418 – Bull Cove Falls

Accessibility – Moderate+ (due to creek crossings)

Height – 40′

Distance – 2.0 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 5

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 6

GPS Info: LAT 35.00297 LONG -83.54270

Last Updated – 01-26-2019


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Bull Cove Falls is one of two major waterfalls on this section of the Beech Creek Trail, the other being High Falls. If you’re going to drive over to this part of North Carolina, you will want to combine these two waterfalls into a single hike to avoid a return trip. Doing the two falls in a single outing is going to require a round trip hike of 5.2 miles with almost 1800 feet of elevation gain. Almost the entire hike is on Beech Creek Trail (Blue Blazed #378) with only the scramble to High Falls and the side path to Bull Cove taking off the main trail. Although a numbered trail it isn’t well marked and the creek crossings are going to be rock hops or wades depending on water level. In all there are three major crossings, two of Beech Creek and one of Bull Cove. My visit was during the winter after some rain so we had several minor crossings and icy rocks to contend with as well.

hike#1
My GPS track of the 5.2 mile round trip – January 2019

The biggest problem with this hike is it isn’t close to anything. As a matter of fact the only way to reach this part of North Carolina is by driving through Georgia as it can not be accessed from the rest of the state without leaving NC. Depending on your direction of travel you will want to end up on US76. Coming from Franklin you would head East on US76 and make a right on Persimmon Road. Coming from Clayton Ga (the way I drove in) take US76 West to Persimmon Road and make a left. Follow Persimmon Road 4.1 miles and make a left onto Tallulah River Road. There are signs for camping posted at the intersection so it is easy to spot but in this day and age, you should be using Maps or Waze anyway. Tallulah River Road starts out paved but after 1.5 miles the pavement ends. The unpaved portion wasn’t to unruly and it is very scenic as the road mirrors the Tallulah River. Along the way the name of the road changes to Tate City Road. The numbering of the road is going to change as well as it becomes FR70 and finally FR56. There are three campgrounds and a dozen fishing pullouts along the road as well as houses so be careful. The forest service campground is year round and there are bathrooms there. Just over 7.5 miles down Tate City Road the Beech Creek Trailhead is on the right. It’s barely a mile into NC. A parking area is on the left.

From the parking area cross Tate City Road and began the hike at the carsonite sign marked #378 Beech Creek Trail. The trail is blue blazed but the blazes are faded and hard to spot but the trail is obvious. After the long drive to get here the trail up the hill is going to have your blood pumping immediately as from the start is it climbs the hill steeply. This initial segment is 0.2 of a mile and you will pick up several hundred feet of elevation. The trail crests the hill and descends moderately to Beech Creek. This moderate descent will be the only uphill section on the way back. At the creek the trail crosses. You can rock hop of use the jumble of piled logs to make your way across.  The trail goes left (upstream on the other side). The trail shifts to an old logging grade where you turn to the left. There was a rock cairn and some logs across the right turn. Be sure to turn onto the path on your way back. The road follows Beech Creek on a mostly level grade for nearly half a mile to a crossing of Bull Cove Creek. It was an icy rock hop on my visit but with lower water this would be an easy one. After crossing an obvious path turns to the right to reach the falls.

Bull Cove Falls is around 40 feet high and falls in two drops. The water was up and everything around the base was covered in ice, making for an amazing setting. We reached the falls very early so the sun wasn’t an issue even with the trees barren. In the summer this area looks like it stays pretty shady but lighting could present a photographic challenge later in the day with the leaves off. Bull Cove Falls is very nice but of the four waterfalls I visited on my trip, it ranked as #4. If you’re going to do the entire hike I did, this should tell you what you’re in store for the rest of the way. If you’re going to High Falls, click here. If you’re going home, head back the way you came.

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