075 – Upper Courthouse Falls

Accessibility – Medium

Height – Approx 20′ high & 40′ long

Distance – 1.6 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 6

Photo rating – 5

Solitude – 9

GPS Info: LAT 35.2935 LONG -82.9036

Last Updated: 08-22-2017


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Compared to Courthouse Falls, Upper Courthouse Falls is not worth a separate trip. If you’re in the area and you want to enjoy a pleasant hike along an old logging road with a waterfall payoff at the end, this is the one for you. Upper Courthouse Falls drops about 20 feet as is slides along approximately 40 feet of exposed rock. It’s similar in appearance to Sliding Rock but in a untamed area. Like Courthouse Falls, getting to the upper falls is dependent on FR140 being open or the hike simply isn’t worth it. The start of the hike is 0.25 of a mile from the parking area for Courthouse Falls.

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 a narrow bridge so use the ‘narrow bridge’ sign as your warning to slow down. 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 narrow bridge. FR140 has spent a lot of time the last few years barred to vehicle traffic so check in advance to avoid a wasted trip. This most recent closure began in August of 2015. If the road is open you can drive 3.2 miles to where the road is gated. If you’re coming from Courthouse Falls, the drive is around 0.25 of a mile. Park so as not to block the gate. The road you want to take is the one past the gate. The road also goes up the hill but I haven’t explored in that direction yet.

The trail follows a logging grade with only a few fallen trees to negotiate along the way. The hike to the falls is about 0.75 of a mile and kid friendly. The terrain isn’t too steep and the path is easy enough to follow. Courthouse Creek is nearby for most of the hike and in order to get to the base of the falls you will have to cross the creek to an island in the middle. You can get a good shot from behind the rocks at the base of the falls. There is some amazing color in the rocks that really comes out when they are wet. Unfortunately as of my June 2015 visit there was a fallen tree on the right side of the waterfall and a fallen tree on the fallen tree. This is nature so you come to expect these things. I incorporated them into many of my shots as foreground objects. Not much else you can do.

Once you’re done here, you can head back to your car following the same route or, if you’re looking for an adventure, you can continue upstream. Before you decide, a word of warning, if you head upstream, the hike will be mostly off-trail so it will not be for everyone. My wife took one look at the ‘trail’ we were going to be following and went back to the car. My six-year-old adventure seeker, decided she wanted to ‘mush-on’ with her daddy.

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Upper Courthouse Falls through the trees – June 2015
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Upper Courthouse Falls – June 2015
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Upper Courthouse Falls and the surrounding forest – June 2015

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