Shhh! Don’t tell a soul, but one of the most spectacular and accessible of all the waterfalls in WNC may not be on anyone’s Top 10 list. Yet Pearson’s Falls, a 268-acre wildflower wonderland near Saluda, sparkles with some 200 native Appalachian species of trees and shrubs, flowers and vines, ferns and mosses, algae and lichens—ranging in size from a quarter-inch high to 100 feet or more, with quite a few of them rare or imperiled.
Enjoy them all along a meandering quarter-mile trail that ends at a broad 90-foot waterfall. Two other falls grace the property, one of them a perpetually dripping gash in the earth with its own mossy microclimate. The sanctuary is a place to slow down and relax by looking and listening. A visit might include sightings of birds like the ruby-throated hummingbird, the blue heron, Louisiana waterthrush, black-throated green warbler, or the scarlet tanager. The early spring months of April and May are especially lush.
“Pearson’s Falls is one of the few places where northern wildflowers overlap with southern flowers because of latitude and the protection of the secluded glen,” says Carol Meeske, former president of the Tryon Garden Club, which owns the site. “My favorite thing about being there is the feeling of being at peace with the environment and myself.”
Turn a trip to Pearson’s Falls into a mini vacation with a night in the quaint enclave of Saluda, a historic railroad town located three miles north of the falls.
SHOP: Find antique plant stands and lawn furniture, container gardens, and a wealth of springtime gifts at The Gardener’s Cottage. [183 E. Main St.; (828) 749-4200; www.saluda.com/gardenerscottage] In the center of town, Heartwood
Gallery showcases local craft talent with an emphasis on Appalachian pottery and woodwork. [21 E. Main St.; (828) 749-9365; www.heartwoodsaluda.com]
EAT: Start your day at Wildflour Bakery, where in addition to picking up fresh artisan loaves such as walnut wheat or English cheddar, you can enjoy pastries and other breakfast favorites or choose from a light lunch menu of creative salads, sandwiches, and wraps. [173 E. Main St.; (828) 749-3356; www.wildflourbakerync.com] For dinner Thursday through Sunday, The Orchard Inn offers a fine dining experience with breathtaking views of the wooded mountainsides. [100 Orchard Inn Ln.; (828) 749-5471; orchardinn.com]
STAY: Check into the charming Charles Street Garden Suite, which has been featured on HGTV’s A Gardener’s Diary series. The intimate hideaway has lush landscaping and is conveniently located a block off of Main Street. [76 Charles St.; (828) 749-5846; www.charlesstreetgarden.com] Alternatively, Saluda Mountain Lodge sits at the edge of the Green River Gorge and offers the kind of rustic splendor that makes WNC famous for relaxation. [1783 Holbert Cove Rd.; (828) 749-4951; www.saludamountainlodge.com]