Accessibility – Moderate+
Height – 30′
Distance – 1.6 (out and back)
Beauty – 6
Photo rating – 4
Solitude – 7
GPS Info: LAT 35.39272 LONG -82.73837
Last Updated – 11-11-2018
Bradley Creek Falls is a 30 foot high waterfall on the upslope of the Pisgah Ridge between Yellow Gap Road (FR1206) and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The primary drop is along a sloped rock with some smaller drops below and covered leaves and downfall. The hike is going to give you a little bit of everything as it starts on a blazed-trail and ends with a bushwhack, with an overgrown logging road and a few creek crossings mixed in. Less than a mile one way, the hike isn’t terribly difficult if you’re used to off-trail hiking.
To get to the trailhead start from the convergence of US64/NC280/US276 in Brevard and head North on US276 for 11.7 miles to FR 1206, Yellow Gap Rd. The turn is on the right. If you’re coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway the left hand turn onto FR1206 is 3.3 miles from the stop sign at the base of the ramp. FR1206 is a single lane gravel road that sees a lot of traffic in the summer months so watch your speed and don’t be surprised if you have to make use of the turn outs to allow approaching vehicles to pass. It is also popular among mountain bikers so stay alert. Remain on FR1206 for 4.0 miles to where the Orange Blazed Pilot Rock Trail intersects the road. There is a open area on the right across from the trail where you can park.
The trailhead is on the uphill side of the road (the left side as you’re driving to the parking area). The trail is Orange Blazed and not terribly steep. Follow the Pilot Rock Trail for around 0.2 of a mile to an intersection with a gravel logging road. Make a left here on the open roadbed. Before long the vegetation will close in, forcing you to push through it. The road is easy to follow and other than some sporadic downfall in fairly decent shape. Half a mile from the trailhead the logging road will come to a log bridge over a tributary. Cross the creek here. This is where the bushwhack begins. You will want to GPS this location or you will have a devil of a time finding the logging grade for the hike out. This is the location of the log bridge 35.38986 -82.73608. I suggest you tag it in your GPS tracker just in case.
The woods are fairly open as you head away from the tributary toward a crossing of a smaller creek. Unless you’ve done something amiss, Bradley Creek will be on your left. Follow it upstream to a crossing on possibly the biggest fallen hemlock I’ve ever seen. The trunk is easily 4 feet in diameter and it makes for one hell of a bridge over the small creek. Once across, keep the creek on your right as you ascend. The woods will remain open but there are a lot of briers to be warned. Less than 0.1 from the hemlock bridge the creek will bend to the right (your right) and with the leaves off you can see the falls ahead.
You can cross the creek and deal with the downfall on river left or you can sidehill the bank on river right through a field of briers. We did the downfall trek on the way in and the briers on the way out. Personally, the briers were easier. As you get closer to the falls you will have to climb over some boulders and to get a good picture you will have to scramble around on the rocks. Not kid friendly but worth the effort. I doubt many people come to this one and this is a shame since it is a nice waterfall and a fun hike. Sadly my late fall visit came complete with crappy lighting.