243 – Shuck Ridge Creek Falls

Accessibility – Difficult

Height: Approx 25′

Distance – 9.0 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 7

Solitude – 6

GPS Info: LAT 35.2955 LONG -82.8613

Last updated – 11/24/2017

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While this isn’t a terribly difficult hike, with the exception of the scramble to the base of the falls, it is one of the longer hikes you’re going to undertake in this part of the world when in search of falling water. Coming in at just under 9 miles and capped by a steep and lengthy scramble, this is the kind of hike that cane take it out of you, especially on a summer day. I began this hike the day after Thanksgiving in 45 degree weather and by the time i was to the base of the falls I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Hiking 9 miles to see a waterfall, actually 3 waterfalls, is a serious undertaking.

While a long hike, much of it along a high ridge which is mostly level. There is one section of switchbacks gaining the ridge but other than that, you won’t be overwhelmed by elevation change. Both of the trails on this hike are on the map, the Daniel Ridge Loop Trail and the Farlow Gap Trail.

To get to the trailhead, from the intersection of US64/US276/NC280 in Brevard, follow US276 5.3 miles to the split with FR475. Make the left onto FR475 and follow it 3.9 miles, past the point where the pavement ends and the gravel road begins. Just after a narrow bridge crossing you will some to a dirt parking lot on the right side. This is the same starting point as Tom Springs Falls. This spot is popular with mountain bikers so the lot fills up early. This is also the parking area for numerous campsites so don’t be surprised if you’re parking on the side if FR475.

The hike starts beyond the gate at the back end of the parking area. The road ascends up to the bridge over the Davidson River and comes to a T. Tom Springs Falls is to the right. Make a left onto FR137m which is the Daniel Ridge Loop Trail (Red Blaze). You will pass by campsites and remnants of the old fish hatchery. When the trail forks, keep to the right, ascending moderately. The trail will come to the site of an old bridge. The stone supports still flank the creek but the structure is long gone. The grade increases at this point and not far from the bridge you will hear falling water on the left. If you elect to take a short scramble down to check it out, this is what you will see. It isn’t a named falls but it is very pretty and worth a peek. Three-quarters a mile from the bridge the trail will split. The Daniel Ridge Loop Trail goes right. At this point the hike will continue on the Farlow Gap Trail (Blue Blaze). After the split you will rock hop across Right Fork. The next section is the steep ascent through the switchbacks.

The trail to Twin Boulder Falls veers off at the second and third left-hand switchbacks but Shuck Ridge Creek is higher up. At the top of the climb the trail moderates and begins on a long level stretch along the summit. A small creek crossing awaits before the trail begins to descend as it heads for a meeting with Daniel Ridge Creek. Nearly 4 miles in at this point, there is around three-quarters of a mile separating Daniel Ridge Creek and Shuck Ridge Creek Falls. The trail crosses the creek above the falls and below another waterfall that is a short distance upstream. If you want to rockhop up, this is what you’ll find.

So you just hikes 4.5 miles and you’re standing at the top of the waterfall you came to see, Now what? There is no safe way to climb down to the base from the top so here’s what you’re going to have to do. Continue on the Farlow Gap Trail as it climbs away from the falls. In this instance, to get down you first have to go up. As the trail climbs look off to the left for a fallen tree that’s supported across two other trees, making a natural doorway. Head down the steep embankment toward this. The going will be tough and the grade unforgiving. I angled downstream as i got lower to avoid some open rock areas that looked like trouble, eventually reaching the creek downstream of the falls. The creek bed is open rock and easy to negotiate. Once you get to the base of the falls, enjoy the view of the tremendous swimming hole. Even on a cool 50 degree day, I treated myself to a quick plunge before hiking out.

Even in November Shuck Ridge Creek was awesome – November 2017
The plunge pool – November 2017

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