Fourth Thru First Falls – The WILDS, NC

The WILDS is a Christian Camp and Conference Center, located in south Brevard. Established in 1969 (and now celebrating their 50th year), they deliver top notch adventures to their campers with their impressive property and facilities. The property straddles the Gorges State Park boundaries and has “funtastic” activities such as hiking, climbing, tubing, swimming, and even a zip line across the massive gorge that is Third Falls!

Toxaway Creek also passes through their property and over four significant drops before joining the Toxaway River inside Gorges State Park, and then finally emptying into Lake Jocassee’s northeast finger. The waterfalls, uniformly named First, Second, Third, and Fourth Falls, have been spoken of as some of the finest set of waterfalls in all of WNC.

Each of them carry their own secondary, yet established, nickname – like Fourth Falls being more commonly referred to as Great Falls. And let me tell you, the waterfall certainly does not fail to live up to that moniker!

Once I learned of all this, I tried several times to gain special permission to visit the falls. After several failed attempts, my friend Karen reached out to me saying she could get us permission due to her longstanding relationship with the camp (more than a decade’s worth!). She is a lovely lady who is also quite the photographer and visits some amazing places. You should check out her work on Instagram here!

Fourth, aka Great Falls, from a different angle.
Available for purchase here.

Joining us was my good adventure friend Eliza, who Karen graciously also got permission for. The weather was ideal on our visit, mostly cloudy skies and mild temperatures! I took my time at each fall, photographing it extensively. Due to the private property, there will be no track or directions posted to these falls. But, please, enjoy my gallery of photos in reverse order of the waterfalls (but the order we hiked them)!

Fourth Falls (Great Falls)

Panoramic of Fourth, aka Great, Falls.

More commonly known as Great Falls, this was the main event. The creek splits over many rocks as it plummets more than 100-ft into a plunge pool at the bottom of the gorge. The power was evident from the persistent spray coming off the falls – making it a bit of a challenge to photograph! (Also evident in most of the photos, haha.)

Great Falls, downstream.
Sun flare on the isolation shot.
Great Falls.
Handstand at Great Falls.
Eliza overlooking Great Falls
River left cliffs at Great Falls.
Black and white of Great Falls.
Black and white of Great Falls, on river left cliffs.
Panoramic of Great Falls

Third Falls (Lunar Falls)

Panoramic of Third, aka Lunar, Falls.

Next up was Third Falls, or commonly known as Lunar Falls. Even though I said Great Falls was the main event, I think Lunar Falls is my favorite of the four. This 60-ft drop falls into a massive gorge with one of the most jagged, sheer 100-ft cliffs I have seen in that area! One of The WILDS most attractive features is the zip-line that crosses over the gorge that Lunar Falls empties into! There is also a very impressive, two-story observation deck that provides rises high on river left, providing a stunning view of the entire gorge!

The creek splits at the crest of the waterfall, creating a two prong style drop – but with heavy spray coming from both sides, a vibrant spray community covers the entire middle section! The rocks at the bottom are cut in an intersecting fashion, while dropping over a series of step-like drops for another 40-ft. I could go on, but I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Lunar Falls, from the observation deck.
Lunar Falls.
Bottom step-like drops of Lunar Falls.
Eliza at the observation deck above Lunar Falls.
Lunar Falls.
Black and white panoramic of Lunar Falls.
Panoramic of Lunar Falls.

Second Falls (Boushell Falls)

Second, aka Boushell, Falls.

Second Falls, or known as Boushell Falls, is another stunner! This waterfall lies in a polar opposite setting of Lunar and Great Falls. Whereas they are massive and rocky, surrounded by high rise cliffs inside a deep gorge, Boushell Falls is wide open and relatively flat surrounding it, with deep swimming holes. There is a huge observation area built on river right that can easily have two dozen people seated.

The 25-ft drop is intricate and has a huge flat section before making another two step style cascade drop just below. Not only was this waterfall particularly tempting to swim in, it also was particularly interesting to photograph. I was able to play around with some fun forced perspective compositions between the main drop and the small cascades downstream.

Boushell Falls, forced perspective.
Boushell Falls, lessening the forced perspective.
Boushell Falls, with the small cascades downstream.
Panoramic of Boushell Falls and the rocks river left.
Boushell Falls.
Panoramic of Boushell Falls

First Falls (Taper Falls)

First, aka Taper, Falls.
Available for purchase here.

Last up was First Falls, or also known as Taper Falls. The setting here is flat and calm like Boushell Falls. The rock wall that the falls come over seemingly appears from nowhere, sticking up out of the creek like a sore thumb. On the river right side of the waterfall, there is a rappelling hook anchored at the top of the rock wall. They really know how to show the campers here a good time!

Profile view of Taper Falls.
View from the top of Taper Falls.
Panoramic of Taper Falls.
Cascade above and the view from Taper Falls.

These are some of the most impressive and photogenically beautiful waterfalls I have visited. I am beyond thankful to have had the opportunity to experience them. Thank you and huge shout out to Karen once again for making this happen for me!!

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