Accessibility – Moderate++
Height – 25′
Distance – 1.3 mile (out and back)
Beauty – 4
Photo rating – 3
Solitude – 10
GPS Info: LAT 35.3753 LONG -82.7822
Last Updated – 11-25-2017
Unless you’re an avid waterfall enthusiast, Cradle Falls is not going to be worth your time or effort. Most of the hike is along Buck Springs Trail but once you get to the correct creek it’s time to bushwhack and creekwalk. Like many areas in Pisgah that are off the main trail, the blowdown is thick and the briers unrelenting. The creek is manageable in most places but there are points where you will be forced to side-hill hike through the underbrush.
The other thing that may dissuade you is the prize lurking almost 4000 feet above sea-level. Please look at my picture to see what you’re going to get all scraped up and dirty going to see before you head out. If i lugged a chainsaw up to this one and spent the better part of the day clearing downfall it would probably be worth the effort. As it stands, I was able to prune back some of the deadfall but even so this was a cluttered mess. Ready to go?
To reach the trailhead from toke US276 North from the intersection of US64/NC280/US276 in Brevard, follow US276 12.7 miles to the pullout for the Buck Springs Trail. This is 1 mile past where Yellow Gap Road (FR1206) meets US276. Coming from the Parkway the pullout is on the left 2.3 miles from the stop sign at the base of the ramp. A row of boulders mark the place to park and the trail descends from the edge of the pullout.
The Buck Springs Trail is easy to follow and doesn’t have a lot of grade to it as it skirts the mountainside. You will pass a dry drainage and then have to cross a low-flow creek before you get to the correct stream. You will know you’re in the right place when you see a small cascading waterfall on your left. Head up the river right side of the creek angling away from the small waterfall to get to the top. Initially the land is relatively flat but as you push upstream, you’re going to take on some elevation change. I crossed the creek when river right got too steep and walked the creek when the side-hill on the left was getting challenging. This is one of those where you need to pick the route best suited to your hiking preferences. What I can say is, if you keep to the creek you will get to the falls. The going will be slow as you alternate between creek-walking and bushwhacking. This was another of my November hikes and even so the briers were merciless.
Again the crisp blue November sky added to the setting but on a cloudy day in the fall or winter photography will be a problem.