168 – Pigeon Branch Falls

Accessibility – Moderate

Height: Approx 15′

Distance – 0.70 (out and back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 6

Solitude – 8

GPS Info: LAT 35.361350 LONG -82.783601

Last updated – 03-06-2017


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Pigeon Branch Falls isn’t the biggest waterfall in Pisgah Forest at little more than 15 feet high but it does have a certain character about it and it is isolated enough that you’re going to get to enjoy this one without the usual crowds along the US276 corridor. There is no trail to the falls but this adds to the fun. This isn’t a hike, it’s an adventure.

This adventure begins at the confluence of US276/US64/NC280 in Brevard. Follow US276 11.7 miles to the right turn for FR1206 (Yellow Gap Road). Park out of the way either before or after FR1206. If you’re coming from the Parkway, the turn is 3.3 miles from the stop sign at the base of the ramp. Cross US276 and walk uphill toward the parkway (North) to where Pigeon Branch intersects US276. Near the end of the guardrail you’ll see a large vine hanging down in the shape of a U. This is where the adventure begins. There is no trail. I began on river right and followed it upstream until the contour forced me to cross the creek. I don’t have a landmark other than it was easier to cross and work my way up the river left side. When I got to the falls I was glad I did.

The river-left is a tangled mess of rhodos, downfall and briers but it looked easier than river-right. Lots and lots of briers, which thanks to the time of year were easily identified since they were bright green and just about everything else was dead. On my way to the falls I kept trying to get higher on the hillside to get away from the undergrowth but the contour kept forcing me closer to the creek. Just keep following the creek upstream along the easiest route. There are a lot of fallen trees to climb over and some thick sections to work around. As long as you can hear or see the creek, you’re on course.

If you’ve ever hiked without a trail, the bushwhack, you probably know the feeling of, “am I in the right place?” I was maybe five minutes past that question when I saw the falls through the brush. Getting in front was easy from the river left but looking at the river right, it would have been a perilous descent indeed. You can hike to the falls on either side of the creek but when you get close to the falls you will want to be on the river left.

The falls can be shot from numerous locations in front but there isn’t a lot of room to back up before the rhodos encroach. The hike to the falls was 0.35 of a mile but it’s slow going. In a way it reminded me of my hike to the Falls on Double Branch, which I did last March when most everything was dead. It just doesn’t strike me as the kind of hike I want to do in the summer. As much as I hate hiking in jeans and a sweatshirt, there is no other way for this one. This one is kind of low on the kid-friendliness scale. Truthfully, if you’re a casual hiker, you probably won’t like it much either. For those of you who like explore and don’t mind getting dirty and scraped up, this one is great. Even staying at the falls to take pictures, eat lunch and relax I was back to my truck in less than two hours. The actual hike time was 20-25 minutes each way.

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Pigeon Branch Falls – March 2017
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The colored rock at the base – March 2017
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The falls from the middle of the creek – March 2017
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Downstream portrait – March 2017

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