Schoolhouse Falls is a lovely little falls with a tight series of small cascades falling 20 feet at the end into a large pool at the bottom. It is located in Nantahala National Forest in an area called Panthertown Valley, about a 45 minute drive from Eastatoe Falls. It was being logged in the 1920s and a schoolhouse was built near the falls for the loggers’ children. The Depression hit and the logger jobs disappeared. The schoolhouse was never used and is no longer there, but the falls got its name from it.
The Panthertown Valley was saved from development by the Nature Conservancy. It is a wilderness area with few trails. To get to places like this there is a book, North Carolina Waterfalls: Where to Find Them & How to Photograph Them by a local photographer, Kevin Adams. It has good directions and tips on how to photograph a particular waterfall. He is in the process of updating this book by revisiting all the falls, adding new waterfalls and new photos. It is supposed to be available the summer of 2016.
This is a fairly easy in and out hike of about 3 miles, which is a good thing when you are carrying camera equipment. There was still some ice around the falls from the storms of the previous weeks. The photo below shows galax (poached for the floral trade) growing in an ice flow.
The stream was high and we weren’t able to get over to the far side of the water that is supposed to be the best angle to photograph from. I enjoyed taking close-ups of the patterns in the flow of the water around the falls. We will have to return in warmer weather to check out the far side, but then we will have to dodge hikers swimming in the refreshing pool under the falls.