Melrose Falls - Polk County
Melrose Falls

3-29-19  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 when it came out in 2016. The land that this waterfall is on was protected by the Pacolet Area Conservancy which has since combined forces with Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy to become Conserving Carolina. Actually, they 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 the public is welcome! So thank Conserving Carolina by clicking on that link and joining or donating, and then thank Kevin by buying a new copy of the book and map. 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 (right) 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 Pearson 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. You can 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, but there's a pull off area on the left right before you get the parking on the right and enough room there for 6 or 7 vehicles.

The trail begins just beyond the boulders and the gate. 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 and leads towards to bottom sections of the waterfall.

below Melrose Falls
below Melrose Falls


zoomed in to bottom of Melrose Falls


looking down at the smaller falls

Please tread very lightly in this area and stay on the trail as much as possible. This entire area is loaded with wildflowers in the spring. Below is a shot of the lower falls, then video I shot of the waterfalls. All shots and video are from my first visit in 2016. Lighting conditions were horrendous on my most recent trip, so we concentrated on shooting wildflowers.

waterfall below Melrose Falls
small waterfall below Melrose Falls

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