About Lower Cataract Falls
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.
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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