153 – Melrose Falls

Accessibility – Medium (Difficult to get to the base)

Height – 75′

Distance – 1.3 (out and back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 5

Solitude – 8

GPS Info: LAT 35.2203 LONG -82.2988

Last updated – 09-24-2016

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Melrose Falls is a 70-80 foot high waterfall near Saluda. The waterfall is on Big Fall Creek not too far upstream from where the creek empties into the Pacolet River. The hike to the falls isn’t too bad for the most part but the trail down to the cliff viewing area is a little on the steep side and the rock face viewing area requires caution. The area is big enough to move around but the drop is for sure deadly. You can get to the base of the falls but it was a lot of work and the view wasn’t that great.

To get to Melrose Falls, from I-26 take exit 59 Saluda/Tryon. If you’re coming from SC, make a left at the base of the ramp following Ozone Drive west towards Saluda. If you are coming from Hendersonville make a right onto Ozone Drive. Follow Ozone Drive until it ends at US176 (about a mile). Make a left and follow US176 3.1 miles to the pullout on the right. Along the way at 2.5 miles from Ozone Drive you will pass Pearson’s Falls Rd, if you want to visit a much easier waterfall you can make a right here and stop at Pearson’s Falls. If not, the parking area for Melrose Falls will be just before the second bridge over the Pacolet River. There is enough room for two or three cars. Several large boulders prevent vehicle access beyond the parking area.

The hike begins by following the logging road past the boulders and up the hill. The grade moderates after the initial climb. Just over 0.1 of a mile from the parking area, a trail heads into the woods to the left. Follow this trail. It takes a mostly level course for the next 0.5 of a mile. Along the way it passes two very cool rock formations on the left side of the trail, the first of which is high cliff with a huge tree propped against it (last picture). I didn’t venture down but it looked as if more than one person had camped down here. The second formation isn’t as impressive but it is a smaller version of the cliff viewing area. At 0.6 from the parking area the trail will reach a fallen tree that diverts the trail to the left. If you crossed the tree and kept going you would reach the creek at the top of the falls. The trail will now descend steeply toward the cliff. The falls is audible to the right and you can see poor glimpses through the trees. The trail ends at the rock area. You can climb onto the rocks to take a picture. The closer you get to the edge, the better the shot and the better the chance of falling to a painful death. I didn’t get too close but that’s just me.

While I didn’t venture too close to the edge, I did undertake the plunge to the base of the falls. This part of the hike will not suit most and the view down there isn’t all that great. I didn’t know this when I went down. You know do, so bear this in mind. If you decide you really need to see the base, enjoy. I would tell you the way but it was more about picking my way down than following a trail. I can tell you there is a lot of wood nettle down there and some poison ivy. The latter doesn’t bother me but the former sure does. Do yourself a favor and confine your viewing to the cliff area. Keep an eye on your kids and your dogs up here. It’s easily 75-100 feet down and the only thing there to break your fall are boulders. I felt like I struggled with the pictures on this one. These are the best I got. The second proves how little to see there is down at the base 😉

The bottom drop – September 2016
The pool below the cliff – Melrose Falls – September 2016


I needed a chainsaw to clean up this view 🙂 – September 2016
Same chainsaw required, different vantage – September 2016
The uppermost drop – September 2016
The large rock formation along the trail – September 2016