4-7-23   Glady Fork Rd has 4 access points for Headwaters State Forest - Garren Flats, Gravley Mill Shoals, White Oak Bridge, and Morgan Place. Remember, these are for foot traffic only - no bikes or horses. This is also gamelands and you need to wear blaze orange during any hunting season! Information about hunting in NC can be found here. You will need a good sense of direction for hiking in here as well as topo maps and compass along with a handheld GPS or phone app that doesn't require cell service to work. None of the roads are marked and it would be very easy for a novice hiker to get turned around and end up lost.

Directions: From the center of town in Brevard at Broad and Main Streets, turn on to East Main St (US276 south). Drive 7.3 miles on 276 and turn right on East Fork Rd. This is also the back entrance for the Connestee Falls development. Drive 7 miles on East Fork Rd and take a sharp left on Glady Fork Rd. You can also come in the other end of East Fork from Rosman if you happened to be in that area. If so, bear right on Glady Fork Rd. Cross a concrete bridge, then look for a small parking area on the right and a red gate on the left. This is the Garren Flats access. You'll also begin seeing Headwaters State Forest diamond signs on poles and trees if you didn't notice the ones on East Fork Rd. The cabled road leading to Gravley Falls is at 2.6 miles on the left and is labeled as Gravley Mill Shoals on the map. The White Oak Bridge access point is 3.1 miles down Glady Fork Rd on the left. Pull off on the side of the road without blocking the wood bridge leading to the red gate There's a kiosk with a map and bit of info on the other side of the gate. The last access point is 3.4 miles down Glady Fork Rd on the left and is labeled as Morgan Place on the map. You can take a trail from here up to Sassafras Mountain. More info on all of these access points is below.

Garren Flats access - This is a good parking spot for fisherman to access Garren Branch, Glady Fork, and the south prong of Glady Fork. Hikers can cross the road to the red gate and explore the numerous unmarked old roads and footpaths. Not too far up the road past the gate, you'll come to this nice shoals on south prong of Glady Fork.

south prong Glady Fork
south prong Glady Fork

From here you are on your own. The map on the kiosk gives you the main roads through this area, so it might be helpful to take a photo of it before you go, then use your GPS or mapping app for more assistance. I like using the pay version of Gaia GPS. You can download maps to your phone to use offline, record tracks and waypoints, and do all of the other things you would expect from this type of app. If you can find your way to the trail along another section of south prong, you might come across this little cascades. I still have more exploring I'd like to do in this area.

south prong Glady Fork
south prong Glady Fork

Gravley Mill Shoals - There's no parking lot here, but you can pull off the side of the road at the cabled road to Gravley Falls which I discuss on this page.

White Oak Bridge access - This parking area can be used to access the Sassafras Mountain to Caesars Head spur of the Foothills Trail between White Oak Mountain and Bigspring Mountain. You can also use it to get to Gravley Falls if you weren't comfortable pulling off Glady Fork Rd at the cabled road I discuss at the above link. After parking, walk across the bridge to the kiosk. The left trail heads towards Gravley Falls. The uphill trail to the right will take you to the Foothills Trail spur. The hike up this road climbs steadily for just a little over a mile and gains about 300' in elevation. You will pass several other paths to the left and right on the way up, but continue to a bend where the road you want heads left and NNW and another road bears right and SE. Continue left and up for another 0.4 miles and look for the concrete marker in the photo below indicating the NC/SC border and the blue blazes for the Foothills Trail spur. Refer to the map below that photo that is a portion of the official Headwaters map. I drew in the green track which is the hike I just described. It follows the black lines already on the map. The yellow line is the Foothills Trail spur already drawn on the map. If you refer to the complete official Headwaters map, you'll see that the road(s) continue past this access to other points in the forest property. There are also other roads and paths not shown on that map, so if you wander around aimlessly and are relying solely on your phone app and your phone dies, you might be screwed.

NC/SC Bench Mark

  

For a longer 4.3 mile loop hike, refer to the blue line that I drew on the map. Instead of bearing left and following the green line to the FHT access, take the road to the right towards Whiteoak Mountain. Continue for about a mile and look for the road to the right that will take you back down to Glady Fork Rd at the Morgan Place access. There is a wet crossing of the south prong of Glady Fork right before the parking area and you will have to walk north along Glady Fork Rd for about 0.3 miles to get back to your vehicle.

Morgan Place access - This is the final access point on Glady Fork Road and one of the newest parking areas in Headwaters. The highlight hike from this access point is up to the tower at Sassafras Mountain in South Carolina which is the green line on the map below. Once you are parked, head to the SW end of the lot towards a small sign indicating a trail is in that direction. If you face the kiosk, it will be to the right, then the trail turns to the left. In a short distance you'll cross south prong of Glady Fork on some rocks. You should be able to keep your feet dry unless water levels are high. Continue for 0.2 mile to a fork and head to the right at the stone marker. The trail (another old road) continues uphill for just under a mile where it intersects with the Foothills Trail spur. Turn right on the Foothills Trail and continue another 1/2 a mile or so to the parking area for Sassafras Mountain. The tower is up the road beyond the gate and has a great view of the surrounding mountains.

The blue line on the map is a 2.4 mile loop hike that you can do if you want to skip the Sassafras Mountain tower. Follow the same route up to the Foothills Trail spur, then turn left on the FHT. Continue on some serious downhill for 0.5 miles to Sassafras Gap. You'll know you are at the gap when the FHT begins heading uphill again. At the gap, take the trail to the left which is shown as a black line on the official Headwaters map. Continue for 0.5 miles to the site of an old homestead, then a fork. This section of trail is more level and you'll have a couple of easy creek crossings before the fork. At the fork, go left and continue over the log bridge, then up to the fork back at the stone marker. Turn right and continue back to the parking area.

With a bit of imagination, you can do some longer loop hikes or easy shuttle hikes from the Morgan Place access. If you are standing at the kiosk, look to the left for the road shown on the official map. It crosses through south prong then heads uphill for 1.6 miles to Whiteoak Mountain gaining 500' in elevation along the way. The Foothills Trail spur comes really close to that road in the area of Whiteoak Mountain, but I don't think there is an official access point. You should be able to cut through the woods to hit the FHT in that area. I know we could see blue blazes on the trees in that area when we did the loop from White Oak Bridge access. From Morgan Place access, it's not that long of a drive to the Sassafras Mountain parking. Come out of Morgan Place access and turn left on Glady Fork Rd. Continue until it ends at a stop sign. Turn left and follow that road until it ends at the parking area for Sassafras Mountain.

 

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