Accessibility – Moderate+
Height: Approx 60′ (two distinct drops)
Distance – 3.0 miles (out and back)
Beauty – 7
Photo rating – 6
Solitude – 8
GPS Info: LAT 35.32267 LONG -82.81477
Last updated – 11/18/2018
Note: The logging operation along FR5043 but the mess remains. Not sure what they accomplished along this stretch other than to make a mess.
Upper Logging Road Falls is an impressive 60-foot waterfall located on the same creek as Logging Road Falls. As the crow flies the falls is less than a third of a mile upstream but the hike from the lower to the upper is closer to a mile and it includes a lot of elevation gain. The falls drops in two distinct sections and from the base of the lower part you can’t even see the upper section. This was surprising since my visit was in mid-November and the trees were mostly barren. Getting to the lower drop is much easier than getting to the upper, which requires a very steep bank scramble on an unstable hillside littered with downfall and briers. The upper section is very unique and I found it worth the effort. Sadly there isn’t a great vantage to photograph it. You’re going to have to make up your own mind on whether you wanna climb up there to see it.
From the intersection of US64/NC280/US276 in Brevard, follow 276 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. FR475B connects with 475 not to far from the fish hatchery but at certain times of the year the access gate at FR475 is closed to you might want to check at the ranger station for potential road closures or you could end up doing a lot of backtracking. From the intersection with US276 drive 1.6 miles. This is a gravel road with frequent turnouts to provide for two way traffic. On my recent visit the roadbed was in good shape. You will get some winter views of Looking Glass Rock before you reach the gated FR5043. FR5043 will be on the right at the apex of a hairpin turn to the left. Make sure to park so as to not block the gate.
Quick aside. The Waterfall on Log Hollow was my first waterfall that required a drive down a logging grade and for this experience, I wasn’t prepared. This trip was before my 2012 Nissan Xterra arrived on the scene so I made the white-knuckle drive down 475B in a 2007 Saturn Ion. I had never been on a road like this, much less in a car not designed for such a thing. I couldn’t get that car far enough away from the steep side. That was the day that 475B became my then 4-year-old daughter’s, favorite road. The 1.6 miles felt like 50, nonetheless we reached the gated FR5043 and what is the first thing we see? An older gentleman with a copy of Kevin Adams’ North Carolina Waterfalls in his hand. My wife and I still joke about it since we had our copy in her backpack!
The hike starts beyond the gate and follows the gentle meanderings of FR5043. At 0.25 of a mile from the gate you will come to an over-engineered bridge that reeks of creosote. The trail to Discovery Falls heads upstream from the trailhead side of the bridge. In another 0.25 of a mile you will reach a second bridge and a view of Log Hollow Falls. The road will swing to the left and back to the right as it enters the next drainage. As the road reaches the apex of the next switchback you will see the hundred foot high Logging Road Falls sliding down the mountain. Below are pics of Log Hollow and Logging Road Falls on my November 2018 visit.
From discovery falls the road heads to the left before entering a 180 degree right hand turn. As you enter the next drainage, keep your eye out on the right for a trail heading up the bank. If you don’t see the trail, look for the telltale straight line that indicates an old logging road. If you can’t find this, the GPS coordinates where I left the trail are 35.32024 -82.81172. The trail ascends to the overgrown roadbed and makes a left heading up the ridge. The grade is steep and as you ascend you will hear falling water off to the right. You are climbing the grade next to Logging Road Falls and if you want to catch a glimpse you can branch off to the right. Once you reach the top of the climb, you will enter Hemlock Hell, a flat area of small dead hemlocks. Remain on the top of the ridge while paralleling the creek. You will stay on the top of the ridge until you see the falls off to the right. Angle down toward the creek and you will come out at the base of the falls.
As you’re approaching the falls you will see the upper and lower drops split by a band of rhodos but by the time you get to the base of the lower, you will not a see a thing of the upper section. I shot the lower from the river right, which was straight on and from the river left in a partial profile. There were a lot of leaves on the rocks and fallen trees that added to the setting. As far as the upper section. I crossed the creek and went straight up the hill, staying away from the falls as much as possible. The ground was covered in leaves and loose rock so use extreme caution. When I came to large tree at the top I was able to parallel the rock wall to a profile view of the upper drop.
Two shots of the lower section, one of the steep grade and two of the upper drop
This hike is not kid friendly and the average tourist probably won’t care for the steep grade. The elevation changes on FR5043 are sedate but not the push to the falls. The logging road is wide but it is used as a mountain bike trail so use caution. For a second time a mountain biker snuck up on me!