From the junction of NC 281 and US 64 west of Lake Toxaway, drive 4.95 miles south on NC 281 and park on the right at the gate. This is a few hundred feet north of the trailhead for Johns Jump Falls.
Follow the old road beyond the gate through an old campsite and begin ascending an old road. About 125 feet from the campsite, a side path turns left. Look for a unique Y-shaped tree a few feet in on the side path. The path leads less than 100 yards to the falls.
DEW Falls is not big, but it’s in a scenic setting and is easy to reach. It’s definitely worth the 30-minute detour from the bigger falls in the area. Students from Hammond School in Columbia, South Carolina, built the trail to DEW Falls as a senior class project. The Forest Service allowed the school to name the falls. When Chris Angel, the school’s headmaster, asked the students to choose the name, they decided it should honor one of their classmates. Dorothy Ehlrich Walker died in a car accident on July 22, 2003, the summer before her senior year.
Until now, DEW Falls has usually been written as D.E.W. Falls. I’ve also seen it referred to as Dorothy Falls. Mr. Angel told me he prefers DEW Falls.
The small, somewhat open area at the trailhead just beyond the gate used to be a nice campsite, complete with tent pad and picnic table. I camped there many nights while working on the second edition of North Carolina Waterfalls. Unfortunately, as is too often the case across the mountains, boneheads repeatedly vandalized the site, forcing the Forest Service to gate it permanently.
Mill Creek is the Thompson River’s largest tributary. It’s odd that it isn’t named on the USGS topo map. It’s not a big creek, but it’s bigger than many other streams that are named. I have a copy of an old deed map that calls it Gumbottom Creek. I’ve also heard locals use that name. Although I haven’t seen Mill Creek on any maps, it’s the name most often used.