I've officially caught the Headwaters State Forest bug. Not two days prior to this hike I had made my first exploratory trek within its boundaries to the magical Reese Place Falls. With that hike being such a spectacular success I quickly decided that I needed to get out there again...this time as with last to a seldom visited cascade...Graveley Falls.
Headwaters State Forest is (as of this writing) a soon-to-be piece of protected property along the North Carolina-South Carolina border in Transylvania County. Established in 2009 with the acquisition of land by local conservancy groups, Headwaters will eventually total around 8,000-acres in size. Named for it location surrounding the headwaters of the East Fork French Broad River the forest is a rugged and all but undeveloped piece of real estate containing wooded ridges and numerous waterfalls (although the advertised 20+ count may be a bit exaggerated). As of 2016 the forest exists more in concept than in actual reality. Based on varying reports I've read it could be 2018 or 2019 before the final land acquisitions are made and a comprehensive management plan is enacted. Beyond that an infrastructure still needs to be built. So, for those of us with a sense of adventure and a good map can experience this future state forest at its most raw...untouched yet by the hands of man.
The destination of this hike, Graveley Falls, is an easy one to get to. Follow the directions I've included below and pretty much anyone can successfully reach them. It's a short, fairly level, and easy-to-follow path. The falls themselves are small, but don't let that deter you. Tucked against a thick mantle of rhododendron and mountain laurel, mother nature has created a fantastic setting for this little cascade. So come along with me to another corner of the future Headwaters State Forest and see what I discovered...
Mileage Hiked: 1.2 miles Hike Duration: 0:50
Trailhead Temp: 75'F Trail Traffic: None!
Min. Elevation: 2,650' Max. Elevation: 2,780'
Total Vertical Gain: 130' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 108'
Directions (From Rosman) -Travel south on US-178 from Rosman and make a left onto East Fork Road. Follow East Fork Road east for 5.0 miles to Glady Fork Road on the right.
(From Brevard) -Travel south on US-276 and make a right onto East Fork Road. Follow East Fork Road west for 7.1 miles to Glady Fork Road which switches tightly back on the left.
-Take Glady Fork Road 2.7 miles to a gated forest road on the left marked 'DO NOT ENTER'. This unnamed road is just south of a private drive called Walden Ridge Trail. You'll know you're in the right spot when you see a small N.C. Forest Service tag on a tree alongside the gate.
-On foot now simply follow the obvious old road (bearing right at the fork less than a minute in!) for about 6/10 of a mile to an apparent dead end. You'll hear falling water ahead at that point, just follow the faint trail tunneling through the rhododendron in its direction!