Graveley Falls - Headwaters State Forest
9-27-18 - Graveley Falls is another great example of how a waterfall doesn't have to be big to be beautiful. The relatively easy 0.6 mile hike to this 20' high cascading waterfall can be enjoyed by the entire family. There is a short, steep scramble right at the end to get to the base of the falls, but this shouldn't be a problem for most folks. The sandy pool at the base of the falls is just deep enough to cool off on a hot summer day. You can keep your feet dry on most days while at this waterfall, but if you want to explore all of the photo possiblities, bring water shoes. This is also gamelands and you need to wear blaze orange during any hunting season! Information about hunting in NC can be found here.
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 turn sharply left on to Glady Fork Rd. Drive 2.6 miles on Glady Fork Rd and the gravel drive with the cable across it on the left serves as the trail head. I don't have mileage, but if you continue down Glady Fork for a very few more miles, it ends at F Van Clayton Memorial Hwy near Sassafras Mountain in South Carolina. If you happened to be over there, you could come in that way. Also, the other end of East Fork Rd is in Rosman, NC, so you could also come in from there too.
Graveley Falls Trail Head
The trail head isn't marked yet, but it has a 'Do Not Block Gate' sign on the cable. The 'Do Not Enter' sign has been removed since I took the above shot a couple of weeks ago. Just on the other side of the cable is a new Headwaters SF sign welcoming foot traffic. No bikes or horses are allowed on the trails! There is no official parking area for the waterfall, so you'll have to pull off the road anywhere on public property as long as your vehicle is completely off the road. You should begin looking as soon as you pass a road on the left (I think it's Walden Ridge Trail) at about 2.4 miles down Glady Fork Rd. There was no one else here when we visited and I was able to pull off on the right just before the cabled road. The sides of the road can be mushy during wet weather, so ease off the road and try not to spin your tires when getting back on the pavement. If for some reason there are a lot of cars here, continue past the drive and keep looking. At 3.1 miles down Glady Fork Rd, there's a new Headwaters SF access - the White Oak Bridge access - on the left where you can get turned around - or, you could park here and walk back up Glady Fork Rd. This access at 3.1 miles has a new kiosk with nothing on it yet (as of this writing), but there's an old road leading up to a Foothills Trail spur access to the right of the kiosk and a trail to the left. The trail to the left is 0.5 miles long and leads back to the old road that serves as the trail to Graveley Falls. The trail is in good shape and is easy to follow. At just under 0.4 miles, the trail you want bears to the left and downhill while another foot path turns left and uphill. After you bear left, the trail soon comes to the South Prong of Glady Fork. There used to be a bridge here, but it has been washed out. This is a wet crossing in case you are here in cold weather. The trail continues through a wet area, then bears to the right and uphill before connecting on to the old road. Turn right and you will soon see the fork in the picture below.
Begin the hike on the cabled road. At 0.1 miles into the hike, the road splits. Take the fork to the right and down hill. (The road to the left heads up and intersects with quite a few other roads on Headwaters property, but some of them go into private property. I had a loop hike on here for a few weeks, but apparently it crossed into private property and that land is now posted. Please do not go beyond these signs! You are allowed to wander around on any of the roads that are on Headwaters property, but be sure to keep track of your turns.)
fork in the road - go right!
The hike is a nice stroll through the woods which are a combination of hardwoods and white pine. The South Prong of Glady Fork is down through the woods on your right, but is silent as it passes through this level section of the forest. You'll pass a couple of older overgrown roads and paths, but stay on the main road. At 0.5 miles, pass a path on the right heading down towards the creek. Not too far past this, the road ends and 2 trails continue towards the sound of falling water. The trail to the right goes a short distance to the top of Graveley Falls. You can go down for a look if you stay away from the very top and stay on dry rock only! People die when they start splashing around at the tops of waterfalls. Use common sense folks!
The trail to the left leads past a nice trail view of the falls (first photo on this page). Continue a short distance past this and look for the short and steep trail down to the base of the waterfall. Be careful on the slanted rock at the bottom - it's very slippery when wet.
There's also a nice 'S' shaped narrow cascade below Graveley Falls. If that slanted rock isn't too wet and slippery, you can get scoot down it for a look. Or, you can cross the creek right there below the pool and look to your left on the other side of the rocks and climb down into the little chasm and shoot from there.
The main trail continues past the scramble trail down to the base of the falls. If you walk down this way, you'll hear more noisy water down below to your right. There are more sliding cascades down there and some interesting rock formations if you don't mind some off trail scrambling. The trail then continues less than a half mile and enters private property. Do not go beyond any private property signs!
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