Cedar Rock Falls – A Beautiful Yet Painful Waterfall Hike

It had been a wonderful July waterfall weekend.  After a month since my last waterfall visit, I was eager to get out this weekend and see all that I could.  For the last waterfall on Sunday afternoon, I chose to visit Cedar Rock Falls as I was making my way through Brevard, NC.   Cedar Rock Falls is a 20 foot waterfall that lies just off the Cat Gap Loop Trail in the Pisgah National Forest.  It is fairly close to Looking Glass Falls.  This is a waterfall that I had yet to see and is also one listed on Carolina Moutain Club’s Waterfall 100 challenge.  I could have….and probably should have just drove through Brevard and headed home, but the close location and the nice afternoon cloud cover that had developed convinced me to see one more.  

From the U.S. 64/276 and NC 280 intersection in Brevard, head north on U.S. 276 for 5.2 miles. Make a left onto Fish Hatchery Rd, and pull into the large Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.  This is just past the trailhead for the 6.4 mile round trip hike to the top of Looking Glass Rock.  This is a large area with lots of parking spaces.  Walk towards the Pisgah Center, then to the left of it.  Look for the gated road and head that way.  Just over the bridge and to the right is the trailhead to the Cat Gap Loop Trail.  Take this for just under a mile.  There will a foot bridge that crosses Cedar Rock Creek.  The trail is fairly easy to moderate.  Some photos from the trail: 


The trail kind of follows a green fence on the right for a good ways.  It seperates a research area that is off limits to hikers.  Once the trail got the 0.7 mile mark, Cedar Rock Falls can be seen and heard downhill to the left.  A side trail branches off here.  This is where you leave the orange blazed Cat Gap Loop Trail.  The side trail heads down towards the falls, then a large tree that has fallen over the trail must be crossed.  This is where my day changed.  I got one leg over the log as I always do, then without seeing the large roots on the other side, got my foot caught in some roots.  As the weight of my body shifted over the log, my knee did something crazy and I found myself on my back grimacing in severe pain.  

 After a minute or so laying there, not knowing if my right leg was broken or what, I made my way up.  It was painful, but I could walk and put some weight on it.  Since I was right at the falls, I figured I would just walk it off and go on my way.  I slowly made my way down some dry rocks and got set up for some photos that I was very pleased with.   

   I tried a few different compositions and was pleased with both.  The Rosebay Rhododendron were blooming beautiful, helping to add to the beauty of the scene.  This may only be a 20 foot waterfall with a fairly low flow, but it was beautiful. 
The return trip was somewhat difficult.  I made the 0.9 mile return trip fairly easy without incident.  As I lay here writing this though, my knee swelled up considerably overnight.   I will be headed out soon for a diagnosis, my gut feeling is a knee sprain.  This was certainly not the trail I thought would get me, but you never know.  It is still a pretty easy and a very nice trail…just watch your footing crossing that log. 

3 thoughts on “Cedar Rock Falls – A Beautiful Yet Painful Waterfall Hike”

  1. Beautiful images, thank you. THis reminds me of Ricketts Glen in Northern PA. My wife and I just hiked there this weekend. We didn’t have any falls, but your images could almost have been taken there.

  2. Great falls and bummer about the knee I had a similar injury right here at home so it can happen anywhere. ACL injuries don’t heal well as mine still pops and gives me pain…Good luck!

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