email them – they are very quick to respond and quite friendly!  Trust me, you don’t wanna drive all that way and then not have a code to get in (been there, done that) Also note that they are closed when summer camp is in session, which is May 15th – August 15th.  So plan ahead friends!

Be sure to print off Asbury Hill’s map before you go.  The trail is marked with red blazes, but it gets a little tricky as there are quite a few connecting trails along the way.  SUCH AS the Naturaland Trust Trail, whose blaze is pink which looks kinda like red and can easily lead you far, far away from Moonshine Falls.  Which some might think of as an adventure…while others might end up in the dark, crying…(pretty sure I would be the second)Red BlazeIt’s a beautiful, fairly easy hike.  Just a little long, you know, for certain tweens who have MUCH better things to do with their life.  But I’m telling ya – the cable crossing over Matthews Creek and the falls themselves are worth every step.  And my kids LOVED it.  The cable crossing is over a rocky creek, so it’s not for little ones, unless you carry them across.  Which I did with my youngest and it was fine.  Just be careful, and as the sign shown further down says, “Respect your physical limitations”!DSC_0220

DSC_0252.JPGAfter crossing Matthew’s Creek, you’ve still got a ways to go before arriving to the falls. You will pass several markings and signs along the way.  Pay attention to these and your map and you will be all good.

AND FINALLY…Moonshine Falls.  We put on 50 layers and braved the cold, which turned out to be a great decision.  Icicles everywhere…it was a winter wonderland.  Beautiful with the lush green mountain laurel and 40′ waterfall.


Fun fact:  You can go behind this waterfall.  And make you some Moonshine.  Just kidding y’all, don’t do that.  Seriously though – the barrels are still there and it’s a huge cave.  We stayed here and explored for long time.  Plan on a good half day to full day for this hike.  Especially if you want to explore or have kids with you.

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Moonshine Falls was one of my hiking goals for the year…checking that off felt great!  Loved this adventure. And the fact that our day of hiking ended with the view below was really neat.  My legs were sore, my heart was full.


Until next Tuesday, happy trails!


2018: A Series of Goals

2018 Resolutions / Goals:  Exercise more.  Eat healthier.  Drink less wine.

Y’all – I’m totally kidding so don’t stop reading (aren’t we all tired of that?!)!  In all honesty, I haven’t even thought much about a resolution for this New Year, but I do have some goals I want to reach in 2018.  Speaking of goals, I recently attended an event where an incredible speaker told us that in order to accomplish any goal, you must be emotional driven, like tears running down your cheeks, goosebumps everywhere, and just completely passionate about it.  Or you will never reach that goal.  It was powerful.  Truly changed the way I think about goal setting.  Because honestly, we all like to set goals, but how many of us truly meet those goals?!  It’s fun to think about, but actually follow through with?  Hmmm…not so fun.

So what are my goals?  What am I passionate about?  I want to hike more.  Read more.  Give more.  And connect more.  The specifics are important, so for this post I am going to focus in on the goal of hiking more.  Stay tuned for the others.


In 2017 I hiked quite a bit, and loved every minute of it.  You can find a lot of the hikes we took here.  And what did I learn?

  • Preparation is key.  I never do this but it’s a good idea y’all.  It will prevent you from the following:
    • Getting lost (on the way there, on the trail, on the way home…)
    • Arriving only to find out the park is closed or you need a pass or code.
    • Hiking a trail you thought was “easy” but turns out to be “EXTREMELY STRENUOUS – like you may not get out alive”
    • Hiking a trail you thought was short but turns out to take 4 long hours (with children)
    • Not having water for when you are experiencing the above hardships.
    • Wearing your cute new Target workout gear but freeze because oops it’s cold in the mountains sometimes.
  • Hiking is the best family time hands down.
    • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Hiking is the perfect escape.  Homework, schedules, work, laundry, sports…everyday life is hectic, sometimes overwhelming.  We have to cut off our phones, turn off the TV, put the iPad up, leave the X-Box behind. Because then my kids are forced to talk to me and you know what?  We have some pretty awesome conversations.  We laugh together.  Talk about life.  Really connect.
  • Hiking is empowering.
    • How you ask?  Try hiking straight up almost 4 miles (and almost keeling over), then seeing the view from the top of that mountain.  It’s incredible.  My 8 year old hiked Table Rock this year and she still talks about it as one of her proudest moments.  It’s empowering.  Great exercise yes, but really just good for the soul.

