Curtis Creek Falls
A long series of slides is in the upper part of Curtis Creek, dropping about 270 ft over a distance of about 580 ft. The most impressive and photogenic middle section is a drop of about 100 ft of continuous cascades, all visible from one spot, over sloping rock. The cascades jog sideways in some places and bounce off a ledge near the bottom. Trees arch high up over the rock face, and some impressively large ones grow in the forest here. It is absolutely gorgeous in the right conditions.
The falls will only look good during average to high water flow; there is a decent-sized draining basin up above which should keep it going for at least a little while after rains, though.
- Height: 100 ft all visible at once
- Elevation: 3275 ft
- Stream: Curtis Creek
- Landowner: Pisgah National Forest
- GPS: 35.724249, -82.189473
Note: reaching this waterfall requires off-trail travel in a rugged area. Though it ranks fairly low on the relative difficulty scale for bushwhacks, only hikers in good condition with off-trail experience should attempt it.
There is no trail to the falls, but an old logging road will get you about 3/4 of the way there from the nearest parking spot. It leads north from the left-hand hairpin turn on Curtis Creek Road at 35.722874, -82.184754, 2.3 mi south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The road goes through a small grassy opening, then basically follows the slope's contour to a crossing of a tributary stream in about 700 ft. (This stream is a good litmus test - if it is dry, don't bother continuing; if it has a small flow it's probably worth it because Curtis Creek is much larger).
Past the stream/seep, the old road curves left and continues westerly just uphill of level. It peters out into a faint path as you approach a rocky ridge. From here, you can start to hear Curtis Creek and the falls up ahead and at a slightly lower elevation. But there is about 500 ft of thick rhododendron on a steep slope between you and the falls. You can pick your way down to the creek or try to forge ahead on a more level contour, but exposed rock faces will gradually require you to move down toward the creek. That's OK, because that's where you want to wind up - the last few feet before the bottom of the falls are in open woods where it's a pleasant walk up the river-left (your right) side of the creek.
Going upstream through the open woods, you'll reach the base of the falls where it spills into a small pool and where a tributary branch comes in from the right. The best view is just above the lower-most cascade on a short run of flat-ish stream. Proceed carefully up and around the lower cascade on the right in the tributary's gully to reach it.
The upper-most tier of the falls (above what you can see from the base, with a very short flat-ish stretch of water in between) is an ugly short slide/cascade covered in deadfall, and requires an absolutely wicked climb up muddy, slick slopes replete with doghobble, briars, and fallen dead hemlock detritus to see from a dangerously sloping overgrown rock face perched on the stream bank. It is absolutely not worth it. Ask me how I know.