Accessibility – Moderate+
Height: Approx 45′
Distance – 1.0 Miles (out and back)
Beauty – 6
Photo rating – 4
Solitude – 7
GPS Info: LAT 35.0818 LONG -82.9168
Last Updated: 02-19-2017
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Bearwallow Falls is located in Gorges State Park. At the time of my first visit I didn’t know any better and confined my viewing that offered by the observation platform across the ridge. It provides a limited view of one section but doesn’t do this waterfall justice. Almost 3 years to the day after my first visit, I made my return. The view from the deck still didn’t inspire me but this time I headed down to the base to check things out. There is a path that leads down to the creek but it isn’t easy to follow or locate (more on this later). To get to the platform, use the main entrance to Gorges State Park off NC281, 0.8 miles south of US64. This is the Grassy Ridge entrance.
To reach the trailhead follow the entrance road for one mile to the visitors center and bear left. At the stop sign make another left. In just under a mile you will reach the parking area for the trailhead. It is the second parking area on this stretch of road. From this area you can also access the Bearwallow Valley Overlook Trail, a 1 mile round trip. At the midpoint there is an overlook of the valley, Chestnut Mountain, and Lake Jocassee. The Bearwallow Falls Trail is approximately 0.8 miles round trip if you bushwhack your way to the base. The main trail is easy to follow but all downhill so you will be breathing heavy on the way back. The view from the deck is nice but you can only see a small section of the falls. If you want to take a closer look, there is a trail that descends to the right of the walkway to the deck and follows the support pilings until it reaches the woods. From this point, the trail isn’t as apparent but you’re essentially making your way tree to tree until you get to the base. The trip down is tricky but the view was worth it. It reveals a section of falls not seen from above.
The hike is kid friendly but for the smaller kids, they may need a ride back to the top on your shoulders. At the time my daughter was four and she made it halfway and rode the rest. As far as photography, you can only work with what you have. Not a lot of options from the deck. I probably need to stop visiting this one in February when everything is grey! If you head down, there are more options.