Jack's Cove Falls 3-2-08
3-2-08 I might not have ever found this waterfall early in 2007 if it wasn't for SCJack of Carolinas Adventures. He had posted a trail report for the Moore Cove Falls area and when I had the Pisgah Forest Trail Map out I noticed an unnamed creek that looked like it might have a waterfall on it. There's no trail marked on the map so I figured it would be a bushwhack to check it out. Turns out there's a maintained, but unmarked trail about 2 miles long that goes right to this nice 30-40 foot waterfall! It sits at the end of a little cove and has no name, so I've unofficially named it Jack's Cove Falls. The hike is easy to moderate with a couple of tricky places and passes through some beautiful areas of the forest. The waterfall is on a low volume creek and will need some recent rain to help it out.
Directions: Parking is in the same places as for Moore Cove Falls. From the intersection of NC 280 / US64 / US276 near Brevard, drive north on US276 for 6.6 miles and park on the right just before the bridge. The trail begins the same as for Moore Cove Falls. (If you've been to neither and only have time for one, I would recommend Moore Cove Falls.) Walk towards the bridge and info board and cross the creek on the wooden foot bridge. Head up the trail for a couple of minutes. At the top of the landscaped log stairs is a tree on the right with 2 yellow blazes. Turn left on this unmarked trail. Do not take this trail if it is marked closed. Bearing to the right and following the yellow blazes will take you to Moore Cove Falls.
The trail to Jack's Cove begins by following the ridge line above and along US276 north. Within 10 minutes you should begin to have winter views of Looking Glass Rock to your left. In just less than 15 minutes from the trail head, cross a small creek. Within another few minutes, the trail crosses a tricky rock wet weather area. Look to your right about waist to chest high and cross up there. If it's wet it will be slippery! In another 5 minutes the trail passes a high cliff area. If you were driving north on 276, this would be the rock cliffs set off the road on your right. Go a little farther on the trail and you'll see a small side path to the left that goes down to the top of the rock with views of some pretty cascades on Looking Glass Creek across Hwy 276. Don't go out here if the rock is wet and use your best judgment at all other times.
From here the trail crosses several dips and wet areas on logs, so be careful at these. In about 30 minutes from the trail head, come to another creek. It's low volume, but wider than the others you've passed. It appears that a trail crosses and heads down, but the trail to Jack's Cove goes up at a diagonal, crossing the creek. It's fairly obvious once you've crossed. Go up the left side of this creek on some mucky old log stairs and up the creek to the 10' rock wall that the creek trickles over. This might be worth a picture after a gully washer, but it wasn't today. The trail now heads to the left (NW) and up the next ridge. The trail is still very obvious and passes through areas of dense mountain laurel. As the trail descends you are heading E and NE and might be thinking you are going the wrong way. 20-30 minutes from where you crossed the last creek, you'll come to a kind of a grassy trail intersection with no blazes or signs. Turn left and go downhill - I have no idea where these other trails go. In another 5 minutes or so cross Jack's Cove Creek and come to another intersection. Look to the right and up to see a small red metal sign with a curvy arrow on it nailed to a tree. What does this mean?? Ponder that for a moment, then continue on the trail to the right which follows the creek up the left side. The waterfall is a few minutes up.
When I was up here last, the leaves from last fall still covered the trail, so it doesn't appear that very many people come this way. The banks around the waterfall are very steep, so be careful if you head towards the base. The waterfall doesn't appear to be much in these photos, but 30-40' ain't no slacker. The hike is a good work out and I'm guessing areas of the forest along the trail will be good for spring wildflowers. When I was in the Visitors Center a few weeks back, I asked a ranger and he had no idea this was back there or that the trail existed. He had no objection to me posting this, so here you are.
For the more adventurous of you and those of you with map & compass or GPS skills only, you can make a big 4-5 mile loop out of this and end up back at Moore Cove Falls. The trail continues up the left side of Jack's Cove Creek as it peters out near it's headwaters and comes out at the unmarked grassy FR5012. This road is gated at FR477 - you'll see both on the NatGeo Pisgah Forest Trail Map. Turn to the right up FR5012 and you can loop around and find the headwaters for Little Moore Cove Creek. From this area you can pick up the blue blazed trail that ends up coming down next to Little Moore Cove Falls to the Moore Cove Falls Trail. I'm intentionally leaving out a few details - there are other roads and wrong turns not on the map and you could easily end up lost if you don't know what you are doing. If you get lost, the Boogie Man will get you before rescue can get to you - and then you'll wish you had heeded my warning.
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