waterfall 2 on Basin Creek
7-1-15 If you want a full day hike along a beautiful mountain stream with cascades, small waterfalls, and a historic old cabin, this is a great hike for you. The Caudill Cabin is at the end of the 6 mile (one way) hike and you'll also pass several stone chimneys along the way. The first waterfall is about 3 miles into the hike and is about 20' high. You can see it from the trail, but getting to the base requires a wade and rock hop up the creek. The second waterfall (shown above) is 5 miles into the hike. The best view of it is also from the trail, but you can scramble down to creek level for a better view and to cool off on a hot summer day. The hike is moderate to strenuous - the strenuous part being that it's 12 miles round trip. There's also an elevation gain of about 1,500' - but it's gradual if that makes you feel any better - and a lot of creek crossings.
Directions: From the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Doughton Park at MP248, exit on to Hwy 18 and head towards North Wilksboro. Drive 6.2 miles on Hwy 18 and turn left on to Longbottom Rd. Drive 6.5 miles, cross a small concrete bridge and immediately turn right into a dirt parking area. This also serves as a parking are for horse trailers, so make sure they have plenty of room to turn around. The trail begins directly across the road and is the gated gravel road. Older directions and the 'official' Blue Ridge Parkway map shows part of Longbottom Rd being gravel before you get to the parking area, but that's wrong. It looks like there has been some road work in the last year or so and it is now all paved.
The trail begins as the Grassy Gap Fire Rd and even though this is a fairly good distance off of the Parkway, it is considered part of Doughton Park. In a very short distance, pass the Cedar Ridge Trail on the right. Basin Creek is on your left as you hike along this road and not too far past the Cedar Ridge Trail intersection, you'll see an old dam with a man made waterfall. The road continues following the creek and stays fairly level. You'll cross a small tributary of Basin Creek that comes in from the right, then get to the first crossing of Basin Creek. We were here during 'normal' water flow and were able to cross on the rocks, but I have read trip reports from others that say you may have to get your feet wet if the creek is up. Just past this crossing is a really nice primitive camping area. There are several sites - reservation only - and each has a bear box to store food.
Continue past the camping area and look for the Basin Creek Trail to split off to the right. The trail narrows into a well worn path from here and continues to follow Basin Creek. Pass a small cascade and begin a fairly steep ascent. When the trail levels out, you may notice this cascade on the right. We left the trail here, went down and sat a spell.
small cascade on Basin Creek
Back on the trail, we soon passed an old chimney on the left. It's set back off the trail and would be easy to miss if you weren't looking for it. Keep going and cross the creek at about 3 miles in. From here up to the cabin the trail crosses the creek at least a dozen times, so I quit counting and am not going to mention every one of them. Most were easy crossings, but be careful of slippery rocks! At about 3.5 miles, the trail crosses the creek at some nice smaller cascades. We took a break here to do some shooting and to eat a snack. The next photo is the cascade just up from the crossing.
small cascade on Basin Creek
When you cross the creek and continue up the trail, you'll soon see a larger waterfall down on your right. There's no way to safely get down from here, so if you want to see it you'll have to go back to the crossing and wade and rock hop up the creek. Don't attempt this if you've never done anything like this before. If you are used to this type of activity, head up the right side of the creek, then up to the rock wall on the right. From here, kind of head back towards the creek. You'll then have to climb up the smaller cascade and these rocks are slippery. You'll come out at the base of the falls for this view.
waterfall 1 on Basin Creek
The waterfall is 15-20' high - I thought it was worth the effort to scramble up to see it. You'll have to back track to get back to the trail. When you pass the top of the waterfall on the trail, you'll notice where people have scrambled down for a closer look, but don't attempt to climb down the waterfall from here! Once past this area, cross the creek once again, then cross a side stream and look for 2 chimneys on the right side of the trail. Keep going, keep crossing the creek, and at 5 miles into the hike pass by another 15' waterfall on the left. The best view is from the trail, but this nice falls is just begging you to come down for a closer look. You might even be tempted to take a dip on a hot summer day - we did. This waterfall is the one at the top of this page. If all you came for is the waterfalls, you're done and can head back to your vehicle. If you want to see Caudill Cabin also, you have another mile to go. The trail ends at the cabin which can also be seen from the Wildcat Rocks overlook back up at Doughton Park on the Parkway. There is no way to get up there from down here, so you have to retrace your path for 6 miles back down to your vehicle. Below is a shot of the Caudill Cabin and a video of the waterfalls on the creek.
Falling Water on Basin Creek from Rich Stevenson on Vimeo.
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