So, you ask, what are my exact hiking goals for 2018?  What trails would I like to make sure I hike?  Here you go!

I plan on many more, but y’all know they will just be whatever I decide on that particular day.  Don’t forget – you can go back to the same place more than once.  We LOVE Paris Mountain and Table Rock, among others, and each time offers a different experience. A different view.  And a great time outside.

I would love to hear your favorite hikes in South Carolina and Western North Carolina.  Lemme know.

Cheers to 2018 and all that it may bring!


Tuesday Trail Tips: Pearson’s Falls

We like to take the scenic route.  Everywhere we go.  We love to get lost and take the long way.  I’m kidding. Siri is just downright mean.  She likes to scare me every now and then by taking me on some back road to nowhere.

Once again, I thought Siri was leading us off track.  She took us down dirt road.  Along a river.  Through a one way tunnel.  In the still snow covered mountains.  While beautiful, I was getting a little worried, but we finally made it to our destination – Pearson’s Falls.  Where the kind attendant laughed when I told him I went through a tunnel.  “You definitely went the scenic route,” he said.  “You can go another way to get back, it’s much quicker.”  Guess what, we didn’t.  We took the long way.  And Siri was happy.


Tuesday Trail Tips:  Pearson’s Falls and Glen

1/4 mile trail to the falls

$5 / adult, $1 / kids 6-12, Under 6 you’re free!  Find more info about fees and hours here.

Glen:  A narrow valley (don’t act like you knew that…I can’t be the only one who had to look it up)

The hike is short and the falls are gorgeous.  So those of you with little ones, this is a must!  I have never seen so many benches and picnic tables.  Really y’all, it’s a beautiful spot – perfect for families.  Take some time to read about the history here.   It’s a “botanical wonderland” indeed.

Want a little more?!?  Visit Saluda’s charming main street.  It’s a short drive from Pearson’s Falls and most definitely worth the trip.

Start with ice cream (even if there’s snow on the ground!) and shop a little at Duck Alley. Then head to the Saluda Historic Depot, a fascinating museum dedicated to the preserving the history of the Saluda Grade.  I’ve heard there are some good restaurants too – we plan to check them out next time.

Until next time, happy trails…


Tuesday Trail Tips: Wildcat Wayside Nature Trail

This is one of those places you have probably passed by 100 times and never thought anything of it.  I have seen it all my life on the way to Caesar’s Head or Table Rock, but never took the time to stop.  This weekend we had things to do, but it was too gorgeous of a day not to get out and explore.  The trail I planned on hiking was actually Moonshine Falls, which apparently you have to call ahead and get a gate code in order to access the trailhead.  Did I call ahead??  No, silly, why would I do such a thing?  I like learning the hard way.

SO…really that’s how we ended up here.  Plans often change…due to my inability to research.  But in the end, I was glad.  This was a great place to have a picnic and hike a peaceful, easy looping trail. And with 4(ish) waterfalls, it’ was a great place to explore that my kids thoroughly enjoyed.

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Tuesday Trail Tips:  Wildcat Wayside Nature Trail

1 mile loop – Easy

Waterfalls galore – and right off Hwy 11 (Geer Hwy)!

I suggest stopping here next time you are on your way to the “big stuff”.  It’s worth it – even if you just take in the first two waterfalls – which are steps away from the parking area.  If you do the loop, you will find the 100′ upper falls, but really the first two are the prettiest.  The loop is just a nice walk through the woods.

Of course, don’t climb the upper falls – it’s dangerous.  People have died here – in fact, I remember hearing about it as a kid.  EVERY time we passed by.  So we did NOT do any climbing!

There are no picnic tables so we just found a nice spot by the creek and ate our lunch.  Make sure to leave no trace!  It may be because of the location, but the trail had more litter than most, unfortunately.

