Pearson’s Falls NC
Keep your eyes open for the turnoff on Highway 176, Pearson’s Falls is easy to miss. Over the years lots have people have driven right by not even knowing it exists. In fact this hidden jewel in Polk County, North Carolina may have gone unnoticed by explorers and pioneers for over a hundred years. The earliest written accounts come from a time when the Asheville-Spartanburg railway was under construction.
Charles Pearson Discovers His Falls in Saluda NC
A pass was needed through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and in 1877 Charles W. Pearson was hired to scout the area. While exploring the valleys and mountains around Pace’s Gap, he stumbled onto the waterfall that would one day bear his name. After plotting the route of the new railroad, including what would come to be known as the Saluda Grade, Pearson bought a large tract of land that included the waterfall.
He lived the rest of his life in his mountain paradise, but he didn’t keep it all for himself. He and his family let others come onto their property and enjoy the scenery and even picnic at the base of the waterfall.
The Great Depression Brings Changes to Pearson’s Falls
Then in 1929 disaster struck. The entire nation was cast into economic ruin, and the Pearson family was no exception. By 1931, William Pearson’s son faced the fact that he would have to let go of his family land. He agreed to sell the woodland surrounding the waterfall to a timber company, but all was not lost, however. With the aid of generous donors, the Tryon Garden Club was able to buy the land and preserve it to this day.
Pearson’s Falls is Preserved for Generations to Come
While the 90 foot tall waterfall is the star attraction at Pearson’s Falls, it’s far from the only sight. You’ll also find over 200 native plants and trees of every description on this 275 acre park along Colt Creek. If you visit in spring expect a extraordinary display of color with a soundtrack of wild bird songs over a backdrop of the babbling creek. The entire area is classified as a deciduous climax forest, that is an old growth ecosystem made up of a stable plant community. The park is also used as an outdoor laboratory for the areas universities.
Visiting Pearson’s Falls
To reach the falls from the parking area, take a short ¼ mile trail along the banks of the creek. It’s an easy walk, but because it is an unpaved trail, it’s not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers. There are plenty of benches along the way where you can catch your breath or just take a minute and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
Standing nearly 90 feet tall, this cascading waterfall is fed by numerous natural springs that flow into Colt Creek. You’ll find many viewing locations along the creek, but be sure to stay along the path. Wading is strictly prohibited and downright dangerous. The boulders along the creek bed are known to be slippery and a favorite spot for copperheads sunning themselves along the creek. So stay on the path!
One nice thing about Pearson Falls is that it doesn’t take a whole day to visit. You could while away an entire day just sitting and decompressing from modern life, but most people drop by for an hour or two. If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, but still want to get out in nature, this is the spot for you.
It’s also a great place to bring the kids for a picnic to enjoy family time in nature. Picnic tables and shelters are on site, but just be sure to clean up after yourselves to preserve the natural beauty of the area.
Pearson’s Falls is a private nature reserve, so there is an admission charge. Adults will pay $5 to get in (kids 12 and under cost $1). Not a bad price when you think about it. Hours vary by season, and the park is closed the entire month of January as well as Christmas Day and Thanksgiving day. Other than that, the park is open 7 days a week barring maintenance or weather conditions. But it is a good idea to give them a call before heading out.
A Few Final Thoughts about Pearson’s Falls
A few other things you should know before your visit. The parking area is kind of small, so if you go during a busy time of day, you may have a wait to get it. There’s also a single small road leading into the park, so again traffic can get backed up.
Be sure to stay on the trails at all times, and remember that Person Falls is a wildflower sanctuary. The Tryon Garden Club works hard preserve it’s natural beauty and care for all the plants and flowers in the park. If you walk off the trail, chances are good that you’ll unintentionally trample over native or endangered plants. Not to mention it’s dangerous. Rocks can be slippery and copperheads have been known to make the creek bed their home. For the same reasons swimming and wading aren’t allowed.
Pearson’s Falls is a great place for people, but dogs aren’t allowed. So Fido will have to stay at home. If you visit during the spring, you may want to carry a jacket on the trail to the falls. You might not think you’ll need one when you get out of your car, but once you get to the falls the temperature will drop by a few degrees. Also on you’re way to the falls, be sure to a keep an eye out for bicyclists on Highway 176. And as always enjoy your visit.
Fast Facts about Pearson’s Falls
|Admission:||Adults (13 and up): $5.00; Kids Ages 6-12: $1.00; Kids Under 6: Free|
|Location:||2748 Pearson Falls Road Saluda NC 28773|
Things to do: Waterfall Viewing, Flower and Plant Spotting, Bird Watching, Picnicking