Turtleback Falls is a bonus waterfall. If you’re in the area of Turtleback Falls, you’re likely visiting the much larger Rainbow Falls, which is on the same trail. Rainbow Falls clocks in at 125′, whereas Turtleback Falls is about 20′ tall, though it doesn’t look that tall because of the angle you’ll be viewing the falls.
The thing with waterfall explorers…I want to add Turtleback Falls to the list, so once I reach Rainbow Falls, I walk about 0.2 miles further to find Turtleback Falls. Now I’ve got another one to add to the list! Turtleback Falls is a pretty waterfall, and in another area of North Carolina even, it would be a worthwhile stop. But with Rainbow Falls downstream, it probably gets a bit lost on the radar of most people.
The hike to Rainbow and Turtleback Falls is not a quick one. It’s about 3 miles round-trip to Rainbow Falls, and then about 0.4 miles additional hiking to get to Turtleback Falls. I don’t distinctly remember the hike, but I’ve been trying to record “my” difficulty right after the hike, and I rated it as on the moderate to strenuous side. That means there was probably a consistent amount of uphill/downhill hiking.
On US-64 between Lake Toxaway and Cashiers, you’ll find a road to Gorges State Park.
If you’re heading west from Lake Toxaway, you’re not far from the park. Turn left from US-64 onto NC-281 (also known as Whitewater Road) heading south.
After a mile on NC-281, turn left onto Grassy Ridge Road, which should lead into Gorges State Park.
You’re looking for the Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Trailhead, which is about as far as you can go on Grassy Ridge Road before you start looping back toward the other roads.
Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous) Height: 20′ Distance of Hike: 3.4 miles round-trip
Looking Glass Falls just so happens to be one of my favorite waterfalls in North Carolina, though there are a number of other equally impressive falls in the state. Looking Glass Falls is found in Pisgah National Forest in the waterfall-infested Transylvania County. The first plus is that is very easy to visit, being found right off of US-276. The drive to the falls is amazingly beautiful, even in the time just before spring.
Once you get to the falls, you have two options. The first option is to view the falls without much effort. It is disability accessible when not going to the base. Even from this viewpoint, it’s impressive. If you have the option of heading down the base, you definitely should. From here, you can get some great shots of the falls. The rock hanging to the upper right of the falls is uniquely interesting, and the shadows that form on the falls make this a gem.
From Brevard, drive north on US-276.
After about 5.5 miles you’ll pass the pullout/parking for Looking Glass Falls.
Pull off on the right, park, and head to the falls.
Moore Cove Falls is a cute little waterfall. It’s just overshadowed by other waterfalls that are much larger and showier that can be found in the vicinity. The much larger Looking Glass Falls is very close by. Still, if you’re in Transylvania County looking for waterfalls, Moore Cove Falls is a good choice to stop and visit. It’s easy to visit and the hike to the falls is quick, fun, and not too strenuous.
And as I’m writing this, I’ve discovered there’s another smaller waterfall along the same trail to Moore Cove Falls, just a ways further…somebody’s decided to call it Little Moore Cove Falls.
From Brevard, drive north on US-276.
After about 5.5 miles you’ll pass the pullout/parking for Looking Glass Falls. About a mile past that pullout is the parking for Moore Cove Falls.
There will be a wooden information sign on the right side of the road indicating the beginning of the trail. If you go over the bridge that is right near there, you’ve gone too far.
From the trail head, enjoy the fun trail to the falls!
Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: 1.2 miles round-trip
Cathey’s Creek Falls wasn’t impossible to find, just very tricky. For much of the way to the falls, you’re driving along a single-lane, dirt National Forest Road. It’s very curvy and inclined, so you have to drive at a pretty slow speed. This is the type of road that tends to stress me out, and I could feel its effects. You’re out in what seems like the middle of nowhere, and for most of the journey, there’s no real place to turn around. It can be very unnerving! In order to find the falls, I actually had to LISTEN for the falling water, as the falls are completely blocked from view on the road. Once you pull of the road, try to find the rather inconspicuous and steep trail down to the falls.
Cathey’s Creek Falls as a waterfall is actually very beautiful. Surrounded by rhododendrons, it was really a impressive view. Once you’re done visiting the falls, drive just a little bit further uphill, and if I remember correctly, there will be a bridge with an area that allows for easy turn around. Knowing there’s a place to do this beforehand may relieve some of the stress and allow more enjoyment at the falls!
From Brevard, drive west on Route 64 for about 3 miles.
Turn onto Cathey’s Creek Road. The road splits: head to the left. Keep driving.
When you reach the water treatment plant, keep going straight onto Forest Road 471.
Now you begin your climb up the mountain/hill. You will drive for about 2 more miles on FR471. Pay attention for a “pull-off” that will be on your right. It is NOT clearly marked. If I remember correctly, if you pass the pull-off and continue on, you will reach a bridge that crosses the creek. You can turn around there, and backtrack to the pull-off.
Try to find the trail that descends down to the creek. It is somewhat steep, which wasn’t too bad. The trail was not very firm, though, as there was a lot of mud that kept shifting. The trail is very short, though.
Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip