074 – Courthouse Falls

Accessibility – Easy

Height – Approx 40′

Distance – 0.7 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 9

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 8

GPS Info: LAT 35.2717 LONG -82.8941

Last Updated: 08-22-2017


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Of all the waterfalls on FR140, none is more popular than Courthouse Falls. the 40 foot high waterfall on Courthouse Creek is one of the prettiest in the area. Despite this, there is a chance you might have it to yourself.

Getting to the trailhead will require a drive of 3.0 miles along FR140 from the intersection with NC215. FR140 was never the smoothest of logging roads and now that the lower end of FR140, between FR140A and NC215 is being used as a logging road once again and the logging trucks are tearing it up, expect a bumpy ride. As always the incline before Courthouse Falls is a bumpy mess.

To get to the falls from the Blue Ridge Parkway, reset your trip odometer while you’re sitting at the stop sign at the base of the ramp. Make a right and pass under the BRP and continue South for 6.5 miles. FR140 is located on the far side of the bridge over Courthouse Creek. The left turn is right after the bridge. Coming from US64, the drive is 10.2 miles up NC215 to the right hand turn just before the bridge. If the road is open, which it has been every time I’ve passed this year, you can drive 3.0 miles to a small pull off on the right just after you pass over Courthouse Creek.

The hike is slightly more than a third of a mile following the combined orange blazed Courthouse Falls Trail and the Blue Blazed Summey Cove Trail. The hike will take less than 10 minutes and is easy enough. It’s pretty kid-friendly but there are a few spots where you need to use common-sense. If you’re looking to add a hint of adventure to the hike and you want to visit a waterfall that isn’t overrun with people, you can combine this hike with a side trip to Cody Falls.

From the parking area follow the combined trail to the obvious split. Do not be fooled by the insanely steep scramble paths that lead to open cliff areas and sure death. The way to the falls takes you past the falls and then switches back to get you down the ridge. The trial you want is well worn and cuts back to the left. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you see the big, yellow “don’t do stupid things on the rocks or you may die” sign at the intersection. Turn onto the Courthouse Falls Trail and follow it to the steps that lead down to the rocks on the river right of the falls. Once on the rocks you can climb down into the pool and enjoy the water.

The hike is kid friendly and the scramble down to the base isn’t too bad. Getting a good shot can be accomplished from anywhere on the bank or on the rocks below the bank. The waterfall is set back in a rock cove that frames it nicely. If you have the time, you can head up the road to the next stop on the FR140 tour, Upper Courthouse Falls.

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Another trip to Courthouse Falls – August 2017
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After the rains at Courthouse Falls – July 2016
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Courthouse Falls – June 2015
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The swimming hole below Courthouse Falls – June 2015
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Shadows at Courthouse Falls – June 2015