Autumn came late to the Cumberland Mountains along the border of Kentucky and Virginia. There was not a better way to spend it than by traversing the backroads along Cumberland and Pine Mountains and visiting Pine Mountain State Resort Park, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Kingdom Come State Park, and the Little Shepherd Trail.
Typically, hot and dry summer months result in diminishing streamflows throughout Appalachia, making decent waterfall photography only possible after heavy rains. But this has been one exceptional year as parts of Appalachia have received nearly six inches more rain over normal for the prior three months, and bounties have abounded in central West Virginia.
Earlier in the spring, while visiting nearby cascades along Flatwoods Run, I came upon the historic Fidler's Mill in the unincorporated community of Arlington, West Virginia. Scrambling down onto large boulders, the gray clapboard, and board-and-batten-sided mill bracketed a wide 10-foot-high cascade along the Little Kanawha River.
I had long passed by Pipestem Falls alongside WV Route 20 near Hinton, West Virginia, but never bothered to stop as the waterfalls were barely visible from the overlook. That has changed in recent years with the clearing of brush and trees along Pipestem Creek, opening up views of the reclusive cascades, although the best views of Lower Pipestem Falls require a scramble down rocks from makeshift paths at the overlook.