166 – Auger Fork Falls

Accessibility – Moderate+

Height: Approx 50′-60′

Distance – 5.40 (out and back)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 10

GPS Info: LAT 35.0918 LONG -82.8966

Last updated – 02-19-2017

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While Auger Fork Falls and Maple Springs Branch Falls are both in Gorges State Park they are not access from the Grassy Creek side of the park (Main Entrance of NC281). Both can be reached from the Frozen Creek Parking Area which is on Frozen Creek Road, 3.0 miles from the intersection with US64, West of Brevard. Coming from Brevard, Frozen Creek Road is on the left, 0.9 of a mile past the intersection with NC215. There is a paving and grading company at the intersection. Make the left and follow this to the parking area. There is a huge sign for Gorges State Park, Frozen Creek Parking Area. You really shouldn’t be able to miss it. Park in the lot and follow the gravel path toward the kiosks and then toward the footbridge. At the point you are following the yellow and orange blazes. Once across it’s a short 0.2 mile hike to Auger Hole Road. Make a right. The first 0.6 of a mile is mostly uphill, the last 0.4 of this stretch is REALLY uphill.

At the top of the hill Auger Hole Road T’s into Cane Brake Road. Make a right. There is a sign poiting the way. At this stage you are following the orange blazes. The trail heads downhill after the yellow and orange split, giving you the feeling you just walked over a buried pyramid that’s a half mile a side. After this the trail moderates but continues to head down slowly. The were few obstacles along the way but looking at the way the bank on the uphill side was eroding and the number of dead hemlocks clinging to the crumbling mountainside, this will likely change in the near future. About 1.8 miles into the hike, 1.6 miles along Auger Hole Road, I could hear and see a small waterfall across the valley. I think it was Double Drop Falls but I didn’t climb down to investigate. The road continues through a series of switchbacks. At 2.5 miles from the trailhead (2.3 along Auger Hole Road), the road goes into a long right hand switchback around a ridge. The scramble path is on the outside of this bend. There was a downed tree lying along the side of the road which marked the spot.

Let the scramble begin. Initially it wasn’t too bad. Some kind sole had strung orange and pink ribbons along the way, none of which were visible from Auger Hole Road. They gave me an idea of the way. In time the scramble leads to a rocky spine. When it’s time to get off the rocky spine, it is now one of ‘those scrambles’. There are two ways to go about it. You can go off the left side of the rocky spine and make your way around it. (not so bad but not easy either.) This was the way I went down. Of you can go off the left side of the spine, (I came up this way but there was no way I was going down that way.) It’s a sloped rock face with nothing to hold onto. And there’s nothing to break your fall for quite a ways. Once you’re past the spine, the path remains steep but navigable. I lost the ribbons on the way down but I ended up emerging onto the rocky area at the base of the falls where I did find a pink ribbon. Cross the creek to the gravel area. If you look at the hillside you just came down, you will see Auger Fork Falls. If you turn around and look behind you, you will see Maple Springs Branch Falls.

The hike is kid-friendly but the scramble is not. The rocky spine was nerve-racking and there was a lot of scooting from tree to tree. I’m not sure if my little one is up for this one or not. I’ll have to think on it. Shooting Auger Fork Falls is pretty straight forward. You can shoot the individual drops or the while from the open area in front. If you cross back over the creek to where the trail ended, you can shoot profile isos of the lower section. When you’re done, there’s a trail that leads up to the middle of Maple Springs Branch Falls. If you want a good shot, you’re going to have to climb up there. It wasn’t too bad.

Auger Fork Falls – Feb 2017
The upper drop – Auger Fork Falls – Feb 2017
Another full view – Feb 2017
Lower drop – Feb 2017
Lower drop in profile from where the trail ends – Feb 2017