Discussions about favorite waterfalls are always interesting. What is it that attracts to you a particular cascade while someone who has visited the same waterfall misses that aspect completely?
As puzzling as these things are, there is actually a simple explanation. But it is probably not realized until you sit through a presentation of waterfalls that you’ve previously visited. You suddenly find yourself shocked at how poorly one of your favorites is depicted in a photograph or a slide pops up of one and you don’t even recognize it.
So what is it? It’s water flow. Unless you see the waterfall at both high and low water flows, you really can’t get a feel of how drastic the looks of the falls change.
A couple of examples may help.
Brasstown Falls is 3 falls in one, a cascade, a veil and a sluice. At high water, the cascades thunder, the veil throws so much mist it is hard to take a photo and the sluice gushes down to the base pool. The veil is almost a block reaching all the way across the river in high water times. Then at low water, the veil is not even there, it becomes 4 or 5 segments resembling Virginia Hawkins Falls. From extraordinary to not-very-impressive.
And speaking of Virginia Hawkins Falls, it is rated Spectacular and truly is with good water flow as seen in the photo accompanying this article. Then you’ll have 5, even 6 segments spaced across the rock face, making a most attractive waterfall. Lower the water volume, as seen in this link, and some of the segments dry up leaving you with 3 or even 2. If you’re there then, you wonder about the Spectacular rating.
Point here is that whenever you’d at a waterfall, regardless of the water flow, take some time to imagine the falls during other levels of flow. It will help you understand the differences in ranking you’ll see in guides and will explain some of your fellow hikers picks for their favorite waterfalls.