Grogan Creek Falls (11-18-17)
Just when I thought I had long since visited all the easily accessible waterfalls of note in my home of Transylvania County, along came this little gem. Perusing my waterfall guide, as I'm prone to do when debating the location of my next adventure, I was leafing through the familiar section on the Pisgah Ranger District and the name Grogan Creek Falls caught my attention. Hundreds of times I had been through this guide and, apparently, hundreds of times this particular cascade had failed to grab my attention. To my even greater surprise this wasn't because Grogan Creek required a tortuous or particularly long journey to get to. Four miles round trip from the familiar Pisgah Fish Hatchery trailhead along wide, well-marked paths would take me there. I immediately decided it would make a great quick afternoon walk. The very next day I headed over to see what I could see.
As stated, the hike begins and ends at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education (or simply, the Pisgah Fish Hatchery). The popular Cat Gap Loop Trail begins and ends here and I'd be following a portion of the north side of this loop on this hike. Heading out onto the familiar Cat Gap Loop where it begins by crossing a large concrete bridge over Cedar Creek, just behind the Education Center, I strolled first along the fence-lined edge of the hatchery property then crossed Cedar Creek again and began the moderate ascent up the river valley to the north of John Rock. About 3/4-mile from the start I made a couple side trips down to see two waterfalls I had been to many time previously...the lower and then upper portions of Cedar Rock Creek Falls. Each are located down short unmarked spur trails on the left which are easily spotted if you're paying attention. That, and you can hear and pretty much see both from the main trail as well. After visiting these first two falls I continued up the Cat Gap Loop to a point just before it turns to cross Cedar Creek once again. On the right at this point is a sign for the Butter Gap Trail which breaks right just past a large, long exposed rock. This intersection is a bit confusing, but just take an extra couple seconds to make sure you've made the right turn (you're looking for blue blazes), and the correct path should be obvious.
The Butter Gap Trail is now following the broad valley through which flows Grogan Creek. It's a fairly level trail as it passes by fields and wanders beneath stands of laurel. A bit over a half mile from the Cat Gap Loop you'll reach another intersection. Here the Long Branch Trail breaks off to the right. Continue on the Butter Gap Trail to the left. In a little less than half a mile the trail will have gotten right up alongside Grogan Creek and you'll see the falls through the trees below you to the left. A short, steep scramble path leads to its base. Though not huge, perhaps 20-feet in height, Grogan Creek Falls is a masterpiece of falling water. A perfectly balanced veil of water tumbles from the forest overhead down a rippled ledge. It's a beautifully serene place. I fell in love immediately. It was a joy to discover such a wonderful 'new' cascade such an easy walk into my Pisgah backyard.
After an enjoyable twenty minutes or so I simply returned to my car the way I had come. This was a fantastic short hike and I'd highly recommend it, especially if you want a waterfall that requires a bit of walking without any rugged terrain to cross. The Cat Gap Loop portion is a bit of a climb on the way in but it's wide and never more than moderate in difficulty. So, without further adieu, I present Grogan Creek Falls...as always, ENJOY!!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.284213, -82.791742
Mileage Hiked: 4.3 miles Hike Duration: 2:00
Trailhead Temp: 45'F Trail Traffic: 10-25 people
Min. Elevation: 2,350' Max. Elevation: 2,700'
Total Vertical Gain: 400' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 186'
Trails Used (Blaze Color):
Cat Gap Loop (orange), Butter Gap (blue)