Bennett Cove Falls
7-18-16- If you are tired of the crowds at the more popular waterfalls and have considered exploring off trail, Bennett Cove Falls might be a good waterfall to try. About 1/2 of the 1 mile trek to this waterfall is along a closed grassy forest road, and a lesser path will take you to the creek that the waterfall is on. The rest is through the woods and along the creek is easy to moderate as far as off trail treks go. My friend Bernie Boyer found this waterfalls and several others in 2007 when he was exploring the creeks that come off of the eastern and southern slopes of the Pisgah Ridge. He took me there shortly afterwards, but I never added it here to the site. I went back in July 2016 to get updated conditions and photos, but water levels in this area have been low and there wasn't much water coming over the 40' falls. Kevin Adams talks about these on pages 185-186 in the 3rd edition of his North Carolina Waterfalls book.
Directions: Head north on US276 from the NC280 / US276 / US64 intersection for 10.1 miles and turn left on the gravel FR475B. If you are coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway, drive south on US276 for 4.7 miles and turn right on FR475B. Drive 0.1 miles on FR475B and park on the left at the dispersed camping site. The hike begins at the narrow gravel road (FR5032) on the right directly across from where you park.
I didn't see a sign indicating that the gravel drive across from where you park is FR5032, but that's what the trail map has. (You do have the Pisgah trail map, don't you?) Walk up this road a very short distance and come to a gate. Continue up the grassy road beyond the gate for about 10 minutes (1/2 a mile) to a sharp bend in the road to the right. Just before the bend, look on the left for a faint trail that follows an old logging road. It took me a minute or 2 to find it, but it was very obvious once I found it. Follow this path for less that 1/4 mile to a creek crossing. This is the creek that the waterfalls are on. From here it's mostly a bushwhack up to the waterfalls - a little over 1/4 mile to Bennett Cove Falls. A few yards back from the creek, I spotted a very faint path up through the huckleberry bushes which may have been an old logging grade. I decided to follow it instead of getting in the creek and the going wasn't too bad at first. The path faded and it was just a matter of picking the easiest way forward. I spotted the slide in the next photo and decided to head down for a shot even though the water level was pitifully low. If you don't see this, keep heading up the right side of the creek and you'll see the main waterfall. You may find it easier to get up on the ridge a bit as opposed to being right next to the creek. Just keep the creek in ear's range, not too far out of sight.
The slide is maybe 25' long and would be more impressive with better water flow. I didn't remember it from my 2007 trip - and don't have any pictures - so I'm assuming we didn't stop here. From here it looked like the easiest way to continue was up the left side of the creek, so that's what I did. In another 1/10th of a mile or so, I reached the step waterfall below the main waterfall. I crossed the creek back to the right side below this waterfall. There wasn't an easy way down and there are a lot of downed logs and branches, so I just snapped a quickie shot to show you what they look like. From here I stayed on the right side and climbed the steep bank to get up to the base of Bennett Cove Falls. There are some smaller waterfalls farther up the creek, but I don't think it's worth the effort it takes to get to them. I didn't even get the camera out. They might look better with more water in the creek, but I don't plan on going back, so I'll never know.
step waterfall below Bennett Cove Falls
Bennett Cove Falls
Just for comparison, here are 2 shots from 2007 when water levels were a lot higher. The first is obviously the step waterfall and the second is Bennett Cove Falls from a slightly different angle. It doesn't even look like the same waterfall, but it is.
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