534 – Big Bearpen Falls

Accessibility – Moderate+ (steep scramble)

Height – 20′

Distance – 1.0 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 7

Solitude – 5

GPS Info: LAT 35.31742 LONG -82.79948

Last Updated – 01-14-2023

Last Visited – 11-22-2020

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Big Bearpen Falls is a hidden gem, and it will likely remain that way because getting to it sucks. You can come at it from the top, which I have not tried, or you can bushwhack down the mountainside, hit the creek downstream of the falls, and creekwalk up. This has been my approach on my three visits.

The trailhead: There are closer places to park to where I make my descent, but FR475B is narrow and it’s just as easy to park at the large open area by the bridge over Big Bearpen Branch. Do what you gotta do, but this is where I leave the X 35.31774, -82.80539,

The hike: If you parked where I suggest, the entire hike is a mile, mosty of which is on FR475B, From my suggested parking, walk the road toward US276 for 0.3 of a mile. You need to get his part right or there is no telling where you’re going to end up. To make life easier than saying, “look for the best spot to drop off the road to your right,” here are the coordinates of where I made the plunge: 35.31793, -82.80051. The bushwhack down is steep, and you will be off the road for 0.2 of a mile to reach the base of the falls. My descent took me right at the falls, which I could see through the trees. This is when I picked up a wildly overgrown road, which i followed downstream until I was past the falls. When I reached the creek I was downstream, but making my way upstream to the falls wasn’t that hard.

Big Bearpen is not an easy one to reach, so don’t let the distance fool you. The total drop from the road to the creek is about 150 feet but it feels like 500. I do like this waterfall quite a bit, and I’ve never seen anyone around. I’ve spent more than my fair share of hours lying on the rocks near the base. With the falls so close, you can’t even hear the cars passing on FR475B. Reverse the way you got her to get back.