Accessibility – Moderate
Height: Approx 70′
Distance – 1.1 miles (out and back)
Beauty – 7
Photo rating – 8
Solitude – 6
GPS Info: LAT 35.72099 LONG -82.37459
Last updated – 10/13/2018
Douglas Falls is a 70 foot high free-falling waterfall about half a mile from where FR74 comes to an end. The hike to the falls is easy enough, with the course relatively flat albeit very rocky. The falls was looking good on our visit thanks to about four inches of rain earlier in the week from Hurricane Michael. I venture to say that the water flow usually will not look like this. Douglas Falls can be combined with Walker Falls, a roadside waterfall on FR74 as well as half a dozen smaller rodside waterfalls on FR74 to make for a great family friendly day.
To reach Walker Falls you can take FR63 from the access road to the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area, however on my early fall visit the road was gated, making for a long drive to get to the falls. I don’t know if FR63 is going to be reopened any time soon so keep this in mind. Instead of a 3 mile drive down FR63 to reach FR74 we had a nearly 20 mile roundabout route to get to FR74. From NC197 in Barnardsville, take Dillingham Road. If you’re heading East you will be making a left. At 3.5 miles you’ll pass FR63, which was also gated on the lower end on my visit and at 4.8 miles you’ll cross a small bridge. Once across the road turns to gravel. It is 4.2 miles along FR74 before you reach Walker Falls, which will be on the left. From Walker Falls it is another 4.7 miles until the road ends at the trailhead.
On our visit, my Xterra was the only vehicle in the parking area when we set off at a few minutes after 10 a.m. The hike follows a yellow-blazed trail past the carsonite sign at the upper end of the parking area. The route follows a gently undulating course over rocky terrain. With the storm run-off still lingering, there were numerous wet areas where small drainage channels were flowing over the trail. The total hike is just under 0.6 miles to where a small trail cuts left heading to the base of the falls. The best frontal view is from the trail but you can scale the bank on river right for profile shots.
If it weren’t 57 degrees we probably would have gone under the falls but that’s going to have to wait for a warmer day. Even so the flow was up and the falls looked great. If you do climb up the bank to shoot in profile, the eroded rock causes the craziest echoes from the falling water.
We consider ourselves lucky that we were able to enjoy this waterfall without anyone else there. I mention this because by the time we got back to the parking area, four other cars had joined my Xterra and on the drive down FR74, we counter ten more cars on their way to the trailhead.