Pigeon Branch Falls 3-27-17
3-27-17 - Pigeon Branch Falls is a beautiful 15-20' waterfall that gets very few visitors. The main reason is that there isn't a trail to it even though it's only about 1/4 mile off of US276 (as the crow flies). As far as bushwhacks go, this one isn't that difficult, but expect to get scratched up by briers and have to scramble around and under some rhododendron and laurel. My pal Bernie Boyer first found this waterfall in early 2007 and took me shortly after that. I finally made a return trip 10 years later to check out the current condition of the waterfall and the effort it takes to see it. This waterfall is not family friendly unless your family is into off trail adventures.
Directions: From the intersection of NC 280 / US64 / US276 near Brevard, drive north on US276 for 11.6 miles and turn right on the gravel FR1206 - aka Yellow Gap Rd. If you are coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway, head south on 276 for 3.2 miles and turn left on FR1206. Don't drive down the road, but park here where you are off of the main road and not blocking entrance to 1206. There's enough room for about 4 vehicles here.
Begin the hike by walking north up the left side of US276 to the guard rail you can see from the parking area. Pigeon Branch goes under 276 at this point. You'll be heading up the creek to the waterfall. On this latest visit, I stayed on the left side of the creek the entire way up. Another guy I know recently wrote a trip report and said he started on the left, but crossed the creek at some point and thought it was easier getting down to the waterfall from the right side. Either way, choose the path of least resistance for you. Sometimes the going is easier if you get away from the creek - just keep the creek in hearing distance and you'll be OK. The tricky part is finding the waterfall once you get close. The land is fairly level at the beginning of the trek, but will get steeper as you approach the falls. You have to be fairly close to the creek to be able to spot the falls because the rhododendron is fairly thick. My GPS had me walking 1/2 mile from the parking area - but that wasn't in a straight line - and shows the waterfall at the 3600' elevation mark. The water levels on this trip were a bit low compared to when I was there in 2007 as you can see in the last photo below. If you go up towards the top of the falls on the left side to get the angle in the next photo, be very careful. The soil layer is very thin and could give away if you get too close to the bare rock. Even though this waterfall isn't that tall, I'm pretty sure the rock you will fall down on is harder than your skull.
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