Over Memorial Day weekend, Pamela and went hiking at Beale Falls, a little spot we read about here.
Since were were coming from the south, we decided to try taking a different route than the one described on the site. Instead of curving clockwise around Beale Air Force Base, we tried to take the local roads by a route suggested by Google Maps.
On the plus side, Google’s directions actually worked. However, they took us down several dirt roads, along which we kept wondering, “where the #$! are we?” Since neither of us had the foresight to print out maps or look up directions on my GPS-enabled phone in advance, we couldn’t tell whether we were on the right track. At one intersection, we took a wrong turn because the road signs were confusing — Google’s directions instructed us to “continue” down the same road, but the road sign seemed to imply that in order to stay on the same road, we should turn right. We turned right. We should have continued straight. After wandering around lost for 20 minutes, we found a small spot with cell data reception (and a cow wandering across the road), looked up directions from my phone and got ourselves back on track.
Eventually, we made it to the “parking lot” for the hiking trail, which was really just flat dirt area off the side of the road. If we had been the only ones there, it wouldn’t have looked like a parking lot at all. That weekend, there were about 10 other cards there, which made it a bit easier to find.
The hike itself was gorgeous. It took us approximately 1:15 each way. On the way to the falls, we took a path that branched off of the main trail and followed the river closely on the recommendation of a couple passing us in the other direction. This path crossed small streams, wandered through vegetation, up rocks, and by smaller waterfalls. On the way back, we took the main trail, which wound its way through meadows, and had a great view of the surrounding territory. I’d definitely recomend the side path if you don’t mind rough terrain — it’s much more varied and interesting than the main trail. It also has a lot more shade.
The falls themselves consisted of a 50 foot drop into a large pool of water with steep cliff walls on both sides. A well-worn but steep path will take you to the base of the falls, and another to the top and beyond. There were small groups of people, probably 8-12 in total, sunning on the rocks and swimming in the pool beneath the waterfall. This is probably a larger crowd than usual, since we went on Memorial Day weekend. Unlike most waterfalls we’d been to in the past, you can easily get to both the top of the waterfall and the pool beneath it. It’s certainly not safe, by any means, but it’s also not absurdly dangerous.
For next time, whenever that is:
- Bring a bathing suit. After the long, hot hike, the water looked so inviting.
- Wear shorts. We were afraid that there might be a lot of mosquitos by the water, but we didn’t run into anything but some red ants and a rattlesnack. Heh. Just kidding about the rattlesnake. The area looked like it should have poison oak as well, but we didn’t run into any on the trail.
- Bring insulated drink containers. Water bottles with lukewarm water just aren’t that refreshing.
As we were hiking, I noted our location at various points along the route using the Location Log application for Android. I’ve since decided that My Tracks is a much better application, but Location Log worked well enough — its main drawback is that there’s no way to export your map markers, so I had to copy GPS coordinates from the phone by hand. Here’s the map I made of our hike. Perhaps you’ll find it useful.
[ Addendum: I just found that spenceville.org has some great descriptions and maps of the hiking trails in this area. Also, this waterfall is also called Fairy Falls, Shingle Falls, and Dry Creek Falls. ]