Accessibility – Moderate
Height: Approx 50′
Distance – 1.3 (out and back)
Beauty – 8
Photo rating – 8
Solitude – 5
GPS Info: LAT 35.7602 LONG -82.1919
Last updated – 07-17-2017
Without a doubt Roaring Fork Falls is in the running for my favorite of the 14 new waterfalls I saw on my July 2017 trip. The hike was nice and included several old buildings on the side of the trail. It wasn’t overly taxing and the waterfall at the end was amazing. The water level was up after the rain and this added to the setting. Roaring Fork had been on the agenda for Saturday but after the rains came when we were on the summit of Mt Mitchell we had to call it off. We almost didn’t go back on Sunday since our plan had been to do the Bradley hike (Milton, Cooper, Marilu and Big + Cavern Falls) but our plans changed Sunday morning and it was off to NC80 near the BRP before heading home.
To get to the trailhead, follow NC80 North from the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 344.1 for 2.2 miles to South Toe River Road on the left. South Toe River Road crosses a small bridge almost immediately. At this point you need to turn left onto a smaller road. There is a sign there for a business (Busick Work Center). If you didn’t turn South Toe River Road would have taken you to the turn for Setrock Creek Falls. The road ends at a gate and the parking area is on the left. When we did the hike, we were the first one to arrive. By the time we returned the lot was full and cars were parked along the road as well. This was on the Sunday morning so I would advise getting here early.
The trail starts across the road from the parking area and climbs the hill past a gate. It moderates after the initial climb and follows a mostly level course along a logging grade. This section features two concrete structures along the right side of the road. These two old buildings add a little something to the hike. At a point 0.6 of a mile from the trailhead the logging grade will cross Roaring Fork. Don’t cross the bridge but instead enter the woods on a smaller trail. The final stretch of the hike is on this smaller path. It ends at the river left of the falls and a scramble leads a few feet down to the water. There are a few large flat stones in the area where you can set up a tripod. The waterfall is framed by thick vegetation and the way the water falls, makes this creek seem bigger than it is. The setting is great but the lighting can be a problem. By the time we were leaving there was a crowd developing so getting an early start on this one is a must for photographers.
The hike is kid friendly and there really are no hazards on this one. The rocks around the falls are slippery but this is usually the case so be careful if you’re moving around to get a shot.