Melrose Falls - Polk County
Melrose Falls

4-22-16  I knew there was a Melrose Falls years ago, but had read it was just roadside viewable - and only in the winter. It didn't really seem worth the drive to see. Lately, I've been seeing interesting photos of Melrose Falls in social media, but still haven't made the effort to go. Most of what I was seeing was accessing a waterfall by walking down the decommissioned RR tracks. Then I read about a fairly easy trail to the falls in Kevin Adams' newest NC waterfall guide book (due out in June 2016). The land that this waterfall is on is owned and protected by the Pacolet Area Conservancy. Actually, they have bought up several parcels of land along US176 along the North Pacolet River between the river and the railroad tracks to preserve this pristine environment. There's now a nice trail from a very small parking area along 176 that leads to a cliff side viewing area of this 50-60' waterfall. Kevin found the trail while investigating Melrose Falls for the new book and called the PAC to find out details. He was told it was OK to add it to his book and he told me it was OK to add it here before his book comes out! So thank the PAC by clicking on that link and joining or donating, and then thank Kevin by buying a new copy of the book and map when they come out in a couple of months. Most of this hike is fairly easy, but there's a steep part at the end that takes you out to where you will die if you fall. Keep that in mind if you plan on bringing children.

Directions:  From Asheville, take I-26 east past Hendersonville, and get off at exit 59. At the end of the ramp, head west on Ozone Drive towards Saluda.. Drive a little over a mile and turn left on US176. Drive 3.2 miles and cross a bridge over the river. (You will have passed one end of Pearsons Falls Rd.) Slow down, drive a little farther and just before you cross the river again look for a small dirt drive on the right. Pull in here and park. There are 2 large boulders blocking vehicles from going very far up, so don't pull in fast or you'll run into them! There's only enough room for 2 vehicles to park here, so have a Plan B if you can't get in.

The trail begins just beyond the boulders. Head up this trail for just over 0.1 miles to where the trail splits and turn left. I didn't take the trail straight ahead, but Kevin later told me that this leads to the RR tracks. Once you turn left, cross 2 wet weather creeks and come to a split in the trail (0.4 miles into the hike). Stay on the upper trail - for now - and continue another 1/4 mile or so to the waterfall. You'll hear the falling water on Big Fall Creek before you see the waterfall and the very end of the hike is a steep descent to a cliff area overlooking the falls. This area is covered up in poison ivy, so be warned if you are allergic. It's safe to be up here as long as you don't get too close to the edge and fall off. If you look up beyond the top of the falls you'll see the 40' high railroad trestle mentioned in other online sources.

Melrose Falls - Polk County
Melrose Falls

Don't try to climb down from here! Instead, go back to the last fork you came to on the way in and turn right and down hill. This trail is narrower, but easily followed at first. It bears right to parallel the other trail - and river - but when I was here in April 2016, it faded to nothing before it met with the Big Fall Creek. I'm not sure if the PAC is still working on it or what, but I continued to follow where I could tell others had been. This is a very delicate area, so please tread lightly if you keep on. I came out at a rock area just above a smaller waterfall and below Melrose Falls. I could look up and see the bottom section of the waterfall - the second picture is the zoomed in view.

below Melrose Falls
below Melrose Falls


zoomed in to bottom of Melrose Falls


looking down at the smaller falls

From here I backtracked a small bit and headed down to the base of the falls. It would be great if the trail eventually ended here, but I am very thankful that the Pacolet Area Conservancy has opened what they have to the public. This waterfall is only about 10' high, but flows over some mossy rock to make for a very nice setting. Below is a shot of the falls, then video I shot of the waterfalls.

waterfall below Melrose Falls
small waterfall below Melrose Falls

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