Accessibility – Moderate+
Height: Approx 30′-35′ (cluttered)
Distance – 3.6 (out and back)
Beauty – 5
Photo rating – 5
Solitude – 7
GPS Info: LAT 35.31924 LONG -82.82413
First Visit: 12/12/2020
Upper Big Bearpen Falls is a 35 foot high waterfall on the upper reaches of Big Bearpen Creek. The waterfalls drops over a small ledge before snaking down down a dark rock face and vanishing behind a pile of clutter. The hike is pretty easy and if you combine it with the waterfall in the next drainage, it’s a nice little adventure with some of it being off-trail.
The Trailhead: 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. From the intersection with US276 drive 3.2 miles (passing the TH for Log Hollow Falls) and make a right onto FR225. The road was in very good shape on my visit in December 2020. Half a mile from FR475B, the gated FR5045 intersects on the right. Make sure you are on FR5045 and not FR5044 which intersects at 0.4 from FR475B. Park close to FR225 without blocking the gate.
The hike: Begin the hike on FR5045, which will climb from the gate and swing around in a long sweeping left turn to get you to the other side of Bennett Knob. Once you are around Bennett Knob, the road is pretty flat and open thanks to this being a mountain biking route. At 0.8 miles the road is going to fork. I went up the hill to the left but you could just as easily make a right and connect back. I have no idea if the junction you would need to find is marked or not. In another 0.4 miles FR5045 crosses with the other trail again. Remain on the road. The road will swing into the Big Bearpen Drainage and cross Big Bearpen Creek in another 0.3 of a mile.
To get to the falls, continue a few paces past the creek and look for an easy spot to climb the bank into the woods. There is a lot of downfall here so it’s going to be an erratic route. If you stay away from the creek you will miss the spot where the creek splits and end up on an unnamed tributary. This is fine since this is the best way to get to the falls. Stay with the creek to your left until you come to an old roadbed. Once you are on the road, make a left, cross the unnamed trib and head toward Upper Big Bearpen Falls, which you can see pretty easily from here. The woods were open on my December visit and there was enough water that the falls looked decent. I worked on the clutter pile but it’s going to need a lot more work! I found a large boulder on the river left side of the creek that made a nice photo vantage.
If you enjoyed this adventure, you can add another waterfall by returning to the unnamed trib and heading up the river right side (between the two streams). The woods will be open until you are close to the falls, which you will not be able to see because there is a solid wall of rhodo. You will have to get into the creek at this point and cover the last 25 feet or so in the creek bed. Couldn’t find any info on it so I’m going with the name Rough Rock Falls. If you want more adventure, when you get back to your car, keep driving up FR225 for another 1.2 miles and you will reach FR225 Falls, which is next to the road. You’ll likely never been so close again.