359 – Kings Creek Falls

Accessibility – Medium+

Height – Approx 40′

Distance – 6.6 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 4

Photo rating – 3

Solitude – 10

GPS Info: LAT 35.25782 LONG -82.775343

Last Updated: 11-04-2018

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Kings Creek Falls is on Kings Creek about a tenth of a mile below Saxifrage Falls. It is a 40 foot falls but due to the access, only a portion is visible from the base and this section is a collection point for dead hemlocks. While not worth a special trip due to the distance, this falls can be combined with Saxifrage falls for a serious adventure that will mix in a lot of elevation gain and some steep scrambling. Much of the of the hike, 6.5 miles of it are on easily followed trails. Like Saxifrage Falls the final scramble is difficult and it did involve some wading close to the falls.

Getting to either of these falls requires a long uphill hike to Cat Gap and then a mile downhill to the falls. On the way back it will be a mile uphill to get to Cat Gap and two miles down to the parking area at the fish hatchery. You can approach getting to the trail to Saxifrage Falls in a lot of different ways. I’m going to recount the way I went but this is by no means the only way to get there. You can combine this hike with a trip to the Summit of John Rock or with the Waterfall on Cedar Rock Creek or both or neither.

To get to the parking area at the fish hatchery from the intersection of US64/US276/NC280 in Brevard, follow US276 5.3 miles to the split with 475. Make a left on 475 and follow it for 1.3 miles to the fish hatchery. The entrance is on the left. Once you pull into the parking lot, head to the left. Park down toward the kiosk at the end of the lot furthest from the buildings. The hike will begin at the kiosk following the Cat Gap Loop Trail. The trail blaze is orange and it is well marked. The starting point would be the same is you were going to hike John Rock clockwise on the Cat Gap Loop Trail.

The Cat Gap Loop Trail enters the woods and follows a level path along the meandering Davidson River. Along this section there are multiple campsites and side paths. Stay on the main path, crossing a footbridge. The trail will start to pick up some elevation after the second foot bridge. There had been a lot of rain so parts of this trail were soggy. As the incline steepens the trail will come to a fork. The yellow blazed John Rock Trail will go to the right. Stay on the Cat Gap Loop Trail as it climbs steeply at this point. This point is just over a mile from the trailhead. The next intersection you come to will be the other end of the John Rock Trail as well as the Cat Gap Bypass Trail. The John Rock Trail goes up and to the right and the Cat Gap Bypass straight. Stay to the left to remain on the Cat Gap Loop Trail. This is the steepest section as the trail climbs to a convergence with the Art Loeb Trail.

When you get to the intersection of the two trails, there are a total of five paths. The one you came up, to the left is the Art Loeb Trail, across the Art Loeb Trail is the unsigned trail to Saxifrage Falls. This used to be trail #124 but it is no longer maintained. If you made a right and walked past this trail you would see the continuation of the Cat Gap Loop Trail and the Art Loeb Trails. All of the trails are signed with the exception of the one that mirrors Kings Creek. The trail descends from the convergence with Cat Gap Loop Trail and comes to an intersection with FR475C. Make a left onto FR475C and follow this a short distance to an old signpost on the right. A trail enters the woods here. This is the one you want. The section near FR475C is overgrown and covered in downfall so the trail will be hard to follow in places. Once through this area, the trail is easy to follow and well-defined.

Kings Creek will be on your right but it is heavily overgrown and hard to see. At a mile from the Cat Gap Loop Trail you will hear Saxifrage Falls on your right. Keep heading past the falls on the overgrown trail. You will lose about 100 feet in elevation between Saxifrage Falls and Kings Creek Falls. There is no one place to head down the steep bank to reach the creek. I found a spot that looked good to me and we plunged down the hill. A friend I was hiking with took a different route, following the trail down until it was even with the creek and then chasing the creek up to the falls. On my route, I did have to cross the creek and push through the rhodos on the other side to get close to the falls. At this point it was shoes off, barefoot wading up to the base of the falls.

The water was thigh deep in places and on a 55 degree day it wasn’t pleasant walking the creek barefoot to the falls. There is a nice overhanging cliff on river right and an island of sorts on river left. About the only good photo spot I could find was between the cliff and the island. There was a lot of downfall at the base so be warned.

Kings Creek Falls – November 2018
Leaves and logs on Kings Creek Falls – November 2018

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