029 – Upper Silver Run Falls

Accessibility – Moderate+

Height: Approx 20′

Distance – 0.7 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 9

GPS Info: LAT 35.0672 LONG -82.0642

Last Updated: 04/01/2017

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Upper Silver Run Falls is the first of two waterfalls on this section of Silver Run Creek but certainly the lesser seen. Silver Run Falls is a tourist magnet but most either don’t know about the Upper Falls or they are put off by the means of accessing the trail. Silver Run Falls is easily accessed while the upper waterfall requires some added effort and is not suited for everyone. The 25 foot high Silver Run Falls is extremely popular due to its ease of access and its beauty. Access to both falls is via a gravel trail from a parking area on the side of SC107 in Cashiers NC.

The drive to Silver Run Falls from Brevard NC is a long one so plan your day accordingly. You can hit this one after Toxaway Falls or some of the sights on NC281 South or after a visit to the West side of Panthertown Vally. You pass over Toxaway Falls and Gorges is close to the intersection of US64 and NC281. From Brevard follow US64 West from Brevard to Cashiers NC. At the intersection with NC107, make a left and follow NC107 for about 4 miles to a large parking area on the left. The open expanse can accommodate half a dozen cars if everyone parks with this in mind. The trail descends from the parking right by the sign for Silver Run Falls. The gravel path winds through the forest, crossing a small footbridge before ending at the side of the falls. The trail to the right leads to the crowds. If you keep heading straight, adventure awaits.

My July 2016 hike to Upper Silver Run Falls actually began more than two years earlier in June of 2014, when I first climbed up to the trail. My then 5-year-old daughter watched me go and was incensed that I made the climb without her. My return was met with a teary-eyed admission, “but I wanted to climb the root ladder with you.” Thus. the legend of the “root ladder” was born. It came up on numerous hikes, daddy’s venturing into the unknown at the top of the mystical “root ladder”. I probably told Alana the story 50 times and she told it back to me twice that many. As I had previously obsessed over Looking Glass Rock, Yellowstone Falls and Dismal Falls, she was obsessed with the “root ladder.” Not a trip went by that she didn’t ask if we could return. I kept putting off, resolute in the believe that she would get halfway into it and chicken out. I knew there was no way she would go through with it. Saying I want to do it and actually doing it are two entirely different things.

In July of 2016 we returned and she proved me wrong. She followed her cousin Libby to the top without missing a beat. I stayed close behind to prevent an incident but there wasn’t a hint of a misstep. She didn’t finch on the way up or down. I was even told on the way down that she didn’t need my help. It was one of the happiest hiking moments when she gave me a huge hug as we stood in front of Upper Silver Run Falls and told me ‘thank you.’

When you’re ready, leave Silver Run Falls, make a right. Head toward the cliff face that is an extension of the waterfall. The ground is almost exclusively exposed roots so walk with caution. The trail will appear to dead end against the cliff but if you look closely you will see a series of exposed roots on the rock face. This is what Alana dubbed “the root ladder” back in 2014. To get to Upper Silver Run Falls, you need to scale “the root ladder”. It’s maybe 15-18 feet high but the roots are spaced perfectly for climbing. Even the way down isn’t so bad and I hate heights. Just think about it before you ascend.

At the top of the climb a trail meanders upstream to the waterfall less than 0.1 of a mile away. The rhodos are thick up here and there are plenty of briers. The trail is traveled enough that it is obvious and easy to follow. Near the falls the trail splits. The right branch goes down to the falls and the left ascends to a remote campsite. There is some downfall and clutter making it hard to get into the pool below the falls. The view of the falls is further complicated by a collection of three small trees that fell over into the pool. In my August 2017 photo I’m backed up against the downfall. The pics from last year are from much further downstream. You’ll have to walk through the creek to get to the exposed rocks in front of the falls. If you make the hike, you will be rewarded with a great view and privacy even if there are 20 people down below as their was when we were there on a Sunday in July of 2016.

Much better water flow – August 2017
Upper Silver Run Falls – July 2016
The collection pool at Upper Silver Run Falls – July 2016
Up close – Upper Silver Run Falls – July 2016
The area around Upper Silver Run Falls – July 2016
Potholes at Upper Silver Run Falls – July 2016
Alana and I scaling the Root Ladder – July 2016