Upper Fungi Falls
5-25-16 - Fungi Falls is a long series of cascades on Ostin Creek falling around 200' in elevation. There are 2 distinct waterfalls here. The upper falls isn't too bad to get to, but seeing the lower requires a steep off trail scramble. This area is not for children or novice waterfall viewers. It's actually fairly close to civilization, but it has eluded the general public until just recently. Famed adventurer and waterfall hunter Andy Kunkle (aka Fungi) was studying the top map of the area and figured there had to be a waterfall here. He talked with Kevin Adams who was working on the latest edition of his North Carolina Waterfalls guide book and I think the story is Kevin made it down there before Andy was able to. Another word of caution - this area is in the Green River Gamelands so I would avoid it during hunting season or wear blaze orange if you go in season. North Carolina hunting seasons can be found here.
Directions: From I-26 southeast of Hendersonville, take Exit 59 for Saluda and head east (away from Saluda) on Holbert Cove Rd. Drive 4.8 miles (passing the trail heads for Big and Little Bradley Falls) and look for a dirt/gravel road on the right. On my visit the gate was closed, so I'm assuming it stays locked when it's not hunting season. Park here without blocking the gate. There's a 'no trespassing' sign on the left of the gate on a tree, but when the gate is open you can drive the road as long as you don't stop until you get to the parking area. The land before that is private. So I assumed it would be OK for me to walk to road as long as I stayed on the road. If it isn't and you get arrested for trespassing - I assumed wrong. Anywho - walk or drive the road for 3/4 of a mile until it ends at a turn around inside the gamelands.
Take the trail leading out of the parking area for a short distance and cross Ostin Creek. Keep going for about 0.1 mile and the trail (old road) will begin to bear to the right. At this point you have to leave the trail on the left and start heading down towards the creek at about a 45° angle. This will take you in the general direction of the upper waterfall, and you will have to adjust your approach accordingly to get you to the base of the waterfall. There is no trail here, but you might see signs of where people have previously been. If this were the only waterfall here, it would be well worth the hike and short scramble to see. The waterfall is maybe 30-40' high and cascades over some beautifully colored layered rock. Below where I was standing for the above photo is a smaller cascade, then a fall of 10-12' or so. Here is a shot of the upper section of the falls, then a portion of the drop below. You can see even more of this waterfall in the video at the bottom of the page.
If you have any difficulty at all getting to the upper section of the waterfall, do not attempt to get to the lower section! You could die or be seriously injured in this area. If you are at the very bottom of the upper waterfall, you can clearly see that the creek drops off again just a short ways down. You can safely go over and take a look. Kevin's book describes a way to get to the bottom from where you left the trail above, but I didn't try that way. Looking down the lower waterfall, the best choice for me seemed to be going down the left side to the bottom of the next drop which is actually the middle of the lower falls. It is very steep here and the ground is unstable, so I stayed away from the waterfall as I descended then came back towards it to the area where I shot the next 2 images from.
To get to the very bottom of Fungi Falls, I headed away from the creek again and descended where the ground was more stable and I had small trees and rhodos to hang on to. There's some big lumber and debris to crawl over down here to get to a good view of the falls, but it can be done. There's more falling water below this, but I'm saving it for another day. Below are 2 more shots of Fungi Falls, then some video from both waterfalls.
back to Polk County waterfalls page
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