A short but beautiful cascade in the Wilson Creek region of the Pisgah National Forest.
Inside the Wilson Creek area of North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest is the remote waterfall – Bard Falls. At a height of only about 25 feet, Bard Falls isn’t too high and it is more of a large cascade. It is, however, very beautiful and worth a visit. It flows into a nice deep pool at the base of the falls that would be a great spot to cool off during the warm Summer months. The hike to the falls is just a little over a mile and half with a creek crossing that will require you to get your feet wet. During periods of high flow, the creek may even be impassable.
The Pisgah National Forest is 800 square miles of beautiful mountain terrain and is located completely in the state of North Carolina. It is home to numerous waterfalls, old growth forests, and mountain ranges like the Blue Ridge and Great Balsam mountains. Its vastness supports a variety of recreational and commercial activities including hiking, backpacking, and hunting. It is also the host to a number of signature North Carolina attractions.
The trailhead for Bard Falls is located on the unpaved Pineola Road near the town of Lineville North Carolina. The trailhead is remote and requires a long drive on unpaved roads to reach it; however the roads are usually in good condition and most vehicles should be able to get there. The drive to the trail is also through a very beautiful section of the forest and totally worth the drive. If you approach from the West, off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the unpaved portion will be about 5 and 1/2 miles. If you approach from the South, the Morganton side, you will drive on unpaved roads about 12 and 1/2 miles. The parking area for the trail is marked as North Harper Shortcut, or 266A, and is easy to spot off Pineola Road as it is well marked. Bard Falls is about 1 hour from Morganton North Carolina. There are no restroom facilities at the trailhead.
The trail starts at the marked trail #266A and is mostly all downhill to the falls which means you will be hiking uphill on the way back. The trail is easy to follow and is initially marked with white blazes. There are a few sections of the trail with steep drop-offs immediately off the trail so it isn’t recommended for small children.
The trail will continue downhill for about a mile, crossing a few small feeder creeks on the way. It will end at the intersection with the North Harper Creek trail where you will turn left. You will be paralleling North Harper Creek and after about 1/4 of a mile, you will need to cross the creek. Usually it isn’t too difficult but you will likely get your feet wet. If the creek is too high, don’t attempt to cross.
After crossing North Harper Creek continue on the trail for about 1/2 of a mile. When you reach Bard Falls, you will hear and see it on your left. It is a large cascade and should be very easy to spot. You can easily view it from the top but if you hike just a little past the falls you should find a steep scramble down to the base of the falls. This will probably be the most difficult part of the hike.
Bard Falls is exposed on a rocky surface that narrows the cascade as it reaches the bottom. There are also a few potholes in the rock that are easily spotted from the base of the falls. The crystal clear mountain water feeds into a calm pool at the bottom before the creek reforms and continues into the forest. It is a beautiful spot in the forest where you will want to kick-back and relax for a while.
The hike to Bard Falls is an out and back hike so hike safely back up to the parking area when you have finished enjoying the falls. Be safe when you cross back over the creek.