Accessibility – Moderate+
Height – 40′
Distance – 2.5 mile (out and back)
Beauty – 4
Photo rating – 3
Solitude – 10
GPS Info: LAT 35.3492 LONG -82.7898
Last Updated – 11-25-2017
Like No-Name Cove Falls, which is accessed from the same trailhead, Poundingmill Branch Falls is not easy to reach, not easy to photograph and not on most maps. The remote falls lies about a quarter of a mile beyond the end of FR5032 in Pisgah Forest. Trailhead access is off FR475B close to the intersection with US276. The hike is comprised of three sections. The lowest follows a defined trail, the middle section is along FR5032 and the final quarter of a mile is a bushwhack with several short sections of poorly defined trail. This is not a hike for the novice and the average tourist will not enjoy this hike and won’t appreciate the waterfall.
Like all of the waterfalls accessed from this trailhead, it you stop in the ranger station and ask about Poundngmill Branch Falls or for that matter Bennett Cove Falls, Cherry Cove Falls or No-Name Cove Falls, you’ll get an odd look and likely be told there are no waterfalls in that area. They’re there. I’ve been to all of them.
To get reach the parking area on FR475B (Headwaters Road), toke US276 North from the intersection of US64/NC280/US276 in Brevard, follow US276 10.3 miles to the turn for FR475B on the left. From the Blue Right Parkway the right turn to FR475B is about 4.7 miles. At certain times of the year FR475B is gated but that won’t matter for this hike since the parking area is before the gate. After leaving US276. FR475B ascends to an open area with a large pullout on the left and logging road heading to the right. Park here.
The hike begins across FR475B on the gated FR5032 which you’re not on for long. Just before the gate a trail turns right into the woods and leads to a campsite. Follow this and when you reach the campsite follow the trail up the mountain (make a left). It isn’t too steep and it is easy enough to follow. In all you’re on the trail for 0.25 of a mile before you reach FR5032, which you could have followed from the gate to reach this point. Once on FR5032 make a right and follow it higher. The grade is modest and as you advance you will pass through a wildlife clearing as the road winds on. When the road ends, continue straight ahead into the woods on the faint trail, which will angle you upstream (left). At times the trail is obvious as it heads toward the creek.
This part of the forest is littered with blowdown so you will be climbing over and around a lot of crap. Keep heading upstream with the creek on your right. The going will get steep as you near the falls and this is when I got into the creek and climbed over the fallen trees and boulders. It wasn’t easy to pass some of the obstacles but if you take your time, you’ll make it. This is not a section of hike for those unfamiliar with off-trail hiking. The bushwhack portion from the end of FR5032 is around a quarter of a mile but even on a sunny November day I was working up a sweat on this part of the adventure.
Once to the base of the falls, which is above the lowest drop, you have to get close to the rock that comprises the falls due to the terrain. If you back up too far you’ll fall off the ledge at the midpoint of the falls. It is not a great angle and you can forget about pictures of the lower section. Half a dozen massive tree-trunks are heaped on and over it. Thankfully I had a crisp blue November sky for my background.