Our rating system tries to take as much of the opinion out of the equation as possible and is based on the three major components that make a waterfall great (or not great): height, size of waterway, and scenic quality. The "Volume Rating" is the size of the creek, based on the average volume of the waterway. The "small/medium" section is generally for creeks that have a large range in volume and can vary significantly at various times of the year. The "Height Rating" is based entirely on a waterfall's overall height. Some waterfalls may be given a score somewhere between these. For example, a waterfall that is 125' tall falls between two ranges so the score will probably be adjusted to 5.5. These two numbers are multiplied together to give the overall magnitude of the waterfall. The third portion of the score is the "Scenic Rating" and it is certainly subjective to some degree, judging a waterfall's beauty, how well you can view a waterfall, special qualities, etc. The tables below break down how each number is arrived at. The formula then is (VR)(HR)+SQ = SCORE

Volume Rating

Large River 10

Small River/Big Creek 8

Medium Creek 6

Small/Medium Creek 4

Small Creek 2

Tiny Stream 1

  • Seasonal streams receive a 10% deduction in their Volume Rating

Height Rating

1000'+ 11

700-1000' tall 10

500-700' 9

350-500' 8

200-350' 7

125-200' 6

80-125' 5

50-80' 4

25-50' 2

0-25' 1

Scenic Rating

The scenic quality is by far the most subjective portion of a waterfall's rating, but I've done my best to remove opinion from the equation. Each waterfall is given a rating from 0-20 based on a number of factors. This is mostly based on how well you can see the waterfall, how close you can get to it, how pretty the area around the waterfall is, etc. An "average" waterfall is given a 10. A perfect 20 would be a waterfall that can be closely approached, the view is free from obstruction, the waterfall and the area around it is exceptionally pretty with little to no debris around, and the entire waterfall can be seen from the viewing area. An example of a perfect 20 would be Wells Creek Falls. A waterfall that is viewed from a long distance away will almost always get a Scenic Quality rating of 4 or less. In addition to the above, this section of a waterfall's score can receive a couple "bonus points" for especially interesting features. Examples include:

- Walking behind Anderson Falls

- Falls Creek Falls unique drop through the middle of the cliff

- The mine near St. Louis Falls