Accessibility – Hard
Height – 40′ (2 drops)
Distance – 5.1 (out and back)
Beauty – 7
Photo rating – 7
Solitude – 8
GPS Info: LAT 35.42075 LONG -82.71696
Last Updated – 08-09-2019
Bee Branch Falls is a great waterfall about 1.5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway as the crow flies and 2.5 miles by hike. The route follows the Big Creek Trail for 2.3 miles and a narrow side path that is overgrown in places the final 0.2 to the falls. The falls is about 40 over two distinct drops very close together. While not a hike for everyone due to the long uphill trek out, those that want a little more adventure than a walk to Skinny-Dip Falls to a waterfall they will likely have to themselves, this is a worthwhile stop.
The trailhead is located at the South end of the Little Pisgah Tunnel on the Blue Ridge Parkway near MP407. There was a brown carsonite post near the trailhead but no sign indicating this is the start of the Big Creek Trail. If you are heading North on the Parkway the parking is just before you enter the tunnel on the East side of the roadway. Heading South on the Parkway it will be on your left as you come out of the tunnel.
The hike stars heading parallel to the parkway on a gentle ascent through the upper section of the trail. This part is overgrown and you will have to push through some tall foliage for a short time before the trail enters the canopy and the ground cover abates. At the about the same time the trail begins its long downhill run the encroaching brush goes away. The trail is in decent shape, not too rocky and very easy to follow as it goes through a series of switchbacks.
After 1.9 miles of continual descent the Big Creek Trail will come to a T. Make a left and follow the now almost level trail downstream toward Bee Branch. Big Creek will be on the left and Bee Branch will be the first stream you have to cross. Once across the Big Creek Trail will continue following Big Creek while a more overgrown path will follow Bee Branch upstream. The path is very soft in places and I found it easier to make my way through the mostly open woods to avoid the boggy areas. The falls is less than 0.2 of a mile from where the spur path left the Big Creek Trail. The final section of the hike was in the creek and getting a decent picture I did have to jockey around on the logs lying across the creek and the open rock near the drop.
All things considered this is a nice stop for those up to the hike and who don’t mind getting a little wet and dirty. The way down isn’t bad but the 2500 feet of climb out in 1.9 miles is going to be taxing. Even if you can’t follow the overgrown path to the falls, as long as you parallel the creek you will get to the falls in time. Considering the usual crowds at so many Parkway attractions, this is a nice break from the crowds.