I imagine the lower falls make for a great swimming hole in the summer.  Dogs are welcome, as long as they are on a leash.  And as long as they are cleaned up after (really though, have you ever been hiking and stepped in dog doo?  It kinda ruins the mood ya know?!)

SO…what’s next on my list? Well, Moonshine Falls of course 🙂

Until next Tuesday, Happy Trails!

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Upper Falls


Tuesday Trail Tips: Rainbow Falls Trail (Gorges State Park, NC)

You told me and I finally listened!  Gorges State Park is gorgeous (too much? oh well, it’s true).  From the impressive Visitor Center to the falls themselves, this park is pristine – just beautiful.  There are picnic shelters with huge fireplaces.  Fishing along Bearwallow Creek and Toxaway River.  Trails for every level of hiker (including a section of the Foothills Trail with a suspension bridge – I will be back for that one!) Camping adventures.  Breathtaking views.  I could go on and on but I will refrain as to not completely bore you before I even get to the trail!

Oh (and this is important!) here’s the address – with all of the “Gorges” parks and “Rainbow Falls” it can get confusing:  Gorges State Park 976 Grassy Ridge Road SapphireNC 28774.

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Rainbow Falls Trail:  Top Tips

  • 3 mile round trip along the Horse Pasture River
  • Strenuous hike (per Gorges State Park website – see my notes further down)
  • There are quite a few “death has occurred here” signs – always remember to be careful – use common sense – don’t go near edges…you get the idea (I hope)
  • Tip – do not stop at Rainbow Falls.  Just a quarter of a mile further is Turtleback Falls, which is well worth continuing on to.
  • Other notes:  There is no fee to get into Gorges State Park.  Carry all trash out.  Overall park map with Rainbow Falls Trail circled is at the very bottom of the post.

Curvy roads with breathtaking views lead you past the Visitor down to the Grassy Ridge Trailhead, where you will find the Rainbow Falls Trail entrance.  You will follow the orange blaze.

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The trail follows the Horse Pasture River upstream.  To me, there is nothing quite like hiking deep in the woods, listening to sounds of water flowing by.  It’s incredibly therapeutic.

We hiked this trail mid-October, but it was still warm.  The leaves were just starting to turn, as you will see in the photos.  I imagine the next couple of weeks will be magnificent for leaf peeping.

The trail is considered “strenuous” – but I had my kids with me and it was definitely doable.  There are several sets of stairs, but overall we thought it was easy to manage.



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We made a couple stops along the river and explored, but do be careful.  The river is deep and the current is strong.  But y’all, talk about relaxing.  Sun in your face.  Sounds of water rushing past you.  Tall trees surround you.  Feel like you are there yet!?!!?

Continuing along the trail you will hear the sounds of a waterfall getting louder and louder.  That moment when you turn the corner and see Rainbow Falls is incredible.  It is a glorious 150′ waterfall.


Rainbow Falls

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Rainbow Falls

DON’T TURN AROUND YET!  Turtleback Falls is only a quarter mile up the trail and is really pretty as well.  I have heard it makes a great swimming hole in the summer.  There were quite a few hammocks set up – I really wanted to jump in one and join the relaxing fun, but thought that might be awkward 😉


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Turtleback Falls

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Turtleback Falls

Really y’all – I cannot say enough good things about this park.  I can’t wait to go back and explore more of it.  And the Visitor Center – I could have snapped photos there all day.  An architectural dream with views to match.  Unfortunately we walked up right as they were closing it up, so we didn’t get to see the inside.  If you want to check it out, be sure to go between 9am and 4pm Monday – Friday.  On Saturday & Sunday it is open until 5pm.

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Until next Tuesday, Happy Trails!

Gorges State Park Map

Circled in red is the Rainbow Falls Trail.  Zoom in!  Thank you to North Carolina Division of Parks & Recreation for this very helpful map.



Tuesday Trail Tips: Sassafras Mountain



Ok, so I didn’t actually hike a trail… no one was really feeling it, but it was a gorgeous day for a drive and I was curious to see if the leaves were starting to change (this was Saturday 10/14)  And guess what…you can drive right up to the top of Sassafras Mountain – the highest point in South Carolina at 3,553 feet.  You can see four states from here – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee!  The leaves were just started to change, so not much color yet, but it’s coming!!


