Accessibility – Difficult
Height – 285′ (85′ above main drop + 120′ freefall + 80′ rockslide/cascade)
Distance – 6.4 (out and back)
Beauty – 10
Photo rating – 6
Solitude – 10
GPS Info: LAT 35.2201 LONG -83.0334
Last updated – 09-19-2016
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. After 156 waterfalls, I began feeling as if I had seen it all. When we reached the creek below the falls, the first thing we saw was the lower drop. Just another waterfall.
My initial reaction was, “well, there it is.”
I believe it was Kristi who responded, “that’s not it. No way.”
Then we began scaling the boulders on the river right and the higher we climbed the more of the falls that came into view. By the time we got to the top of the boulder pile, I was in awe. I had no idea what to expect and the pictures I’d seen, just like the pictures I took, don’t do this one justice. For more than a year Upper Dill Falls remained atop my Top 10 list. That reign ended on 9-18-2016, as Flat Creek Falls took the spot.
The Flat Creek Falls visit seemingly came out of nowhere. One day I was adding it to my bucket list and under two weeks later I was there. The journey to Flat Creek Falls began with an innocent conversation with a fellow enthusiast, Stephanie, shortly after my last trip to Dismal Falls. Our brief text exchange turned into an invite for the hike. Having been to the falls numerous times, Stephanie was already planning to make the hike with several friends. She extended an invite and I was all in.
To get to the trailhead, follow US64 west out of Brevard until it intersects with NC281 North. As of 9-18-2016 there is road construction and blasting work going on around the junction so delays are possible. If you get to Toxaway Falls turn around and go back 0.6 miles. Bear right onto NC281. Follow NC281N for 9.3 miles to SR1140 – Rock Bridge Road and make a left. The drive up the unpaved Rock Bridge Road starts by going over a metel bridge. The road is in decent shape with a few rough patches so use caution. Follow Rock Bridge Road 1.7 miles to the intersection with FR4662. Bear right, heading downhill. The trailhead is 2.1 miles down FR4662. Along the way there are several areas that are in the process of being logged so don’t be surprised. The parking area is small so it took some doing for the six of us to pack our cars in without blocking in a couple of trout fishermen.
The hike beings by crossing the creek on a pair of logs or wading through the ankle deep water. For our purposes, the six of us walked across the logs. The hike ascends slightly to an open area where a trail enters the woods on the right. Before making the right into the woods, another logging road heads to the left, this leads to Nellie’s Falls. I’ve read in places that there is private property along this route but I didn’t see any no trespassing signs. Thank God Stephanie knew where she was going. There are a lot of turns and trails and logging roads. They all look the same and one wrong turn and they may never find you. Many of the turns were marked with ribbons but not all. These can be an unreliable method and if you’re considering hiking this one, find someone whose been there and ask them. What I can say is we made a right at most every intersection and kept heading downhill. For the most part the grade isn’t too bad but the final mile to the falls is exclusively downhill which means, coming back, the calves will be aching. Speaking from experience, I GPS tracked the hike to the falls and this made for an invaluable guide on the way back.
Our route came to just over 3 miles one way, the final hundred yards or so of which is a rock hop, boulder climb to a great viewing area at the base of the falls. The upper drop is amazing even from down below but the best view is higher up. If the rock is wet, forget it, you will get hurt, likely badly hurt. From the huge boulder on the river left, the rock slopes up toward the upper drop, this is the way up. There is a large crack in the rock, which led up to the main drop. The rock is slick but we did it in bare feet and water shoes. I was hesitant at first but as Stephanie and I watched Megan, Kristi and Daniel scoot up the incline, we deiced we had to go. Getting up the incline wasn’t nearly as daunting as it looked but it is not for the timid. Getting down will test your nerves as one slip and you’re riding a 60-foot rock slide into roughly a foot of water and a pile of boulders. Coming down, I went most of the way on my butt. Not exactly the manly way but it was the safe way.
Once to the flat area above the slope, make your way toward the edge (away from the main drop) to get around some larger rocks. You can carefully cross the creek here but if the water is up, don’t do it on my account. As far as I’m concerned, you don’t need to climb up here at all. You need to think it through carefully before you start climbing. If you make it to the top and can get across the creek, there is a grassy area to the right that provides a great view of the falls. Kid friendly? The hike isn’t too bad. Climbing up the lower portion of the falls would be a no. Photographing this one offers some challenge, at least it did for us. An overcast sky above the falls made for an awful backdrop. The only decent pix I got were the ones where I included minimal sky. This just means I’m going to have to go back again when the photographic conditions are better! In the mean time, here’s the best I got to offer.