8-9-18 The Big Ivy area of the Pisgah National Forest doesn't really get a lot of attention, but it is home to the spectacular Douglas Falls and several drive by waterfalls - including Walker Falls - along the way. This area is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter months. There are no specific dates - it depends on the weather - but is generally around the holidays through early Spring. These photos are a combination of several trips to the area. My most recent trip was in August 2018.
Directions: There are several ways to get to the Big Ivy area. From Asheville, take NC19/23 north (future I-26) to Exit 15 - NC197 & Barnardsville. Drive about 6 miles on NC197 to the small town of Barnardsville. When the speed limit slows to 35mph, begin looking for, then turn right on Dillingham Rd (SR2173). At 2.2 miles down Dillingham Rd, it bears left. Continue on Dillingham Rd for a total of about 5 miles where the paved road ends at the Big Ivy area. From here, the road becomes FR74 and is gravel the rest of the way. At 3.7 miles down Dillingham Rd, you will pass a right turn - Stoney Fork Rd. Turning right here will take you to the gravel FR63 which winds up the mountain and comes out at the Craggy Gardens picnic area off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. So if you are on the Parkway, you could come down this way - if the road is open. (On my last attempt in June 2018, the road was gated - probably due to washed out areas from the heavy rains in May.) Take the turn off of the Parkway up to the picnic area, then look for the left turn on to FR63 just a short distance up. FR63 is gated in the winter months.
FR74 is a narrow forest road, so drive slow and look for the wider places if you meet a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. The road crosses several creeks and there are small waterfalls on many of them. Recent rainfall will determine if the waterfalls are worth a stop. About 4 miles up FR74 you will pass Walker Falls on the left which is definitely worth a stop. Just pull off out of the way - there's no hiking involved! I'm not sure if someone comes along every now and then and cuts foliage for a better view of the falls, but the first shot below is from 2009 and you could stand in the road and get a good shot of the entire waterfall. The next shot is from 2012 and the shot from the road was getting obscured. In August 2018, there was no real shot at all from the road, so I climbed down the bank for a shot from the base.
Continue up FR74 and cross several more creeks before the road ends - a little less than 5 miles from Walker Falls. The trail to Douglas Falls is straight ahead and it's about 1/2 mile to the waterfall. The trail is fairly level, but a little rocky and rooty, so watch your step. Douglas Falls is a 70' free fall and is surrounded by old growth forest. It's really a beautiful place and well worth the drive and hike.
Douglas Falls in 2009 after some heavy rain
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