162 – Little Bradley Falls

Accessibility – Easy+

Height – 40′ (terraced)

Distance – 1.94 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 6

GPS Info: LAT 35.2542 LONG -82.2951

Last updated – 10-17-2016


Little Bradley Falls is three-terraced waterfall upstream from Bradley falls on Cove Creek. The setting is very peaceful with a large pool at the base and a high rock wall on the river right side of the falls. The lay of the land provides for some dramatically different views from the left side of the poo, the rocks across the pool or the creek downstream. The light was challenging on my visit but it did enhance the spray coming off the falls. I was actually surprised how much spray was coming off the falls. The moss covered rocks along the base add to the colorful setting.

To reach Little Bradley Falls take exit 59 off I-26 (Saluda/Tryon). Coming from Asheville you will make a left onto Holbert Cove Rd. Coming from South Carolina, you will make a right. Follow Holbert Cover road for 3.1 miles. There are two parking areas. The trailhead is accessed from the small area on the right after crossing Cove Creek. This lot can hold 3-4 cars. There is additional parking before Cove Creek on the left (this is the trailhead for Big Bradley Falls.

The trailhead enters the woods and immediately heads a up steep incline, head up the hill. There is a trail that follows the creek as well, don’t take this one. After climbing the incline, the trail follows a relatively level course as it heads upstream. The creek is well below for most of the early part of the hike. Two side trails intersect, one from the left and the other descending steely to the right, bypass them and stay on the main trail. Not too far into the walk (5 minutes), the trail will descend into a gully marked with several fallen trees. The up and down are steep so use caution. The gully was little more than a trickle on my visit. After the gully it’s 5-7 minutes before the trail reaches Cove Creek. There was no way to cross without getting my feet wet. Of course since I was hiking in water shoes, this was no big thing. The trail resumes on the far side, again mirroring the creek only now on the river left side. At 0.63 miles from the trailhead you will encounter a pile of rocks that were dumped down the embankment to sure up the road. Those who built the road didn’t seem to care that their rocks buried the trail. Now the rocks are part of the trail. Carefully pick your way across them and resume on the trail. After the rocks the trail will lead to one more creek crossing. This one is wide but the water was only a few inches deep. The waterfall is just ahead. The trail will end across the pool from the falls. You can climb down the boulders on the river left side to get to the edge of the pool or you can make your way to the downstream side of the pool. In either case, the view is amazing.

I had the good fortune of being here on a Monday in Mid-October so I had the place to myself. I doubt this will be the case if you show up on a weekend or any day in the summer. It strikes me as the kind of places that draws a crowd. It’s easy to reach and really pretty. I also guess that people tend to linger once they get here. The hike is kid friendly and the creek crossings are manageable even if you have to get your feet wet.

I took some shots from the left side of the pool, the rocks above the pool and the downstream side of the pool. I also set up in the water and took a few. The light wasn’t great on my visit so I had to get a little creative with the shots. The ones from straight on were awful. The sunlight really highlighted the mist coming off the falls, which was a cool effect. It also cast a surreal glow on the shots from downstream. After the physical and mental beating I endured on my Big Falls excursion the previous day, Little Bradley Falls was a great way to end my short trip.

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Shadows and Mist at Little Bradley Falls – October 2016
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Slightly wider view – October 2016
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The downstream view – Little Bradley Falls – October 2016
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Shadows and light – Little Bradley Falls
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Little Bradley – July 2017
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A moment of shade – July 2017
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The middle drop – July 2017

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