waterfall on Little Fall Branch
2-19-07 Sorry I haven't posted directions to this beautiful 40' waterfall up until now. I've been to it several times and thought I had added it - duh. This is one of the new ones in Kevin Adams' updated book. I think a ranger had told him it was back here. Since I live close by, I agreed to check it out during his book research - it's nice, and an easy hike! Plus, you can combine this with a trip to Max Patch Mountain and have a very rewarding day. A very full day if you come in April. This area is loaded with wildflowers, especially trilliums.
Directions: Get on I-40 and head west towards Tennessee. That is unless you are coming from west of Exit 7. Get off at Exit 7 - the Harmon Den exit - and turn right. The road immediately turns to gravel and is called Cold Springs Creek Rd (FR 148). Harmon Den is part of the Pisgah National Forest and is a popular horse camp and riding area. Please drive slowly up this road. From the exit, drive 3.7 miles and turn right at the sign for the picnic area and horse camp. Pass the picnic area, cross the bridge, and continue up a short ways to the horse camp on the left. Keep to the right around the bend and park near the gate without blocking the gate. The horse folks sometimes use this for a turn-around with their trailers, so please try to allow room for that when you park.
There are 2 small creeks here. You want to follow the 2nd one at the gate up creek. Walk just past the gate and creek at enter the woods on the left. When I first came here in 2005, there was no sign of a trail at all. After Kevin's book came out I noticed a trail beginning to form. If you don't notice one or find parts of it, just follow the creek up for 10 minutes or so to the waterfall. You can't miss it. The hike is easy and flat.
Like I said earlier, this area has a wide variety of wildflowers. Most will be in bloom from mid April to early May. Around the 1st of May, you will see hundreds of trillium along Cold Springs Creek Rd before the turn to the waterfall, then on up the road a ways on the way to Max Patch. Now, on to Max Patch Mountain. If you've never heard of it, it's a maintained grassy bald - elevation 4629' - with a 360° view. If you're not from this area and want to come in the winter, parts of the road can have packed icy snow for days at a time. In a 2WD car, you might end up like this unfortunate couple. Neither was hurt.
If you come up in warmer weather - even July - bring a sweater, jacket or something warm. Bring more than you think you'll need just in case. From the waterfall parking, come back out to Cold Springs Creek Rd and turn right. You'll begin zig zagging up the mountain. After 2.6 miles, turn left at the sign to Max Patch. Continue 1.8 miles up to the signed parking area on the right. The Appalachian Trail runs right over the top of the mountain so there may be some vehicles parked here for shuttle. Cross over the steps and into the field. The trail is a loop, but you'll see where people go straight up the hill even though there is a sign asking you not to for erosion purposes. I take the trail (grassy road) up to the left. You'll pass a nice view to the left before reaching the intersection with the AT. It's not all that far and you should be able to do it even if you're not in great shape. Bring a blanket, have a picnic, and stay for a sunset. I've got a gallery of shots from various trips to Max Patch here. I was fortunate enough to be there one chilly winter day with a combo of rime ice and snow.
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