Accessibility – Moderate+
Height – 25′
Distance – 1.4 mile (out and back)
Beauty – 5
Photo rating – 3
Solitude – 10
GPS Info: LAT 35.37506 LONG -82.78209
First visit: 11-26-2017
Most recent visit: 02-24-2020
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. Like many areas in Pisgah that are off the main trail, the blowdown is thick and the briers unrelenting.
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. On my first visit I spent more than an hour cleaning up the area and since that time others have followed suit, turning this once overgrown waterfall into a decent enough stop. Ready to go?
To reach the trailhead from take 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. Backtrack about 20 feet and head up the hillside, parallel to the creek but maintaining some distance. Stay on river right and about 20-25 feet above the creek you will find an worn but obvious path upstream.
Initially the land is relatively flat but as you push upstream, you’re going to take on some elevation change. What I can say is, if you keep above the creek as long as possible ou will get to the falls and likely have it to yourself. The going will be slow in places and there are some briers to contend with as well as fallen trees. I have done this hike three times, Nov 2017, Nov 2019 and Feb 2020. It gets easier every time but the briers are merciless.
I have a pic of a rainy Feb day in 2020 and a clear November day in 2017. It doesn’t even look like the same waterfall in the two pics. I ventured well above this one but I didn’t find any additional falling water but about 200 feet upstream I did get a 4G signal!