Norman Wilder Forest - Polk County
Norman Wilder Forest

12-1-19  Drip Falls in the Norman Wilder Forest isn't quite a waterfall - it's more of a tall drippy rock area. The only time I have been was the day after the area got 1-2" of rain. There was flowing water, but the flow wasn't strong. If you went right after a big gully washer, the falls might be more impressive. The hike would be a nice add on hike if you are heading to Melrose Falls in Polk County since the parking areas are only about 2 miles apart. If you do go after a decent rain, there's also a smaller 10' unnamed waterfall along the trail that's kind of picturesque. The hike to the falls is about 1.5 miles and moderate in difficulty depending on your abilities. There's also another trail that leads up to a cliff area that I didn't go to, but the pictures look impressive. The Norman Wilder Forest is 185 acres and like Melrose Falls, it's owned by Conserving Carolina. You can check out this page of their site for more info.

Directions:  From Asheville, take I-26 east past Hendersonville and get off at exit 59 for Saluda. At the end of the ramp, head west (right) on Ozone Drive towards Saluda.. Drive a little over a mile to the end of the road and turn left on US176. Drive 3.2 miles and cross a bridge over the Pacolet River. This is the parking area for Melrose Falls. Continue on 176 for a total of 5.3 miles from Ozone Drive and look on the left for the small parking area with a rust colored kiosk. There's a green barn on the right and you'll see the sign on the left in the photo above.

The trail begins on the gated road on the other side of the kiosk and starts out with blue blazes. It parallels the road for a very short distance, then goes through a couple of switchbacks. At 0.3 miles into the hike, the trail crosses the creek on a footbridge above the 10' waterfall I mentioned above. You'll have to scramble down the bank to get shots from the angle I show below. The second photo has Cindy on the bridge for perspective.

Norman Wilder Forest - Polk County

Norman Wilder Forest - Polk County

From the bridge, continue on the trail for less than 0.2 miles and come to a gravel road. Turn right on road (left goes down to private property) and continue about the same distance to where the blue trail bears left and becomes a foot path. Continue on the blue blaze trail for about another 0.1 miles to where the blue trail ends at a 'T' intersection with the yellow trail and the red trail. The red trail turns right and goes steeply uphill for 0.3 miles to the cliffs I mentioned above, but you'll turn left on the yellow trail to continue on to Drip Falls. In another 0.1 miles, cross the creek above Drip Falls. The next 2 photos show looking up creek from the trail and looking down towards the top of the cliff. If you go down for a look and fall off, you'll probably die.

Norman Wilder Forest - Polk County

Norman Wilder Forest - Polk County

From here, the trail continues away from the creek, then gradually turns back to the left and heads down to a viewing area for the cliff and falls. The floods of 2018 caused a lot of landslides in Polk County and you can see evidence of it here and along other parts of the trail. There's a lot of loose rock and soil in this area, so be careful if you climb around for better views. Below are a couple of shots of Drip Falls, then a video showing the 1st smaller falls, then Drip Falls.

Drip Falls - Norman Wilder Forest - Polk County

Drip Falls - Norman Wilder Forest - Polk County
Drip Falls - Norman Wilder Forest


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