You really have to want this one! The eastern slopes between Balsam Cone and Cattail Peak along the crest of the Black Mountains are about as steep as it gets without being bare rock. A lot of it is bare rock. Hundreds of feet above the falls, water seeps through the lush moss creating a perpetually wet environment. Rivulets begin forming under the moss and a few hundred lower, definable branches on the surface begin to form. These branches run all over the place, eventually combining into obvious streambeds. The two major streambeds come together at Galvladi Falls, 5,400 feet above sea level.
Most of the time, the waterfall’s description is much more dramatic than the view. At this elevation on such steep slopes, the streams have very little water. They may be nearly dry in summer and fall. If all you want to see is a big wet rock, there are better opportunities much more easily accessible. But for brief periods after heavy rain, Galvladi Falls is quite a sight. Unfortunately, the conditions for good photos were so horrible at my visit that I didn’t bother taking the camera out of the pack.
Galvladi Falls ranks among the highest-elevation waterfalls in the state. It’s impossible to determine precisely where the waterfall officially begins. I suppose one could argue that it starts only a few hundred feet down from the ridgeline, around 6,200 feet, if you take water flow out of the equation. The terrain is certainly steep enough to qualify. I take a much more conservative approach when defining waterfalls and guess it starts around 5,800 feet. Below 5,400 feet, where the two streams meet, the waterfall continues for a few hundred feet.
The high elevation gives Galvladi Falls its name. The word translates to “high” in the Cherokee language. As best as I can tell, it is pronounced “ga-LOO-la-dee.”
From the confluence, you can look east to see Table Rock and Hawksbill mountains punctuating the skyline. In times of high flow, I suspect you could see a portion of the waterfall from the Blue Ridge Parkway, but in normal flow there isn’t enough white water to make it visible.
If you wish to see Galvladi Falls, read the Middle Creek introduction page and the hiking descriptions for any of the nearby waterfalls below.