Big Bradley Falls
5-11-10 - Big Bradley Falls is a really nice 75' waterfall tucked in a small gorge. It can be a dangerous area and several people have died here over the years, so it's not for small children. There's also a creek crossing and you will most likely be getting your feet wet. The hike to the creek is fairly short and easy however and you could bring the kids to this point to play in the creek during the summer months. If you continue across and to the overlook area, the trail becomes a bit more moderate. It's about a mile to the overlook. You could make a full day of this waterfall and the nearby Little Bradley, and Pearson's Falls.
Directions: Get on I-26 southeast of Hendersonville and head towards Saluda. Take exit 59 and turn left on Holbert Cove Rd (SR 1142). Drive 3.2 miles and park on the wide shoulder on the left just before the road crosses the creek. You can also stay parked here for the hike to Little Bradley Falls. The trail begins on the side you are parked on just beyond the gate. It first passes through a field, then enters the woods, goes up a small rise, bears to the right and heads towards Cove Creek. The trail then crosses the creek on some rocks and heads uphill. If the water level is up, you may not be able to cross without getting your feet wet. At about 3/4 of a mile or so, a side trail bears to the left and downhill, and the main trail heads on to a view from an overlook. Keep going and take the 2nd trail to the left to get the view in the next photo. The only problem is you can't see the main part of the falls very well from this vantage point. It's hidden behind that tree on the right.
Getting to the base requires a steep descent down a 30' high rock wall with the help of a rope - which may or may not be attached when you get there. You may notice a small goat trail to the left as you head towards the overlook which leads towards the top of the waterfall and the rock wall. My advice now would be just to avoid this area completely as this is where most of the people have died. There's another way to the base by coming in from Green River Cove Rd and following the creek up to the waterfall, avoiding the descent down the rock wall. I took this trail back in May of 2009 and I think it's a better way to go. It's longer and if you do take it, remember that this is gamelands and you should be wearing blaze orange during hunting season!
To get to the parking, follow the same directions above to Holbert Cove Rd, but turn almost immediately to the left on to Green River Cove Rd after crossing under the interstate. This road is extremely curvy and steep until it gets to river level. Drive about 3.5 miles and look for a parking area on the left. Just ahead on the right will be a campground and tube rental place. Walk up and into that, bear to the left up the road with the tube storage building on the left and continue up to the gate. There is a small parking area here, but it is intended for hunters only. Continue up this road for about a mile and bear right on a smaller trail that heads past the old building. The main road will turn to the left at this point. Stay on that trail for a short distance and cross Cove Creek. You'll probably be getting your feet wet at this crossing. The trail is back to an old road and continues for about another 1/4 mile to another creek crossing. Don't cross here - continue up the trail on the left side of the creek for another 1/4 mile to the base of Big Bradley. The last part of the trail had a couple of steep and tricky places. At one point a side trail heads towards the creek and up to a set of cascades below the falls. You can't get up to the waterfall from here, but will have to backtrack to the trail. The last part of the trail follows a big rock wall before getting to the waterfall.
back to Polk County waterfalls page
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