An easy to reach and beautiful 20ft waterfall in a newly formed North Carolina state forest.
In the newly formed Headwaters State Forest of North Carolina, is the stunningly beautiful waterfall – Graveley Falls. At only about 20 feet high, the falls aren’t too tall, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. It is a charming waterfall in a secluded and remote section of the forest yet relatively easy to reach. The hike to the falls is just a little over 1/2 a mile with very little elevation change.
Headwaters State Forest is the newest state forest in North Carolina officially opened in September of 2018. It consists of 6,730 acres of land that is now forever protected and available to the public. It is also adjacent to almost 100,000 acres of protected land in South Carolina contributing to an already large area of public lands. Combined these lands in both North and South Carolina provide an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities and sights.
The trailhead to Graveley Falls is located just off Glady Fork Road near Brevard, North Carolina. The trailhead isn’t marked so you will have to look for a small gravel road with a cable blocking access to it. It is about 2 and 1/2 miles south of East Fork Road just past Walden Ridge Trail. Look for it on the left side of the road if you approach from East Fork Road. There isn’t an official parking area so you will need to park on the side of the road. Make sure you are completely off the road and that you don’t block the gate. The trailhead is about 30 minutes from Brevard North Carolina. There are no restroom facilities at the trailhead.
The trail starts immediately beyond the cable and is marked with a Headwaters State Forest sign. For the majority of the hike, the trail is on the wide and well maintained dirt road as it wanders into the forest. This is a beautiful section of the forest with a mix of hardwoods and pines.
Fairly quickly you will encounter a split in the trail where you will want to take the right fork and follow this as it slowly descends and parallels the creek. Stay on this for about 1/2 a mile until it ends with two smaller trails before you. The trail on the right goes to the top of the falls, and the trail on the left goes to the bottom.
Taking the trail on the right is very short, maybe 50 feet, and puts you directly at the top of the falls for a unique perspective. Be extremely careful here and don’t step on any wet rocks as you will likely lose your footing. The area for enjoying the view from the top is somewhat small but worth checking out.
When you have finished enjoying the falls from this perspective, head back up the trail and take the other trail down to a better view of the falls and a short steep trail leading down to the base of the falls.
Very quickly after taking the left trail, you will get a great view of the falls from a brief clearing in the brush. Just after this is a short but very steep trail that leads down to the creek and pool just below the falls. This part of the hike is not recommended for small children as it is somewhat steep and, even though you are at the bottom of Graveley Falls, the trail puts you just above another cascade. However, for the careful hiker, the views at the bottom of this trail are quite rewarding.
The large pool at the base of the falls is also a great spot for cooling off your feet on a warm summer day. Be mindful of the cascades just below Graveley Falls as there isn’t much space for viewing the falls unless you are willing to get your feet wet.
This is an out and back hike, so when you have finished enjoying Graveley Falls, hike safely back to the parking area.