Thursday, May 03, 2007

Pisgah National Forest Hiking death from fall

If only a 21 year old from Alabama who was hiking with a friend in the North Carolina Pisgah National Forest read the Your Smokies News last month where we warned hikers of the danger of hiking off hiking trials especially near waterfalls.

While trying to navigate a stream crossing above the Moore Cove Falls area just north of Looking Glass Falls he fell 50 feet to his death. He was not on a designated path or stream crossing but decided with his friend to blaze his own trail in the forest in order to get to the top of the falls.

Even though there are more than 250 waterfalls in North Carolinas Transylvania County known as the Land of Waterfalls, this is the first hiking fatality. Emergency workers in Transylvania County respond to at least 5 waterfall accidents a year even though visitors are warned to stay away from the danger zones.

Wet Rocks at Big Bradley Falls near Saluda in Polk County spelled disaster last June when a hiker fell 100 feet to his death. Waterfall related fatalities here are historically an annual occurrence.

In the Great Smoky Mountains national park there have been plenty of hiking deaths as a result of accidents around waterfalls. The 2 most dangerous waterfalls that come to mind are Laurel Falls and the Ramsey Cascades falls.

Laurel falls in easily assessable via a paved hiking path on a relatively short hike so it is extremely popular - especially with parents of younger children since many can hike to the falls without being carried. Unfortunately with slipper rocks and a steep drop off at the bottom of the falls, there have been numerous deaths.

The Ramsey Cascades falls with its trailhead located in the Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is far more strenuous with a rougher trail, higher elevations and being an 8 mile round trip hike. You are very isolated when you get to the falls making getting help and well as any subsequent rescue far more tedious and time consuming. Sadly many deaths have occurred at Ramsey Cascades falls which is one of the nicest waterfalls in the Smokies.

Hike with caution, don't blaze new trails and don't forget moss and ice covered rocks can be far more slippery than you may expect. We want you to be able to come back to the Great Smoky Mountains national park and the surrounding forests time and time again so please be careful.

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