Waterfalls of Forest Road 475-B (5-27-17)
Forest Road 475-B...sounds like a place that's a bit off the beaten track doesn't it? Well, it is a bit but not as far as you might think. A grand total of 6.5-miles in length, 475-B connects U.S. Highway 276 near the Cradle of Forestry at its top end and Forest Road 475 just beyond the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. Its a bumpy road, typically passable by the average vehicle but it can be washed out and rutted at times. If you can find it though, and you want to see a handful of waterfalls without too much effort, then F.R. 475-B is the road for you. In this album I'll be visiting five of the easier to reach cascades that are accessible from the road. To be sure there are many more if you are a hardcore waterfaller but these five, I can say with a good deal of certainty, are accessible to pretty much anyone who can handle walking two miles.
The waterfalls in question are, in no particular order: Slick Rock Falls, Discovery Falls, Log Hollow & Upper Log Hollow Falls, and Logging Road Falls. The first listed is only a few hundred foot walk while the remaining four are reached from the same access point and require about 2.5 miles of walking. As mentioned Slick Rock is the shortest walk. The parking area for it is on a wide bend in the road about 1.1 miles above the south end of 475-B at F.R. 475, or about 5.4 miles down 475-B from its upper end at U.S. 276. A trail sign and kiosk mark the trailhead and its a short but steep 100-yard walk to the falls. Simple. Back at the car you have to drive 3.8-miles farther up 475-B to another wide, sharp bend with a brown metal gate and large forest management sign on the outside of it. This parking area is 4.9 miles up from F.R. 475 or 1.6 miles down from US 276. Beyond the metal gate an old forest road continues into the woods. This old road provides access either directly, or to spur trails, to the remaining four waterfalls.
Starting down the road you'll notice the grades are very easy to manage. This will continue as far as the road goes but the spur trails can be a bit steeper. Only about a quarter mile in from the gate you'll reach a very out-of-place concrete bridge, just prior to which you should notice a trail heading uphill into the woods. This is the quarter mile spur trail to Discovery Falls. This is the steepest path you'll need to ascend but, trust me, its worth it. Back on the gated forest road you'll reach another bridge, this one wooden, about a half mile from the trailhead. Logging Road Falls can be seen just upstream and a short spur trail to it enters the woods just beyond the bridge. From the end of the spur to Log Hollow you'll see a slightly fainter path ascending the hillside to the left of the falls. The is the short (0.1-mile), steep path up to Upper Log Hollow Falls. It's another one worth the bit of extra effort to see. From Log Hollow Falls the old forest road continues. After another half-mile of walking requiring a moderate climb and descent through a recently cut swath of forest you'll reach a broad grassy curve in the road, directly upstream of which is Logging Road Falls. This falls would be more impressive were it not for its extremely narrow channel which, by mid summer, is all but covered up by foliage blocking any view of the 70-foot falls. After a good rain in the winter might be the best time to see Logging Road, other wise only include it on this hike if you just feel like spending an extra mile strolling through the woods. After visiting Logging Road one simply retraces their steps for the mile back to the trailhead.
So, there you have it...a good overview of the beautiful and highly accessible waterfalls located along Forest Road 475-B. Come along with me on a hike I've done dozens of times and still never gets old. This hike certainly proves that beautiful waterfalls don't always have to require brutal effort to see. Let's go then and, as always...ENJOY!!!
F.R. 5043 Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.326465, -82.802080
Slick Rock Falls Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.293245, -82.798002
Mileage Hiked: 2.7 miles Hike Duration: 1:45
Trailhead Temp: 70'F Trail Traffic: 5-10 people
Min. Elevation: 3,200' Max. Elevation: 3,450'
Total Vertical Gain: 410' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 152'