Taking the upper path to Upper Grassy Falls

Upper Grassy Falls - 3
A few weeks ago, I visited Dupont State Forest in North Carolina to find a obscure waterfall, Upper Grassy Falls, on Grassy Creek. My camera failed at Wintergreen Falls forcing me to settle for cell phone photos at Upper Grassy Falls. As I arrived, three other photographers arrived from the other direction. I reasoned they arrived from a different parking area, and now that I have a working camera again, I wanted go back and take better photos of Upper Grassy Falls.

This time I went to the parking area for Grassy Dam Trail on Sky Valley Road, about 0.8 mile beyond the Guion Farm Access Area after a few steep uphill turns. This is the parking area I think those other photographers came from.

The trail begins behind a gate at the parking area.  The parking area only has room for two or three cars, but I was the only there this day.
Grassy Dam Access Area - 1
Down this trail a short distance is an open field.
Open field - 1
An old Google Earth satellite view of this area from 1994 shows two structures, both gone.
The one on the right was a swimming pool, but is now buried. A photo from a geocache page Old and Abandoned Pool shows what the pool looked like in 2004:
That same page also notes the pool was filled with rocks. This 2005 Google Earth satellite still shows the pool, but the other structure, probably a house, is now gone:
This much more recent 2015 satellite view shows the swimming pool has been buried, but the pool's outline remains:

At the other end of the field, two trails head in different directions. I'm more interested in the waterfall, so I take the one heading to the right.
Path to Upper Grassy Creek Falls - 1
Fortunately for me, horses aren't permitted on this trail so I don't have to watch out for horse poo.
Path to Upper Grassy Creek Falls - 2
I also noticed the blackened dead tree, a sure sign of a fire sometime in the past. I spotted more evidence in other places. I wonder than happened?

The trail wasn't marked, but it was still easy enough to follow.
Path to Upper Grassy Creek Falls - 4
The trail soon began descending toward the creek. Here the area isn't yet thick with rhododendrons:
Path to Upper Grassy Creek Falls - 5
I spotted several short exit paths to the creek. I followed this path to one level below the top of the waterfall:
Upper Grassy Falls - 4
Then back to the trail and down to the sandy beach...
Upper Grassy Falls beach area - 1
... to take photos from a few different angles:
Upper Grassy Falls - 8 Upper Grassy Falls - 9 Upper Grassy Falls - 10
The air grew a bit colder, and the clouds began spitting flurries and at times snow showers.
I explored my way down to Wintergreen Falls, finding little along the way of interest. I did like how this photo of the creek just above Wintergreen Falls turned out though:
Near Wintergreen Falls - 1
I took a few photos of Wintergreen Falls, then made my way along the trail back to the open field. Earlier I wrote the trail wasn't marked, but on the way back though, I did spot one flag along the trail.
Trail marker
Also the sun came back out, but even then a few tiny flurries of snow were still drifting down.

When I reached the open field, this time I took the left trail. This trail was likely an old road judging by its width and grading.

I took this trail because I was curious about the word "dam" in Grassy Dam Trail. One topo map did show a small reservoir at this trail's end, but newer ones do not. Current satellite views don't show a reservoir either. I wondered if there any ruins.

I came to a place near the creek where the road narrows and splits into two paths. I followed the left fork, but found nothing resembling a dam. At the end of the right fork I found what's left of what appears to be a rusting metal dam:
Grassy Dam - 1
I made my way through the thicket for a better angle. I could have walked in the water, like I did during my last visit. This time, though, the air temperature is much colder so instead I slowly made my way through a thicket to get this photo:
Grassy Dam - 2
I had wanted to stop by another part of Dupont State Forest to find a stone foundation, but that would have to wait for another time.

I made an annotated map of a portion of my GPX recording. The Google Maps version has a satellite view of the area and a KML download option.
The uMap version does not have a satellite view, but does have a GPX download option.

I've uploaded my trip photos to an album on Flickr and an album on Google Photos.

Since my last visit, I've found out from an online management plan the waterfall is named Upper Grassy Falls, not Upper Grassy Creek Falls as I used in my previous post. I changed the name to match. I also found one more trip report, besides the report from my last post, from Rich Stevenson who visited the waterfall December 11, 2015.


  1. I wonder if DuPont conducts prescribed burns? It seems like the logical route to maintain that field as a wildlife opening, and what looks to be predominantly pine uplands would respond well to fire, resulting in that understory free of downed trees and the black trunks you saw. Pine forests are accustomed to fire, and most of the trees will survive (unless their canopy was scorched). Beautiful waterfall!

    1. That waterfall is a beauty. I tried searching for info about wildfires, not controlled burns. I just found this article about a controlled burn in that very area:
      Controlled burn: Thinning DuPont's forest
      Thanks for the hint.


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