534 – Big Bearpen Falls

Accessibility – Moderate+ Bushwhack/Scramble

Height: Approx 25′

Distance – 0.4 miles RT from FR475B

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 6

GPS Info: LAT 35.31742 LONG -82.79948

Last Visit – 11-07-2020

Last updated – 02-27-2022

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Big Bearpen Falls is a 25 foot high waterfall on Big Bearpen Creek. The waterfall is located about 200 feet below the FR475B roadbed, three tenths of a mile from where FR475B crosses the creek on a one lane bridge. There is a campsite by the bridge and this is the easiest place to park. Walk the road back to the point where you will begin the decent. You can also follow the creek downstream from the campsite on a horribly overgrown road but this is way harder.

Trailhead GPS: 35.31776 -82-80528

Trailhead Drive: 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 so you could come up from the bottom too. From the intersection with US276 drive 2.7 miles to the wide area just past the one-lane bridge and park. 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.

The hike: walk up FR475B toward US276 for 0.3 of a mile to this point, 35.31793, -82.80051 and look for the easiest way off the roadbed. It is very steep for the first few feet. Angle downstream. You can hear the waterfall on your right and on the way to the base, you are going to pass near the top of the falls. When the leaves are of you can see the brink of the falls. It is wildly overgrown but there are the faint remains of a road paralleling the creek. You can use it for a time to head downstream. To get around the cliffs, the best route is to come out downstream of the falls and follow the creek up to the base. There is a lot of open rock to walk on in normal flows and I got here with my feet dry in summer conditions.

The scramble is about 0.2 of a mile from FR475B to the base and it drops about 200 feet. The safest way to do this one is to error on the side of coming out further downstream. It’s going to be thick either way but the cliffs by the falls are going to prevent coming out too close to the base.