Accessibility – Medium
Height – Approx 25′
Distance – 0.75 miles (out and back)
Beauty – 7
Photo rating – 8
Solitude – 8
GPS Info: LAT 35.2717 LONG -82.8957
Last Updated: 09-07-2017
Little Beartrap Falls and it’s neighbor Berry Branch Falls are now the furthest North I’ve explored along NC 215. Both waterfalls are accessed from FR97, a seasonally closed logging grade around 8.5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. There isn’t a gate right at NC215 but there is one about a third of a mile in so keep this in mind. Additionally right across NC215 from FR97 is a great swimming hole along the river.
To get to Little Beartrap Falls, follow NC 215 North 8.4 miles north of the intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway. You will see FR97 on the left before the road veers to the right. Make the left and follow FR97. At a third of a mile there is a gate and a sign for the Haywood Gap Trail. If the gate is closed, it’s a 1.6 mile walk to the trailhead. If the gate is open, continue up FR97. There is a low water bridge not too far past the gate. When I was there it had about 3-4 inches of water coursing over it. After the bridge the road will narrow and ascend. At the first right hand switch back there is a trailhead going into the woods. Continue on FR97. At the nest hard right switchback, there is a trailhead. This one is marked 97H, park here.
The trail enters the woods on a level grade from the outside of the switchback and leads right to Little Beartrap Falls. The creek flows over the trail so there is part of the falls above the trail and part of the falls are below the road. There are a couple of ways down to the base of the falls. I went a little further up the trail past Berry Branch Falls and located a trail down to the base of that waterfall. You could probably go down the bank near Little Beartrap Falls as well but I didn’t go that way. Once I got down to the bottom of Berry Branch it was an easy crossing to get to base of Little Beartrap Falls. The two creeks join here and head down the mountain. Neither of the falls are huge or overly impressive. Little Beartrap is clogged with crap. It would be a lot nicer after a day’s work with a chainsaw clearing all the logs. I think Berry Branch is the nicer of the two but it could use some sprucing up as well. I was there while it was raining so both had very good flow. I doubt this is usually the case.
Both of these falls are definitely off the beaten path so you need to think about whether you want to drive all the way out here to see them. If you’re going to Little Bird Falls and Sunburst I suppose you could include them but I think most people wouldn’t consider these two worth the bumpy drive and scramble down. If you combine them with some other waterfalls along this route you could make a day of it. I haven’t explored further into the area but as I do, I will update this page to reflect any hiking suggestions.