Misty and Mashbox Falls: There and Back Again
March 17, 2015I've been having bad luck with vacations lately. My February vacation featured cold, sleet, and snow so I stayed home. The forecast for my March vacation was for rain and more rain except for one of those days, March 11.
I've been to Misty Falls and Mashbox Falls before, back in 2012, but I wanted to see them again since I've been already been touring other nearby obscure waterfalls. On March 11, I brought everything I needed to take photos of Misty Falls and Mashbox Falls, except a camera battery I didn't realize was missing until it was way too late. Oops.
Moving forward to March 17, I decided to try again with the information I gained from my first failed trip.
Misty Falls and Mashbox Falls are two waterfalls off Pinnacle Pass Trail near Caesars Head. I visited them a few years ago.
I parked in a small parking area off a gravel path that once was Oil Camp Creek Road located at one off a sharp bend in the road. Just beyond this parking area is a gate the prevents vehicles from passing through.
Follow the gravel path beyond the gate as it becomes Pinnacle Path Trail with a white blaze. During both trips, I experimented with different paths to both waterfalls to find a balance between distance and ease of travel.
I found three paths to access the waterfalls shown on this map below:
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The shortest path is the one in red beginning where the gravel path turns to the right. Misty Falls can be heard from here. The red path follows a ridge down to an old logging road. I don't recommend this path because it's steep, exhausting, and dangerous if you're not careful. A similar approach involves following the tributary on the north side, but that one ends up being even steeper, more exhausting, and more dangerous. If you do go this way, bring plenty of water because I found the experience made me quite thirsty. Fortunately, I remembered to bring plenty of water both times.
The longest path involves following Pinnacle Pass Trail to the intersection of a path leading to an old logging road. This intersection is the green marker on the map above.
For the trip on the 17th, I chose a way in between the two that is nowhere near as steep as the first path, and is much shorter than following Pinnacle Pass Trail for so long. This way is drawn in green on the map. This bushwack starts at what I'll call the 'carpet waypoint', a piece of carpet left by the side of the trail for whatever reason.
All three ways meet up with a path, well marked with orange tape, that mostly follows an old logging road that heads in the direction of the two waterfalls.
On this trip, I skipped Misty Falls and visited Mashbox Falls first. I could see a layer of smoke hanging in the air near the ridge tops drifting in from the east, and could smell it somewhat down in the valley.
From here, the path mostly follows the logging road, and the logging road mostly parallels Oil Camp Creek.
On Oil Camp Creek, I came across this nice cascade:
I also came across the mashbox and the rusty barrel that gives Mashbox Falls its name. They were used in the production of illegal alcoholic intoxicants, otherwise known as moonshine.
I followed the orange markers over the creek and began to ascend up toward the waterfall. The smell of smoke became stronger the higher I went. I wanted to get a shot from a high spot relatively clear of trees, but the smell was too strong for me to take. I settled for this tree obstructed view of this beauty:
I backtracked down the path toward Misty Falls. Misty Falls is off a tributary of Oil Camp Creek not far from Mashbox Falls, separated from each other by a ridge. Misty Falls is best approached from the east side of the creek, on a path on the map I've colored blue. The smoke smell was still present, but wasn't strong enough to be objectionable.
The trees partially block this beautiful waterfall.
I never did figure out the source of the smoke, or why it drifted over one valley and not the other.
When I headed back out, I had to listen for cars coming around the blind curve. In the future, I'll just park at the nearby parking area right off the highway and walk the short distance.
As usual, I uploaded my trip photos to an album on Flickr and an album on Google Photos.