There is a lookout right next to the parking lot once you get to the top.  THIS IS NOT THE VIEW PEOPLE.  Well, not the main view.  I will not name names, but someone very close to me told me Sassafras Mountain may not be worth the trip – the view isn’t that great.  I couldn’t believe that, so of course I had to go for myself.  And guess what nameless person did?  Only went to the lookout next to the parking lot.  I am dying right now as I type this.  It cracks me up.  Because there are 360 degree views just right up the path (insert insane, loud laughter).  Ok, so it’s not like it’s clearly marked – Come up this way!.  It’s fun to give nameless person a hard time, but I get it.  And they think it’s funny too (although maybe not as much as I do).


So my one and only tip is to let you know that you must follow either the trail next to the lookout or the paved path (it’s gated), which you will see as you enter the parking lot.

And then you will find this (pictures don’t do it justice of course!):


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If you want to hike, there are definitely options.  You can park / start at Chimneytop Gap, which I passed as I drove to the peak (gasp), and hike the 2.7 miles to the top of Sassafras.  Also this of course is part of the Foothills Trail, which spans over 76 miles through South Carolina and North Carolina.  So if you are daring you could do it all 😉  I have researched quite a few sites and Wikipedia actually lays out the different sections of the Foothills Trail pretty well, check it out here.

Whether you drive or hike to the top of Sassafras Mountain, you are in for a treat.

Until next Tuesday, Wednesday, or whenever, happy trails!


Tuesday Trail Tips: Pleasant Ridge County Park: JFA Trail

This hike is pretty significant y’all.  Why?  Because it was my first solo hike.  5(ish) miles of me, myself, and I.  Once I decided that all the noises I kept hearing were just squirrels, and not some serial killer stalking me, it was quite pleasant.  Hiking on a warm October day, with the leaves just starting to show a bit of color, all by myself, was just what I needed (although cooler fall weather…WHERE ARE YOU?!!?!)


I have known about Pleasant Ridge County Park for some time as our church youth group attends the Camp & Retreat Center here.  And I can see why it’s popular with children and adults alike – it’s a fantastic place.  In fact, it’s home to Camp Spearhead and Camp Courage , where kids with cancer, blood disorders, or special needs get to be just to be just that – KIDS.


So…I did a little off the trail exploring.  There is a gleaming pool next to the gorgeous retreat center.  And an awesome ropes course that I gave serious thought to climbing up, but feared cameras would catch me and I would be arrested.  Or I would fall and no one would find me for days (not a soul was around!).  Really though, just a great place to get away!


The focus was to hike, and hike I did.  5ish miles in the woods on a trail that seemed like would be best used as a mountain biking trail.  Which, actually, it is!


  • JFA stands for Jorge Francisco Arango.  From what I can gather, he loved mountain biking and dogs.  
  • 5.3 mile loop
  • You can only go one way on the JFA Trail, so no marked-up map this time. (Oh and the map below is from this site, I could not seem to find a clearer version!) 
  • Bikers ride the opposite way as hikers (watch those curves so you don’t get run over!).  And apparently this rotates on a monthly schedule so you get the opportunity to hike / bike both ways.  That’s excellent!
  • On Tuesdays and Thursdays you can bike until 10 PM (any direction allowed)
  • Know the Trail Rules



I almost hiked the full 5.3 miles…but do you see that cute little dark purple line named Sassy’s Pass?  Well I may or may not have used that cut-through.  So it may or may not have been a bit shorter of a hike than 5.3 miles.  Hopefully I didn’t miss anything too fantastic (LET ME KNOW IF SO I HAVE FOMO AND WILL GO BACK!).

It’s a great trail, but you are alongside the park roads for some of it, and hear a lot of the traffic from that and Hwy 11. There are definitely some interesting stops along the way, such as a cat and a lonesome chimney.  Oh and be sure to visit the fishing pond! (which is up the road from the JFA trailhead)


It was a great time to reflect, connect with God, think about anything and everything, pray I don’t get murdered, and get in some good exercise.

Until next Tuesday, Happy Trails!