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Attractions, Daytrips, Photograph This!, Regional History, Waterfalls

Swimming Holes- MCGALLIARD FALLS, Valdese

Picnic area? Check.
Walking trail? Check.
Waterfall? Check.
Swimming hole? Check.
Antique grist mill? Check.
Volleyball and tennis courts? Check.

Yes, you can have it all! About an hour south of Blowing Rock is a perfect summer’s afternoon just waiting to be spent.

Bring a picnic lunch and a blanket and enjoy lunch under the trees, or eat at one of the many tables. Let the kids run off some energy in a ball game or around the park’s walking trails. Hot sunny day? Let the bigger kids wade out into the deep pool at the base of the 40′ waterfalls!

McGalliard Falls

The park also features a resorted waterwheel and  grist mill. Meytre Mill was originally built in 1906 to serve the Waldensian community populating the area by grinding up their corn and wheat, but a large flood in 1916 obliterated the water wheel. The mill changed to turbine power, similar to Mingus Mill near Cherokee, NC, and was closed in the early 1940’s as the original owner aged and could not operate it alone without younger men’s help, as the community’s young men were fighting WWII. The mill was recreated in 1982 when the Park was created. The FDA has not approved any of the mill’s output as fit for human consumption. The times I’ve been, the mill was not operating, but it’s still a beautiful sight beside the waterfall.

Classic Waldensian grist mill


Meytre Mill against McGalliard Falls

The times I’ve been in summer, there were people of all ages, probably 5 and up, jumping from the middle of the falls into the deep pool below. I can’t swim, so I choose not to jump, instead paddling around in the pool. I didn’t feel a strong current, but smaller people will need to be alert. Also, be aware that because this pool is at a far lower elevation than the Boone area (about 1150′ above sea level as compared to about 3600′) there is the danger of poisonous snakes. They usually hang out under rocks, and naturally there’s rocks in the creek and in the swimming hole, so watch those toes.

Also, each June the town of Valdese stocks the creek above the falls with trout, and hosts a trout derby for kids.

McGalliard Falls Park is the perfect place for the entire family to enjoy a day of summer fun!

Where Is It?
Take Highway 321 South from Blowing Rock. Take it all the way down the mountain through Lenoir, and go through Lenoir (about 30 miles).
As you keep on 321S, you’ll see the large green signs for “Southwest Boulevard” to Morganton to the right- take this exit.
Go about 1.75 miles and turn left (third left, first stoplight) onto Connelly Springs Road.
Stay on Connelly Springs Rd for 7.2 miles, crossing Lake Rhodhiss. Watch your speed- the NCHP love to hang out down there.
Just past a Mexican restaurant in an old white building, turn right onto Lovelady Road.
Take Lovelady all the way to the end, where it T-intersections into Laurel Street (about 1.9 miles).
Turn right onto Laurel street, and in just 400 feet turn left onto Meytre Avenue NE.
You can get into the park two ways from Meytre Ave: stay straight into the parking lot, or take Meytre to the T-intersection with Falls Road and turn right, and the park entrance sign is immediately visible on the right.
Click on map screenshot to enlarge

Standard, common-sense claimers here: Don’t climb on the waterwheel (there are signs prohibiting that as well) as it’s pretty old and rusty at this point. Don’t dive headfirst into the water. Don’t run on the slick rocks above the waterfall. Don’t let kids play in the water unattended. Refer to the additional disclaimers for more details.

All text and photos copyright 2011 Cassandra Hartley, Blue Ridge NC Guide. No portion of this article is to be copied, saved, or otherwise distributed without express written consent. Sharing is encouraged using the designated social media sharing buttons at the bottom of this article. Photos for this post provided by our sister site Photos by Cassandra Lea. Author received no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this article.


About Cassandra Lea

Native of Blowing Rock, NC; married to a fellow High Country native; lover of the outdoors, history, and local shopping & dining; and proud advocate of everything this area has to offer!


4 thoughts on “Swimming Holes- MCGALLIARD FALLS, Valdese

  1. Very cool. I’ve never heard of this place. Can’t wait to check it out.


    Posted by Mandi McClure | July 16, 2011, 9:44 am
  2. Area is now posted no swimming.


    Posted by Matt | August 2, 2015, 7:38 pm

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All text and photos belong exclusively to Blue Ridge NC Guide, copyright January 2011 to present. No portions of the text and no photos may be copied without express written consent. Sharing is encouraged using the Share Buttons at the bottom of each article.
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