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Headwaters Forest Waterfalls

posted Aug 29, 2017, 4:41 PM by Justin P   [ updated Sep 11, 2017, 3:45 PM ]

Saturday morning, we woke up and had breakfast and then left camp.  We drove west on US-64 to Rosman and then south on US-178.  Just past town, we turned on East Fork Road and headed into the future Headwaters State Forest.  The NC Forest Service plans to open the newest forest in 2018 or 2019.  But we couldn't wait that long.  Our first stop was a quick one.  We pulled off along the road at East Fork Falls.  It was just a very short ways down to the creek for a very scenic waterfall.

I scrambled around a bit on the rocks to get pictures from different angles.  And the view from the top was great as well.

Then we continued down East Fork Road, turning right on the barely-a-road Busted Rock Road and parked near where the road crossed Big Branch.  We picked up an old road that followed East Fork French Broad River upstream to its headwaters.  In less than a mile, the road ended and we followed a path a short ways towards the waterfall.  I first stopped at some nice cascades below the waterfall, but I knew this wasn't right.

Just a little further was the spectacular Reece Place Falls.  This waterfall is a real beauty.  The lighting wasn't great, but we really enjoyed our time here.

After a snack and enjoying the waterfall a bit, we headed back.  There was a lot of thistle blooming along the trail here.

Beautiful to look at, but don't want to brush up against it.  Driving back on East Fork Road, we turned on Glady Fork Road and parked at the trailhead for Graveley Falls.  The trail is another old road and was a really pleasant hike.  In less than a mile, we could see Graveley Falls from the trail, but the view was partially obscured.

It was a steep scramble down and more rhododendron were blocking the view down here.  So I took off my boots to wade in the pool and get a clear view of the waterfall.

It's not nearly as big as Reece Place, but quite scenic nonetheless.  After some pictures, we headed back.  We drove back to US-64 and took NC-215 to Tanasee Gap Road, parking about 4.5 miles down at the gated FR-9999.  We followed the road a short ways to a clearing with a trashy campsite and from here bushwhacked through dense dog hobble down the ridgeline towards Double Branch.  We came out above the waterfall and continued down to where it cleared out a little.  From here, it was easy to get to a spot about three-quarters of the way down the falls.  A huge tree had fallen at the base, so couldn't get a picture from down there anywhere.

The water level was pretty low but the rocks were really cool.  I think this one would like nice in higher water.  From here, we followed the creek downstream to Parker Creek and crossed to pick up an old logging road.  The old road followed the creek down, crossing several times.  There were plenty of trees fallen over the road, but it was pretty easy to follow.  One downed tree had a lot of sulphur shelf fungi growing out of it.

Near where Parker Creek enters private property, we crossed once more and followed a tributary upstream to John Neal Falls.  The water level was low, but I think this would be a gorgeous waterfall in high water.

We got some pictures and took a rest here for a bit before heading back.  Rather than bushwhacking, we continued on the old road until it met up with FR-9999.  Turning right, it was about a mile back - a little longer, but much easier than bushwhacking again.  Alex certainly appreciated it.  We stopped in Brevard for dinner at Rocky's Drive-In.  They have outdoor seating so we could eat with Alex.  He even got his own hot dog!

After that we stopped at Ecusta Brewery for a drink before heading back to camp.  It started raining so we couldn't start a campfire and just went to bed.