Beetree Fork Falls, like Summey Cove Falls a mile away is one of the waterfalls that gets the designation of ‘nearby waterfalls’ in the third edition of Kevin Adams’ NC Waterfalls. Beetree Fork Falls is closer to NC215, more easily accessed and the more photogenic of the pair. It isn’t a waterfall you’re going to drive to Balsam Grove to see but if you’re going to any of the other falls on FR140 and you want a quick adventure, it may be worth a stop. The waterfall is 0.25 of a mile up FR140 from the intersection with NC215. If you’re going to look for it while driving, here’s a hint. If you’re heading up FR140 toward Courthouse Falls you can see it. If you’re coming the other way, forget it. The waterfall falls parallel to FR140 and the North Fork French Broad River. The trees on the far bank hide it from view heading down the road toward NC215. The creek makes a turn at the end where it comes into the river if you find this, you can trace your way to the falls. I spotted it easy enough with the leaves on. If you roll down the windows you can also hear it. There is nowhere to pull off so you have to continue up FR140. At 0.4 of a mile from NC215 there is a pullout on the creek side. You can park here and walk back.
To get to the falls from the Blue Ridge Parkway, reset your trip odometer while you’re sitting at the stop sign at the base of the ramp. Make a right and pass under the BRP and continue South for 6.5 miles. FR140 is located on the far side of a narrow bridge so use the ‘narrow bridge’ sign as your warning to slow down. As of 9-07-2017, the bridge over Courthouse Creek is under repair so the turn to FR140 is just after the single lane area ends. The left turn is right after the bridge. Coming from US64, the drive is 10.2 miles up NC215 to the right hand turn just before the narrow bridge. If the road is open, which it has been on both of my 2017 visits, you can drive 0.4 miles to a wide area, which is about 0.2 of a mile past the falls.
If you want to get a better look you can scramble down the embankment. I found a spot where it was easy to get down to the North Fork very close to where BeeTree Fork dumps into the river. Crossing wasn’t too difficult and from there you can walk up the pile of sloped rocks at the mouth of BeeTree Fork. The falls is about 14-16 feet high. Considering the locale, it isn’t overly cluttered with crap. It is also loud enough that you can’t hear traffic on NC215 which is about 40 feet straight up from the base of the falls. Since the hike does involve a river wade, I don’t know if I’d call it kid friendly. If the water level is low, it isn’t a tough crossing. I did it after a hard rain and it still wasn’t too bad. The total hike, including the portion on FR140 is about half a mile. If you don’t have anything better to do, it’s worth a look. I’m glad I went. I’m sure of the all the people who go to Courthouse Falls, very few even realize BeeTree Fork Falls is there with an even smaller percentage go to check it out.
The scramble and river crossing are pretty sedate as far as these kinds of things go. I know my daughter (age 8) could do this one. The river crossing is just interesting enough to make this into a small adventure without any real danger. Walking up the creek to the falls is mostly flat with only the rocks at the very edge of the river to contend with and they were easy to navigate. You can shoot it from the front by climbing up some of the bigger rocks. I didn’t have time to scope out other angles. An encroaching thunderstorm chased me off before I could seek alternate angles or to venture upstream to see if there was anything else up there. I managed to take a few shots before I had to make a run for it. I will stop back again in the future for a more thorough investigation.