281 – No-Name Cove Falls

Accessibility – Moderate++

Height – 40′

Distance – 1.2 mile (out and back)

Beauty – 4

Photo rating – 3

Solitude – 10

GPS Info: LAT 35.3455 LONG -82.7958

Last Updated – 08-27-2018

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Not exactly easy to reach, No-Name Cove Falls is a 40 foot high waterfall in Pisgah Forest located off of FR475B close to the intersection with US276. The hike is comprised of three sections. The lowest follows a defined trail, the middle section is through an open wildlife clearing and from there, depending on your level of persistence either an awful bushwhack or a walk along a poorly maintained trail that occasionally peters out only to pick up ten feet later on the other side of a fallen hemlock. The last segment of the hike is even steeper and reminded me of my hike to Poundingmill Branch Falls in November of 2017. This is not a hike for the novice and the average tourist will not enjoy this hike and won’t appreciate the waterfall.

Another word of warning. If you pop into the ranger station and ask about No-Name Cove Falls or for that matter Bennett Cove Falls, Cherry Cove Falls or Poundingmill Branch Falls, you’ll 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 Headwaters Road, toke US276 North from the intersection of US64/NC280/US276 in Brevard, follow US276 10.3 miles to the turn for FR475B (Headwaters Road) 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.

Across the trail there is a large wildlife clearing that was recently mowed before my August visit making it easy to walk through. I would dare say that before the mowing this would have been awful since the weeds they left standing were shoulder height! Follow the mow lines to the back corner of the field. On my visit, about halfway from the road to the end of the clearing I passed a large bees nest on the ground, which gave me a shock. This is very common on these clearings so keep an eye out.

At the edge of the field you need to keep heading up the hill. It took some doing but I found a trail not too far into the woods and this made the going much easier. There is a ton of downfall heaped everywhere but thankfully the forest is otherwise open. As you move upstream you’ll see the contour of the land changing. The valley walls converge as you’re funneled toward the creek and a decision. As you near the falls you will see a large bounder in the middle of the creek. You can bypass it one of two way. I climbed into the creekbed and scaled the river left side of the creek to the base of the falls while my hiking partner for this expedition, Spethanie, went up the embankment on river right. In either case, whichever side you start on, will be the side you’re staying on. There is a ton of crap heaped below the falls, making it reminiscent of Poundingmill Branch Falls. The total hike is about 1.2 miles round trip but the bushwhack near the falls makes it seem a lot longer.

The view you’ll get is from close to the falls and not great. The setting is very nice but the scene is far from pristine with dead hemlocks lying everywhere. Like many of the falls in this corner of Pisgah, there isn’t a lot of traffic to keep the trails open and there is no chance the forest service is going to come clear out the deadfall to open up areas they don’t publicize.

Hard to reach, No-Name Cove Falls – August 2018
The falls and the fallen – August 2018

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