Lower Cataract Falls

near Indianapolis / Cloverdale / Owen County, Indiana, USA

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 1.5
Lower Cataract Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Lower Cataract Falls was the other of two waterfalls on Mill Creek in the Cataract Falls State Recreation Area. In a way, this 18ft waterfall almost looked like a twin of the Upper Falls, but the one key characteristic that we noticed that was different was that the Lower Falls seemed to exhibit a more classic concave shape (more typical of horseshoe-shaped waterfalls under high volume) while the Upper Falls kind of fanned out in two different directions in a more convex shape. Nonetheless, they were both similar in size and width, and it was quite easy to get the two waterfalls confused just by looking at pictures.

I decided to dedicate a separate write-up to this waterfall (instead of combining it with the Upper Falls) mostly because we had to drive to conveniently access the falls (see directions below). It didn't seem that trivial to walk from one waterfall to the next given how far apart they were spaced on Mill Creek though that's not to say that you couldn't do it since they were roughly 0.8 miles apart.

In any case, we were able to get top down views of this waterfall from the edges of the small gorge walls. And since there were no railings for this waterfall, we were even able to follow the trails of use all the way to the precarious brink of the falls, where we saw one fellow try his hand as fishing from the brink of the falls (despite the signs prohibiting fishing and swimming).

As for getting down to the gorge for a more frontal view of the falls, it was considerably easier to do than the Upper Falls. Basically, there was a small muddy path to the left of the viewing area where there were trees and bushes. The path seemed pretty obvious. Once I got to the bottom, it was pretty straightforward to scramble further out to where I was able to get a direct view of the Lower Cataract Falls. Since Mill Creek had pretty low flow during our visit, this scramble was very straightforward. However, given how muddy it could have been at the bottom (the mud was mostly dry during our visit), I could easily envision how much trickier this would be when the creek would have higher flow typically in the late Spring and early Summer months. Overall, we spent about 25 minutes at this very easy-to-visit waterfall.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Cataract Falls was about an hour's drive west of the city of Indianapolis. They had an attractive War Memorial area that reminded us of a smaller version of Washington DC's National Mall Cataract Falls was about an hour's drive west of the city of Indianapolis. They had an attractive War Memorial area that reminded us of a smaller version of Washington DC's National Mall
Indianapolis had an attractive downtown area that seemed to blend in some historical charm with the taller downtown buildings Indianapolis had an attractive downtown area that seemed to blend in some historical charm with the taller downtown buildings
The car park for the Lower Cataract FallsThe car park for the Lower Cataract Falls

Looking towards a picnic shelter near the car parkLooking towards a picnic shelter near the car park

Our first look at the Lower Cataract Falls along the short gorge wallsOur first look at the Lower Cataract Falls along the short gorge walls

Another look at the Lower Cataract Falls from the convenient viewing spots near the partial fences fronting the edges of the gorge wallsAnother look at the falls from the convenient viewing spots near the partial fences fronting the edges of the gorge walls

Broad view of the Lower Cataract Falls, the trail getting closer to its brink, and its surrounding limestone gorge wallsBroad view of the Lower Falls, the trail getting closer to its brink, and its surrounding limestone gorge walls

This was the scrambling path leading down to the bottom of the short gorgeThis was the scrambling path leading down to the bottom of the short gorge

Contextual view from within the gorge back upstream towards the Lower Cataract FallsContextual view from within the gorge back upstream towards the Lower Falls

Broad view across the span of the Lower Cataract Falls from across its plunge poolBroad view across the span of the Lower Falls from across its plunge pool

When I made it back up to the rim of the gorge, I noticed other people showed up to enjoy the fallsWhen I made it back up to the rim of the gorge, I noticed other people showed up to enjoy the falls

Looking back from the brink of Lower Cataract Falls towards the context of the general viewing area. Note the folks to the far right side of the photo.  They were the dudes that were fishing in Mill CreekLooking back from the brink of Lower Cataract Falls towards the context of the general viewing area. Note the folks to the far right side of the photo. They were the dudes that were fishing in Mill Creek


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Movie showing the lower falls from the upper lookout area before finding a way to the bottom to show the falls from near the banks of the river


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Lower Cataract Falls shared the same reserve as that of the Upper Cataract Falls. For driving directions on reaching the Cataract Falls State Recreation Area, see the directions on the Upper Cataract Falls page.

Once we went beyond the entrance kiosk where there was a $9 non-resident fee during our visit, we then turned left at the signposted fork and drove for the next 0.8 miles to the car park at the dead-end.

For geographical context, Indianapolis, Indiana, was 112 miles (2 hours drive) northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, 176 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) west of Columbus, Ohio, 185 miles (under 3 hours drive) southeast of Chicago, Illinois, 113 miles (2 hours drive) north of Louisville, Kentucky, and 260 miles (under 4 hours drive) east of St Louis, Missouri.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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