March, 2010

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Longpool and Pam’s Grotto Falls

Friday, March 26th, 2010

With all the rains earlier this week and last night, I knew the waterfalls would be running good today. I was able to leave work early today (thanks Boss!) to make a run up to Longpool and then up to Pam’s Grotto. I was a little worried that it might start raining on me but the rains held off, it stayed cloudy and it was absolutely perfect conditions for photographing waterfalls. And bonus – it was cooler today which made the hiking really nice.

I’ve have been to Longpool once before on New Year’s day 2008 and it’s a place I have been wanting to go back to with a little more water flowing over the main waterfall. Today, the water was flowing great.

The hike from the campground to the falls is really easy and short. Its a great place to take a family hike with the kids. When you first hit the stream with the waterfall, you can immediately see a smaller, beautiful double waterfall. I actually think this fall is prettier than the big one.

Lower Longpool Falls

Lower Longpool Falls

Lower Longpool Falls

View downstream from above Lower Longpool Falls

Just upstream and around the corner is the larger waterfall and it’s very impressive when the water is running well. The waterfall is 44′ tall and is quite loud. It’s difficult to get a great shot of this fall with all the trees that surround it and the steep slopes up the sides of the canyon but it’s worth the effort.

Upper Longpool Falls

Upper Longpool Falls

Upper Longpool Falls

After I finished taking my photos at Longpool I headed back to the car and off to Pam’s Grotto. I was actually planning on visiting 3 waterfalls that are real close together at Haw Creek Falls Campground – Haw Creek Falls, Pack-Rat Falls, and Pam’s Grotto. To get to Haw Creek Falls, you have to drive over the creek and today Haw Creek was running way to fast to attempt to cross it in my car, so I was limited to just visiting Pam’s Grotto which turned out to be just fine.

This was my first time to Pam’s Grotto and it was better than I imagined. I’ve heard it’s a great place but I’ve never seen photos of the area leading up to the falls. It was incredible. I was in awe the entire hike to the falls. There is a great trail that leads to the falls but it goes up and around the stream that the waterfall feeds and I prefer hiking the stream bed instead of going on the trails. When you take the trails you miss so much beautiful scenery along the way. However, hiking the stream means increasing your chance of slipping and falling forward and having your tripod strapped to your backpack hitting you in the back of the head…not that it happened to me or anything…but it could…and I think it’s worth it. The waterfall itself is 37′ tall and tucked away in a neat grotto area with huge boulders and large rock overhangs that provide a great place to set up camp judging by the number of campfire marks around the edge of the bluff.

Stream to Pam's Grotto

stream to Pam's Grotto and large boulders. You can see the waterfall in the background.

Pam's Grotto Falls

Pam's Grotto Falls with me in the photo for scale...and fun.

view from behind the falls

Waterfall and Boulder...note how big the boulder is.

Pam's Grotto Falls from back in the bluff

Pam's Grotto Falls

Pam's Grotto Falls

Pam's Grotto Falls

view downstream from the falls.

On my way back out, I decided to follow the trail to see where it led and I wondered if there might be a way to get above the falls and see what what was there. The trail was excellent and followed along the bluffline above the stream. I couldn’t find any way to gain access to the area above the falls. The bluffs were 50′ tall and vertical. There was one spot that I thought I might be able to make it but with the number of photographers that have fallen and been seriously injured or killed lately, I decided to play it safe and not take my chances. The hike back to the car was really nice and easy. This is another great area to take the kids to.