572 – Rocky Knob Falls

Accessibility – Difficult

Height – 20′

Distance – 3.2 Miles (out and back)

Beauty – 1

Photo rating – 1

Solitude – 10

GPS Info: LAT 35.28097 LONG -82.98866

Last Updated – 07-04-2019

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Rocky Knob Falls is an 20 foot high waterfall on a tributary of Charley’s Creek that is very likely the least appealing waterfall of any I’ve visited recently. Very few waterfalls go in the “never again” category but Rocky Knob Falls does. It’s not to say it doesn’t have potential but since the left bank of the forest above the falls collapsed across the base of the falls, the view kind of stinks. As a matter of fact, my picture was taken standing on top of the fallen trees. While the falls isn’t very nice, the hike blows due to an abundance of stinging nettle on both logging roads plus tons of downfall. Unless you’re doing the KA500 list or just like dreadful hikes to cluttered waterfalls, I’m not sure why you would do this one. You can combine it with Charleys Creek Falls to mitigate the worthlessness of the overall hike but you will be hard pressed to justify hiking to this one.

Enough commentary, lets get you on your way!

The pullout for Rocky Knob Falls is the same as for Charley’s Creek Falls. The access is located on Charleys Creek Road between NC281 and NC215. There is a small pull out on the NC215 side of the bridge over Charleys Creek. If you’re heading toward NC281 it will be on the right and this is also the trailhead. If yo’re coming from NC281 the pullout is on the left just after you cross the creek. To get to the bridge coming from NC215, follow Charleys Creek Road for 6.75 miles to the pullout on the right before crossing the bridge. If you’re coming from NC281, the bridge is just under 4 miles down Charleys Creek Road on the left.

The hike begins at the upper end of the pullout where an old logging grade enters the woods. The end of the road is blocked by several dirt mounds but once past those the grade is easy to follow as it heads upstream. A silt barrier on the left will lead the way for a time before the trail reaches the first intersection. At less than 0.1 of a mile the road forks. Stay right, heading uphill. At 0.25 from the trailhead the trail forks again. This time stay to the left on the more established trail. At 0.65-0.7 from the trailhead you will come to a third fork, go right. The road to the left is severely overgrown while the right branch is obviously more traveled. Just under half a mile from the third fork a road comes in from the right. At this point make a left and cross the creek. Since a tree has fallen across this intersection, the GPS for where to head to the creek is: 35.28157, -82.98538.

NOTE: If you miss the turn, the overgrown road will eventually bring you to the creek and you can cross there. Which is what we did on the way in.

On the far side, head up a small drainage and exit the creek. It is badly overgrown but if you push through at the start you will come to another overgrown logging grade heading upstream.  Initially the grade is easy to follow but as you venture further from the creek crossing the trail begins to erode and there is more downfall to contend with. It is no more than 0.25 of a mile from the crossing to the falls but it will feel like a hundred miles as the entire stretch is covered in wood nettle. I cut a path through it but it was brutal going. As you near Charley’s Creek Falls another overgrown road cuts sharply back to the left. This is the way to Rocky Knob. This one isn’t covered in nettle but there is some downfall to negotiate along the way. Follow this road for 0.3 of a mile until it ends just above the creek. Head down the bank and turn upstream. There is a nice 6 foot drop at this point.

The hike to this point has been awful and it is about to get worse. Head steeply up the hill on river right to pass the six foot drop. The way is choked with downfall from the half dozen tress that fell from the other side of the creek. You just have to suffer through it an inch at a time. I finally climbed onto the trees and took a few pics. I didn’t bother with a tripod since I was eight feet off the ground perched on a log.

Just a little FYI: I hiked to Charley’s Creek in September of 2018 and the road was barely passable. It was ten times worse in July of 2019. I suspect in another year or two this road will be completely overgrown and the creek will be the way to go. The last remnants of the path consumed by the dog-hobble and wood-nettle.

Another FYI: If you look on a map you will see that a road runs all the way to Rocky Knob Falls. I looked for the road and what I found wouldn’t constitute a road. I have no idea if the lower portion of this road is passable but the part by Rocky Knob Falls was more overgrown than the surrounding forest.

The lower cascade below Rocky Knob Falls – July 2019
Rocky Knob Falls as seen from atop of fallen tree – July 2019

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