Potato River Falls – Upper Trail (2021)

Today marks the 1 week point of the trip. Weather was hot for the season with highs reaching into the 80’s and rain was imminent. I woke late because my alarm didn’t work or I just slept through it from being tired. Since I lost some time in the early morning, I decided to focus all my energy on Potato River Falls to see if I could find some areas that I previously missed. Starting off with the upper trail I found the familiar staircase leading down to the river.

Here’s the view today from a viewing platform at the bottom of the staircase. Many people opt to stop here but you can climb further down the cliff which of course is where I’m going next.

Here’s the uppermost visible falls from the platform zoomed in courtesy of the camera lens. For some of these drops, a camera is the easiest way to reach them. Others are what I’d call difficult, and some are downright impossible…or are they?

Not shown in this photo: Me nearly tumbling all the way down the cliff. What is shown here: Some of the falls found in a long series at this stage of the river. I don’t have an exact count, but I’d say there are at least 5 or 6 distinct drops over the course of maybe 1/4 mile. This one in particular is right down below the stairs/viewpoint making it the easiest to reach.

View of the small outflow just to the right of the above falls. Big or small, all falls and rapids are beautiful. I just enjoy being in nature regardless.

Some more unique falls just a short distance downstream. It was at this point I realized my water shoes were back in the truck and I was really kicking myself for that. Wading into the water was out of the question for now.

View looking down over the main falls that drop off very sharply. Best views of the main falls are from the lower trail which I did later in the day and will share in some of the next posts. Foliage colors were at peak and couldn’t be better.

Across the river I spied a small sidestream trickling down into the river. I’ve never been on that shore and wanted to check it out but no water shoes eliminated that on this trip. Oh darn, looks like I’ll have to come back again another time…

Rain showers hit right on cue when I had climbed down a series of rocks with sheared faces that became incredibly slippery like ice. I took a small break under some trees and let them pass.

Here’s a view of the clouds – not very menacing, but clear signs of the rain showers.

Once the sprinkles had ended I went back up the cliffs and decided to explore further down the trail instead. One last look from the platform and the view is still fantastic. Just sharing this because I had another person in the shot to give some perspective for sizes of all the rocks and falls.

Long Exposure

I only played with long exposure for a few minutes today but I think this one came out great. It was a mostly overcast day with some haze at times – not the best conditions for long exposure. But it was pretty great for the drone.

Drone Photography

I did end up burning through four drone batteries today mostly taking videos so that was very productive. Since I didn’t take many photos, all of the following are screenshots from video and processed in Adobe Lightroom to recovery the details. I still think they turned out quite crisp. Anyways here is what the main falls aka Potato River Falls looks like from the sky (though this was taken when I launched from the lower trail, I feel it fits better on this post).

Here are some photos of the individual falls making up the entire Potato River Falls Upper sequence/section. It was very challenging to keep line-of-sight to the drone so I had to hike & launch from multiple different spots. Still totally worth it, these are views not many visitors will ever get to see. This is the first “upper” falls above the main Potato River Falls large drop.

Continuing upstream, here is what I’d call the most substantial vertical drops which of course are the same that I saw from the stairs/viewing platform area. You can see a bit more how these falls shape around the rocks which isn’t fully visible from the ground.

And finally here’s a view just upstream and with a bit more elevation to show the final drops. This concludes with a 10-foot drop that look like twin cascades. Interestingly, there was a large group of people near that area and I’m not sure how they made it all the way down to the water – it’s quite tricky to get there! This isn’t the last time I would come across that group either – you’ll see them again in my posts a couple days from now in a completely different location.

And one final look from high above the falls looking back downstream. Fall colors are incredible here, I couldn’t really ask for much more. Finally I nailed the timing of the peak!

Stay tuned for the next post to see a 17-minute video encapsulating the entire upper trail and the hiking data/path. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

Lat = 46.4618301 , Long = -90.530365 -- Show at Google Maps

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