Located halfway between Charlotte, NC and Asheville, NC, McGalliard Falls Park in Valdese, North Carolina is a stop over you should take every time you are in the area. Whether for a view of the picturesque falls rolling off the edge, or a quick picnic with a view or just to stretch your legs for a short bit while enjoying the peacefulness and serenity of this beautiful area.
You can find the park by taking exit 112 off of Interstate 40 and going north to Main Street in Valdese, then heading west on Main Street for about 0.8 miles and turning right onto Church Street. From there you’ll go north for about 1.5 miles before turning right where you’ll find the Park. Bathroom facilities and picnic pavilions as well as several benches and a short path that leads to an overlook of the top of the McGalliard Falls can be found right by the ample parking lot.
We choose to come and visit this spot on an early June Sunday morning right before the end of the school year and before heading on a planed big trip to Europe. We were looking to spend a day with the littles without the usual hours of hiking that we do on weekends. We wanted to still get some exercise (but not too much), get the scenery we always long for, enjoy the delicious picnic we packed with us earlier in the morning and still have fun memories to look back at. While searching the internet for this “special spot” McGalliard Falls looked like the perfect choice and checked all the boxes!
We must’ve really scored the jackpot that day since for the entire time were here there was only one more couple that stopped by before heading on the trails around the park so we pretty much had the whole waterfall all to ourselves and got to fully and uninterruptedly explore it.
The short walk from the large parking lot down the dirt road path by the Old Grist Mill was exactly what we were looking for and the cool water in the deep pool at the base of the 40 foot waterfalls made for a great wading spot and gave easy access for mud making and sandcastle building.
As usual our kids set out on climbing the rocks by the waterfall as they always do and the nice ledge kind of curved in the middle of the falls made for a safe and fun exploration. Swimming is not permitted near and above the falls, but you can easily cool off by the edge of the water. There are walking trails around and above the falls, as well as Children’s playground, a Baseball diamonds, Volleyball net and shaded spots with benches where you can hide from the hot sun on warm summer days.
The Old Meytre Grist Mill, that we passed by on the way to the bottom of the Falls was build by Fred Meytre in 1906 and remained in operation until 1941. At this time Meytre become too old to operate the Mill without the help of younger and stronger man, which were difficult to obtain as most of them were called to serve the war. The main purpose of the Mill was to grind corn for corn meal, wheat for flour and operate a hammer mill for livestock feed production. The Mill was rebuild in 1982 when the park was constructed.
The Old Waterwheel that still stands by the Meytre’s Mill measures at approximately 2.5 feet in width and 16 feet in diameter and was replaced with a turbine after washing out in 1916 after only 10 years of use. The new turbine which powered the Mill was in use up until the Mill ceased operation in 1941.
You can get pretty close to both the Mill structure and the Waterwheel but please use caution as the ground surrounding them is slippery especially if you’ve gone in the water with your shoes and are attempting to explore while muddy.
The McGalliard Creek which is the first thing you see after starting your walk to the falls flows through the Park and descends down a rocky outcrop before streaming into the Catawba River at Lake Rhodhiss. The Park has been a huge addition to the town of Valdese, NC bringing families together for gatherings, events and celebrations under the shaded pavilions and by the picturesque waterfall scenery here.