Rob McComas in front of Big Bradley Falls in Saluda. (photo submitted)

Big Bradley Falls, sense of smallness in grandeur

Published 3:53pm Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Western North Carolina is blessed beyond measure with an abundance of natural beauty. And ranking high for lots of folks, in those blessings from above, are the many waterfalls that highlight our streams and rivers.
Waterfalls in our area vary greatly. Some are shear drops, some are multi-tiered with several falls making one large one, some are more of a slide, some are prevailing while others are rather subtle.
I guess the variations are part of what keeps them interesting, it’s not an “ if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all” scenario. I find myself standing in front of a waterfall many times and thinking this might be my favorite, then when I’m in front of the next one I’m thinking, this might be my favorite.
Some folks know I really enjoy landscape photography, and while I’ll be the first to admit I am not very good at it, the efforts involved in getting a good shot are quite the challenge. And while I have a deep appreciation for a good shot of a fall, even the best picture will not begin to compare with experiencing a waterfall in person.
Consider our own Big Bradley falls. A picture can only show a small glimpse of this shear walled mini gorge. The ruggedness can only be valued standing at the base of the falls. This small section of Cove creek is as intimidating as it gets. Vertical granite walls on either side give you a sense of smallness in the grandeur of God’s creation.
And the fall itself is quite a site. Estimates are between 65 feet and 100 feet, I would guess closer to the 65 feet side; pretty much a shear drop off.
Access to the falls is a flip of the coin. You can get there by traveling Holberts Cove road. From Silver Creek Road, turn left onto Holberts Cove Road, you will travel until you cross Cove Creek (its not a bridge just a big culvert).
There is a large parking lot on the right side of the road where the trail begins. This is the shortest distance to the falls, about ¾ of a mile or less. A moderately difficult trail crosses Cove Creek and leads to an overlook.
You can access the base of the falls from here as I did, but it is not advised. The descent is extremely dangerous. I have no idea what I was thinking going down that way.
A longer but easier access is from Green River Cove Road. After turning left off of Silver Creek Road, travel across the second bridge over Green River and turn into Wilderness Cove campground. The trail is approximately 1 ½  miles. I have not been in from this side, so I have no input.
There are few folks who have described the trail from this side; You can find there directions via Google.
And one more thought, now is the time, no crowds, no bugs, etc.

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