Setrock Creek Falls – June Quick Hike

For prints, please click here: Setrock Creek Falls – Fine Art America . 

I visited Setrock Creek Falls recently, on the same deary day that I visited Roaring Fork Falls. These 2 waterfalls are usually always visited together as they are both off the same turnoff from NC Hwy 80. While Setrock Creek Falls is considerably higher at 75 feet than Roaring Fork Falls, which sits around 40 feet, I still consider Roaring Fork Falls to be the main attraction here, due to water flow. The picture above was taken in an ideal situation, on a cloudy, foggy day with a good deal of recent rain. A hike during drier times could leave viewers disappointed.

To get here, find your way to the intersection of NC Hwy 80, passing under the Blue Ridge Parkway. You will be in the vicinity of Mount Mitchell, accessed via NC 128 about 15 miles south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head north on Hwy 80 2-3 miles. Look for a left turn on South Toe River Rd. (If you see the Mount Mitchell Golf Course and Clubhouse on NC 80, you will have gone too far). Roaring Fork Falls turnoff will be an immediate left. I highly recommend taking this 1/2 mile hike to a very scenic, yet unique waterfall. Otherwise, stay on South Toe River Rd for several miles. It starts out paved, then turns to gravel, but is well maintained. Pass by many views of the golf course, homesites, and rental homesites, and the road gradually heads deep into the forest. The South Toe River will be running along the passenger side. Expect some up close, scenic views of this pretty river. The road soon makes a sharp turn to the right, almost appearing to head back the other way. Take this, it will round out and bring you out at a small parking area with a big info board for the Pisgah National Forest.

There will be several trails heading out into the forest here including the Mountains To Sea. I have yet to venture on these to see where they go, but hey….it’s more trails to hike! To get to Setrock Creek Falls, head up the road a tad more, the cross the South Toe River on a bridge into the Black Mountains Campground. This is a large campground, look for the office to be on the right once you cross the bridge.

  Once the office is into view, look for the signs to Mt Mitchell.  This will also be the way if you are following the MST, so the familiar white circle blazes will be around.  Following the signs, the road will turn left across from the office.  Follow this on out of the campground.  The South Toe River will be flowing off the left side of the road here.  In a short ways, pass by the trailhead for Mt Mitchell.  If you have an entire day, turn here for an epic 5.6 mile hike that will ascend nearly 4000 feet to get you to the summit of the 6,684 ft high Mt Mitchell.  If you are only here for the waterfall, better pass this one by… 



Most people visit the top of Mt Mitchell by driving to the top with only a short paved trail to arrive at the summit. If you are one that would get a better feeling by doing it this way, here is a detailed trip report from Zach’s Mild Adventures…Mt Mitchell.

Just past the Mt Mitchell trailhead, is another trailhead for Setrock Creek Falls.   

      This is a much easier choice than the prior trail, as it is only 1/4 mile long at most.  It does climb a little but is still rated easy.  Once at the waterfall, it can be tricky to get across the creek to the spot where I believe the best photos can be taken.  There used to be a decent log to cross here, but it has deteriorated and did not seem to be a safe way to cross on this day.  A little ways upstream, the creek can be rock hopped, but that was even dicey today with the higher than normal water levels.  Once across, it is much more open, with a nice, direct view of this 5 tiered 75 ft cascade.  It looks very nice when it has a nice flow, and makes for a decent photo when the top is not all “whited out” due to the sun.   


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