Cove Creek Group Camp Pisgah National Forest,
Geographic Location: northwest of
Brevard, NC (35.28307, -82.81693)
Length: 5.2 miles
Difficulty: 5/10 (Moderate)
Last Hiked: September 2012
Overview: A lollipop loop featuring
. Cove Creek Falls
Trail Information: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=48430&actid=50
Hike Route Map: https://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=724134
Directions to the trailhead: From the
US 276/US 64 split on the north side of Brevard, take US 276 west 5.3 miles to Fish Hatchery Road (FR 475). Take a soft left on Fish Hatchery Rd. Follow Fish Hatchery Rd. 3.5 miles to the end of the pavement and the small trailhead parking area on the left opposite the signed Cove Creek Group Camp access road on the right. The trailhead parking area is large enough to hold 5 or 6 cars. Park here.
The hike: The
valley in the Davidson River northwest of Brevard contains the trailheads for many great hikes. The most popular trail in the area is the difficult Looking Glass Rock Trail, which leads to its famous namesake landmark. The Cat Gap Trail departs from the fish hatchery you pass on your way to this trailhead; it leads to John Rock, a smaller version of Looking Glass Rock. Further up the valley, the Farlow Gap Trail leads to spectacular Pisgah National Forest . Shuck Ridge Falls
Often lost in the smorgasbord of day-hiking is the Caney Bottom Loop described here. Perhaps this trail’s lack of popularity for dayhikers is due to the trailhead’s location at the group camp. The group camp is often booked to capacity on weekends, so plan a trip here on a weekday if solitude is what you desire. In spite of camp traffic, I only passed two other people on this trail during my visit on a nice Saturday in early fall.
|Gated road at trailhead|
At 0.2 miles, the gravel road passes a waterfall in Cove Creek to the right. Water cascades about 20 feet over several tiers. This small waterfall is nice, but it is only a warm-up for the one to come.
|View from top of small waterfall in Cove Creek|
The trail crosses a small creek on stepping stones and climbs on a gradual to moderate grade as it traces the perimeter of the campground, which can be seen downhill to the right. At 0.7 miles, the trail forks to form the loop. Turn right to follow the blue blazes of the Caney Bottom Trail; the yellow-blazed Cove Creek Trail continuing straight will be our return route.
|Campsite beside Cove Creek|
A very steep trail leads up the left side of the waterfall and connects with the return portion of this hike, but to see the entire Caney Bottom Loop, reverse course to the main blue-blazed trail and angle left to resume the loop. 1.4 miles into the hike, the trail crosses Cove Creek on a narrow wooden footbridge. Now on the east side of Cove Creek, the trail traces around the end of a ridge and enters the Caney Creek drainage.
|Bridge across Cove Creek|
|Log bridge on Caney Bottom Trail|
Just past the first of these bridges, I encountered a sequence of downed trees that forced me to crawl on hands and knees to proceed. At 2.3 miles, you reach the upper end of the blue-blazed Caney Bottom Trail where it intersects the yellow-blazed Cove Creek Trail, which goes right and left. Turning right would lead to a secondary parking area on FR 225, so you should turn left to head back to the group camp.
|Intersection with Cove Creek Trail|
The gradual descent continues as the ravine containing Cove Creek falls steeply to the left. 4.2 miles into the hike, you pass a brown carsonite sign marking a side trail to
. This trail is the upper end of the very steep trail you saw exiting the base of the waterfall earlier in the hike, so there is no need to follow this side trail if you saw the falls earlier. At 4.5 miles, the blue-blazed Caney Bottom Trail comes in from the left, indicating that you have closed the loop. Retrace your steps 0.7 miles first along the Caney Bottom Trail and then along the group camp access road to return to the parking area and complete the hike. Cove Creek Falls