Accessibility – Moderate
Height – 50′
Distance – 6.8 miles (out and back)
Beauty – 7
Photo rating – 5
Solitude – 8
GPS Info: LAT 35.08290 LONG -82.73850
First Visit: 03-01-2020
Most recent visit 04-18-2020
Jane Cantrell Falls is located in Headwaters State Forest in North Carolina, just over the SC state line. Unlike other waterfalls in the park, this one is relatively unknown but the hike is easy enough if you pay attention to the various turns and intersections. There are a lot of old roads in this area and they all start to look the same so you need to have an idea of where you are going. I will provide GPS to the main intersections that play a part in this hike.
The falls is about 50-60 feet high but there is no way to see all of it from one place. The base of the falls gives a good view of the lowest two drops and climbing to the ledge between these drops doesn’t provide a better view of what lies above but it is a great place.
Trailhead directions: The trailhead is unmarked but can be identified by a wooden bridge and a kiosk. Parking is along Glady Fork Road and the gravel pullout is 1.0 miles from the intersection with Glady Fork Road and Sassafras Mountain Road. If you’re coming from Rocky Bottom, make a left right before the gate on Sassafras Mountain Road and the trailhead will be 1.0 miles down on your right. Coming from Rosman, and Brevard, the trailhead is on the left, 3.1 miles from the intersection of Glady Fork Road and East Fork Road.
The hike: Cross the wooden bridge and head toward the kiosk. There is a fallen tree here that wasn’t there on my first visit. Like about half a dozen more, this one came down in a storm in Mid-April. Head up the hill to the right past the kiosk. The road is going to keep climbing as it meanders along. There are a lot of recently fallen trees on the road but I did cut a path through to make it easier. You will pass a lot of obvious and not-so-obvious intersections along the way but you want to stay on the main road for 1.2 miles until an obvious road comes in on the left. The GPS for this spot is 35.07844, -82.75386.
Make a left at this intersection and continue up the hill on this somewhat rockier section of logging road. This rocky section will climb and swing around a gradual ridge before it splits. Make a left and continue up the ridge through the sharp left switchback and then a switchback to the right at the top. An old road that is really overgrown will head off to the left. Ignore this and follow the road to an intersection with the Foothills Trail. It is easy to miss but there are enough colored dots that it isn’t hidden. I have done the hike both ways and it doesn’t much matter which way you go but my directions follow the Foothills Trail. The trail meets the road at 35.08196 -82.75092.
The Foothills Trail is easy to follow and if blazed with blue hashes on trees. The path will be mostly downhill for the next 0.7 of a mile where the Foothills Trail and the logging road converge If you stay on the Foothills Trail you will go over Bigspring Mountain, which we did on the way out, there is no view. If you want to avoid the extra up and down hill you can cross the 10 feet of woods and rejoin the logging road. The point is obvious but in case it isn’t, here is the GPS. 35.07806, -82.74168.
Now back on the logging road, it will ascend briefly, to where it makes a hard left to get around a ridge. After the hard left it will gradually bend around Bigspring Mountain and connect back to the Foothills Trail. The road continues to the left but the Foothills Trail is to the right. Follow the blue-blazed trail as it begins to descend more steeply along the border of SC and NC. The land to your right is SC and to the right NC. After a steep section the trail will bend back hard to the left and come to a junction that you need to find.
Off to the right the foothills trail climbs straight up some unnamed mountain. You don;t want this. The road you are on will begin paralleling the right side of an overgrown drainage. You don’t want this either. A faint path goes left and parallels the left side of the ditch. You want this one. The path is narrow but obvious as it swings into the Jane Cantrell drainage. The first section is easy to follow and as you get closer to the falls you will notice that someone has been in here doing some trail maintenance. You’re welcome. The terrain to the right is really overgrown and steep so you want to stay left until you come to the only real hurdle on this hike.
There is a muddy rock shelf about four feet high to climb down. There are enough rhodos that you can make it safely but you might get dirty. You can head up and to the left above the rock to get the middle section but it is a steep sidehill hike. I did cut a path but you better be sure of yourself before you head up here. Once down the rock, you have to decend steely for the last 20 feet to the base of the falls. You are close to the falls so it is hard to get much of it in without a wide angle lens.
Reverse the route to get out. I plan to do more exploring in this area. There are so many roads and creeks.