Bradley Creek Falls - 3.20.17
3-20-17 - Bradley Creek Falls is more for hard core waterfallers than the average tourist. Even though the hike to the falls is only about 0.8 miles, part of the hike is off trail and you could easily get lost on your way back from the waterfall. The falls is about 20-25' high and slides down a huge section of exposed rock. Bernie Boyer first found this waterfall in early 2007 and took me shortly after that. I finally made a return trip 10 years later to check out the current trail situation.
Directions: From the intersection of NC 280 / US64 / US276 near Brevard, drive north on US276 for 11.6 miles and turn right on the gravel FR1206 - aka Yellow Gap Rd. If you are coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway, head south on 276 for 3.2 miles and turn left on FR1206. Drive 4 miles on FR1206 and look for the Pilot Rock Trail on the left. Parking is on the right, but there's only enough space for maybe 3 vehicles.
Begin the hike on the Pilot Rock Trail. In a very short distance, look for the trail to bear to the right at a spot where going straight will take you into a camp site. Continue down the trail and cross a foot bridge over Bradley Creek. Continue for less than 0.2 miles and come to an intersection. The Pilot Rock Trail continues straight, but you'll want to bear left on the wider old logging road. Several logs are across the road to indicate that this is not the Pilot Rock Trail. As you continue up the old road, it narrows down to a foot path where you'll have to push your way through some shrub. Once through the shrub, the walking becomes easier again. At just under 0.5 miles into the hike, you'll come to a tributary where there used to be a short log bridge. The support logs are still there, but not the cross boards. After this, the road just disappears and the rest of the way is through the woods. You'll want to mark this spot on your GPS. If you don't find it on your way back, you could have problems. (If for some reason you do get turned around on your way back, follow the creek down and you'll eventually come out to the foot bridge near the beginning of the Pilot Rock Trail that I mentioned earlier.)
The land is fairly level in the area of this tributary, and you'll have to choose your best path to the waterfall from here. If you continue mostly straight, you'll cross another tributary before getting to Bradley Creek. All 3 of these streams are only a short distance apart. Once you cross the first trib, the waterfall is to your right, so you could start bearing right if you see an easy path. Ahead of you, the land will begin to get steep. Bradley Creek Falls is right at the really steep stuff, so if you get to it before you get to the falls, follow the lay of the land to the left to a rock wall where you'll find the waterfall.
Water levels were low on this last visit, so I've added 2 photos from the 2007 trip. Bernie and Harry are in the next photo for perspective, but notice the small section of waterfall below where they are standing. That is now covered in forest debris and it will take a big gully washer to clear it out. If you look at a topo map of this area, it looks like there's a lot more waterfall above this. I checked it out on this last trip - there's not. There's a small section above this, then nothing for at least 0.5 miles - plus the creek was really thin at this point.
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