11-6-17 - Kuykendall Falls is a beautiful 30-40' waterfall that very few people visit. The hike is just under 5 miles one way and most of it is along a gated forest road. This part of the hike isn't too hard - it's just long. The forest road gains about 600' in elevation over 4.5 miles in a series of ups and downs, but the last 1/4 mile is a 300' descent down a very steep bank to Kuykendall Creek. You can't see the waterfall from the trail, so you have to know where the area to begin heading down is. It would be really helpful if you had a hand held GPS or an app that tells you how far you have hiked and even more helpful of it displayed a topo map of this area. I know folks that have hiked in and not found the waterfall, so be warned.
Directions: There are several ways to get to the trail head depending on where you are. From downtown Brevard, drive west on US64 for just under 3.5 miles and look for the right hand turn and brown and white sign for the Kuykendall Group Camp. Turn right here, then immediately bear left on to Catheys Creek Rd which becomes FR471. The road begins as paved, but narrows down to a gravel forest road. Drive 3.5 miles on Catheys Creek Rd and park at FR5361 on the right without blocking the gate. You will have passed Catheys Creek Falls along the way. If you are in the Pisgah Center and Fish Hatchery area on 475, drive 6 miles on 475 from the intersection of US276 to Gloucester Gap and turn left on FR471. Drive another 4.5 miles and FR5361 will be on the left. The hike begins on the road beyond the gate.
If you look at your NatGeo Pisgah trail map, you'll see the road begins by heading east, then north, then loops around and heads back south and east, then north and east, etc. Kevin has a really good description in the 3rd edition of his North Carolina Waterfalls book that came out in 2016. He gives mileages and landmarks to spot along the way. You'll pass 2 unmarked forest roads heading to the right - both of them dead end. At 3.75 miles into the hike, you'll have a view towards Cedar Rock Mountain as the road makes a big swing to the left. This is when you need to start paying attention. Just over 1/4 mile from this point, you may hear a creek below on the right if water flow is good. This is not Kuykendall Creek! Keep going and the road will bend back to the right and cross over that creek. This point is about 4.3 miles into the hike. In a very short distance from this creek, pass a dry drainage. A drainage is where the land takes a 'U' or 'V' shape. In another 0.1 miles, the road bends sharply to the left and you should be hearing the sounds of Kuykendall Creek way below you on the right. Go about 100' more and begin the descent down the steep slope on the left side of the next drainage area you see. You may have to zig-zag your way down the slope, but you'll want to end up near the bottom of that drainage. Once you get most of the way down, you should see Kuykendall Falls up creek to your left. Be prepared to get your feet wet as the best view of the falls is from the opposite side.
A good time to do this hike is during the fall color season. There are a lot of hardwoods and you should see a good mix of reds, yellows, and oranges. This generally coincides with bear hunting season in this area, so be sure to wear blaze orange if it is hunting season!
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