Accessibility – Moderate+
Height – 25′
Distance – 7.8 miles (out and back)
Beauty – 2
Photo rating – 1
Solitude – 2
GPS Info: LAT 35.91744 LONG -81.74899
First Visit: 09-22-2019
You can reach 4X4 Falls from the Brown Mountain OHV trail system by following Trail #1 for 3.3 miles and branching off on an obvious trail. Most who come to this use a 4X4 to get to this point and hike the rest. Lacking a 4X4 I hiked the whole way in and found it to be an enjoyable experience. Some friends who drove the road said it was a terrifying drive and hiking it only took about 20 minutes longer than driving. There were places on the road that I actually hiked past vehicles trying to climb the steep and uneven terrain. With so much of the hike on a wide open road, I made good time, covering the 7.75 miles in 2.5 hours.
Traihead directions: Regardless of your direction of travel, take NC181. If you are coming South you will make a left onto Brown Mountain Beach Road. Heading North you will make a right. Follow Brown Mountain Beach Road for 3.7 miles to the entrance to the Brown Mountain OHV Trail System and make a left. The entrance road leads 1.6 miles to a large paved parking area.
The Hike: Begin the hike on Trail #1 right around this point 35.89775 -81.75624. You are going to follow this trail (logging road) for 3.3 miles as it gains 1100 feet in elevation. This is a 4X4 road so use caution. I was passed by dirt bikes, 4X4s, SUVs, ATVs and three-wheelers so there is no telling but they are likely not looking for you since this is not an easy road to drive. There are very few landmarks and on any given weekend day the sound of gunning engines will fill the air.
At 3.3 miles the road tops out when it begins to swing around a ridge to the left. Just before the sharp cut back to the left, an obvious path heads to the right. It looks like a route used by dirt bikes although I didn’t see any using this trail on my visit. The trail will split in 0.1 of a mile and at this point (35.91794 -81.75196) head to the right. The woods are open and easy to navigate. It isn’t until you get closer to the falls than the ground gets steeper. From where the trail splits it is less 0.25 of a mile to the base of the falls.
I made my way down following a dry drainage, which seemed fitting since the waterfall was also dry. It was unimpressive but I did like the hike.