Accessibility – Moderate
Height – 30′
Distance – 3.8 (out and back)
Beauty – 9
Photo rating – 8
Solitude – 7
GPS Info: LAT 36.00050 LONG -81.80835
First visit: 03-23-2019
Bard Falls is a 30 foot high waterfall on North Harper Creek. The falls is at a point where the rock squeezes the creek into a narrow channel at the top of the falls, forcing it through a slot littered with huge potholes.
Trailhead Directions: There are a lot of ways to reach the trailhead, probably the easiest is to enter it into Google Maps. If not, from the intersection of NC183 and NC181, follow NC181 North for 0.8 of a mile and make a right onto Pittmans Gap Road. The name of the road will change several times before it reaches Mortimer Road in about a mile. Make a left (more stay straight). Follow Mortimer Road for 0.4 of a mile to a stop sign and make a right to stay on Mortimer Rd. Long Ridge Missionary Baptist Church is at the intersection. Mortimer road will split after about half mile. Stay to the right onto Old Mortimer Rd. At 2.1 miles from the stop sign (2.5 from when you got onto FR464) you will pass FR58.
FR58 provides access to North Harper Creek Falls and South Harper Creek Falls. After 4.0 miles you will pass the turn onto FR464A for Upper Little Lost Cove Falls and Little Lost Cove Falls. In another 1.7 miles you will reach the trailhead for Bard Falls.
The hike: From the parking area on Pineola Road, take the North Harper Shortcut Trail from the parking area. The trail is off the left side of the road and follows a continual descent for one mile until dead-ending into the North Harper Creek Trail. Make a left onto the North Harper Creek Trail and start following the creek downstream. After 0.3 of a mile the trail crosses the creek. When I went there was no way to cross without wading and if the water was high, this might be a very dangerous thing to try. From the crossing the trail will keep losing elevation for another half a mile until you reach the base of the falls.
To get to the base of the falls it will be easiest to pass the falls and follow a small drainage from the trail to the side of the creek and the exposed rock below. On the way out you need to be careful not to miss the North Harper Shortcut Trail. There are no indicators so you need to remember to be on the lookout. I dropped a GPS waypoint at 36.00049, -81.81686 to make sure I didn’t miss it.