Reece Place Falls
9-11-18 - The 60' Reece Place Falls is one of the premier destinations in Headwaters State Forest, but there's some new info you need to be aware of before you grab your packs and head towards Busted Rock Rd. What I can tell you is that the old way in via Busted Rock Rd that you might find online has changed. Cindy and I drove down there a couple of days ago and there's now a small sign with 'No State Forest Entry' at the beginning of the road and a new gate with a 'Do Not Enter' sign on it at the end of the road before where folks used to park. There is absolutely no place to park here and no place to turn around. Busted Rock Rd is a private road and my guess is that the residents will be calling the sheriff's department to have cars towed if they find cars parked anywhere around there - even in the cemetery since that's private property also. I'm trying to get more info from the forest service about this situation and will post an update as soon as I find out anything new.
There is some good news, however. Good news if you don't mind bushwhacking and know how to read a topo map and use a real compass, and a hand held GPS or some type of navigating map app for your phone that doesn't require having a cell signal. You might have a signal at the place where I'm going to tell you to park, but you probably won't have one once you hit the lowlands of the hike. It's about 1.5 miles to the waterfall if you go this way. If you are not experienced in off trail travel, this is not a good place to see if you have what it takes. Keep in mind that if your phone or other navigating device stops working and you don't have a compass and topo map (and know how to use them), you are screwed. Use common sense and good judgment here. The waterfall isn't going anywhere and an official trail will be built at some point down the road. Below is a property boundary map I got from the Transylvania County GIS site that shows the Headwaters SF parcel that you have to hike through. (You are allowed to hike anywhere in the forest that doesn't have a 'Do Not Enter' sign.) It's a narrow piece of land and you need to stay on it and not trespass on the adjoining private property. Once you get in there deep enough, the big parcel of land to the right is also HSF property.
Directions: From the center of town in Brevard at Broad and Main Streets, turn on to East Main St (US276 south). Drive 7.3 miles on 276 and turn right on East Fork Rd. This is also the back entrance for the Connestee Falls development. Drive 3.7 miles on East Fork Rd and pull off on the left where you see a cable across a drive. There's enough room for 3-4 vehicles here and you'll see a Headwaters State Forest diamond on a utility pole.
On the other side of the cable is a nice flat area. There's an old road that goes off to the left, but it almost immediately goes into private property and doesn't go the way you want to go anyway. Walk to the far end of the flat area and look straight ahead and to the right a bit. This is what your bushwhack will be for the next 0.6 miles. Part of the way is a little less shrubby, part of it is more - and with briers. It's not really steep - about a 200' drop in elevation - and I didn't come across any cliff areas on my way down. You'll also probably be getting your feet wet, so plan on that. During warmer weather the person in front will be eating a lot of spider webs. You have to honestly assess your off trail navigation skills and ask yourself if you want to risk other people's lives coming to look for you if you get lost. Remember to mark the spot where you parked on your navigating device if you choose to proceed!
If you are experienced in off trail navigation, this bushwhack shouldn't present any real problems. Load a destination point on Busted Rock Rd (the green line) about mid way between the boundary lines. If you are looking at a topo map, find where Big Branch crosses Busted Rock Rd. That's where you need to end up to continue the hike from the old way in. Big Branch isn't shown on the above map, btw. So basically, you'll be heading SSE from the end of that flat area I mentioned above until you run into Big Branch. Cross Big Branch and begin heading south and you will run into Busted Rock Rd. You'll know it because it's the first gravel/dirt road you come to that you could drive on if you could get your vehicle in there. Now that you found the road, the rest of the hike is a piece of cake.
Once on the road, turn left. Depending on where you come out on the road, it's maybe 0.1 miles to a fork. Go left towards the red gate. (If you go straight on Busted Rock Rd, you'll run into East Fork of the French Broad River.) The road past the gate follows East Fork up towards Reece Place Falls. About 1/4 mile past the gate are some wildlife clearings on the right. Headwaters State Forest is also gamelands and you should be wearing blaze orange during hunting season. You can look up NC hunting seasons here. My advice would be to avoid bushwhacking during hunting season period. This goes back to the common sense rule. Back to the hike, the road continues on and about 0.6 miles past the red gate a road/path turns to the right. You don't want to take this, but this will lead to the Hickory Flat Creek area and several more old roads and paths that you could get lost on. Continue past this path and in a short distance the road will end. You will have begun to hear the waterfall ahead before the road ends. You'll see 2 paths ahead. The one to the right leads to 2 lower waterfalls right next to each other. You'll have to do a bit of scrambling to get over to see them. The left waterfall is smaller and overgrown, but the right side one is really nice! It's maybe 15-20' high and as far as I know it doesn't have a name.
To get to Reece Place Falls, go back out and take the left path up. It's not too far up and you'll begin to see this 60' beauty through the trees before you get to it. The waterfall is in 2 sections and is truly a sight to behold.
Reece Place Falls
If you've searched for images of Reece Place Falls, you've probably seen images of just the top section of the falls - and you'll see another below. I won't lie to you - it's really a magical spot. The main drop alone is beautiful, but there's another waterfall in the background that feeds down into the pool. All I am going to tell you is to look around and see if you see a safe way to get up there. It's not easy and there are a lot of delicate plants and mosses in this area that you shouldn't be trampling. If you fall and get hurt, you'll be spending the night. Somebody has to go for help, then rescue has to risk their lives coming in to get you. If you fall and die, it won't matter about you spending the night, but the recovery team will still have to risk their lives coming in to get you. Please use common sense!
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