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Waterfalls along Charleys Creek Road

posted Jun 6, 2017, 5:38 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 16, 2017, 7:27 AM ]

Sandy and I spent the Memorial Day weekend in the far western part of North Carolina chasing waterfalls.  We left very early Friday morning and drove to Asheville and then took the Blue Ridge Parkway south to NC-215.  We went south a short ways and turned onto Charleys Creek Road, making several stops along the way to visit waterfalls.  Our first stop was a small pull-off just a couple miles from NC-215.  From here, we hiked a short distance back up the road and got on an old gravel road that crossed Pinhook Creek.  Pinhook Falls is about a quarter-mile upstream from the crossing, but there's no trail whatsoever, so it was easiest to just creek walk.  In a couple spots, there was some semblance of a trail and we used that to get around some cascades on the creek.  It was a short, but difficult trek to the falls.

Pinhook Falls is a small, cascading waterfall.  Unfortunately, the sun was shining right on it, so couldn't get any good pictures, but this wasn't a real impressive waterfall anyway.  Next to the falls was the remains of some wooden structure, probably a grist mill.

After a couple pictures, we headed back.  Our next stop was just another quarter of a mile up the road at a small gravel parking lot with a picnic area a fire pit.  We followed a path on river-left going downstream along Tanasee Creek and crossed the creek when the trail became overgrown.  But the other side of the creek was even worse - it was a bushwhack with no semblance of a trail.  We crossed back over and got to the point of the confluence of Pinhook Creek and Tanasee Creek and at this point, we had to cross back over to river-right.  This was very close to the top of Tanasee Creek Falls.  At the falls, there was an old road and we followed it a short ways to a scramble path down to the base of Tanasee Creek Falls.

This is a real scenic waterfall in two sections, but again the lighting was poor.  There were a lot of beautiful mountain laurel blooming next to the falls that made up for the bad lighting.  We got a couple pictures and then headed back.  Continuing down Charleys Creek Road a couple miles, we turned right on the gravel Harris Cemetery Lane just before the road crossed Gage Creek on a bridge.  This rather sketchy gravel road led to a split where we went right onto FR-4648 and followed to a split where the road forded Gage Creek.  From parking spot, we hiked the old road to the right and crossed Gage Creek in a short distance.  It was less than a half-mile to the scenic Gage Creek Falls.

This waterfall was mostly in the shade so finally some decent photo opportunities.  The small cascades just downstream of the falls were really nice.

After a couple pictures, we made our way back.  Back on the main road, we continued to the road's namesake creek and parked just before the bridge.  We hiked FR 4655 following the creek upstream.  Although most of the route was along an old road, it was very confusing as there were a number of forks in the road.  We tried to stay close to the creek, following it upstream, but at some point, we had to just bushwhack.  Although not terribly steep, the bushwhack was extremely difficult as the banks of the creek are totally overgrown with dense rhododendron.  We crossed the creek and continued bushwhacking up to another old road on the other side and eventually came to Charley Creek Falls.

Even in high water, this waterfall is so overgrown that it's not terribly scenic.  After a couple pictures we made our way back - and it was no easier getting back.  At Charleys Creek Road, we could hear a waterfall flowing right under the road, but couldn't see much from up here.

So I scrambled down the steep embankment to get to the base of Charleys Bridge Falls - much more scenic than the main waterfall in my opinion.  It was starting to get late, but we wanted to get one more waterfall while we were here, so continued on and pulled off just past a bridge over Sols Creek.  Roy Taylor Falls was probably the easiest waterfall of the day.  We hiked the road back a short ways and picked up an old logging road following Sols Creek upstream.  In about a quarter-mile, the waterfall was easily heard and partially visible from the old road.

It was a short but steep bushwhack down to creek level to see the waterfall, which was very scenic, a nice waterfall to finish up the day.  After a couple pictures, we headed back and finished up Charleys Creek Road at NC-281.  From here, we drove to Franklin and checked into the Hampton Inn for the weekend.  Driving in, we saw a barbecue place right in front of the hotel, so after unpacking the car, we headed down to Willys for some barbecue and then headed back to the hotel for showers and to get some sleep.