Kuykendall Falls

Kuykendall Falls

Nikon D800, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 22mm, f/22, 1 second, ISO 200, polarizing filter.

Beauty Rating:
6
Accessibility:
Trail and bushwhack
River:
Kuykendall Creek
River Basin:
French Broad
Watershed:
Small
Elevation:
3,040 ft
Type and Height:
Short free fall above and cascades over mini-ledges below; the total height is about 35 feet
Landowner:
Pisgah National Forest, Pisgah Ranger District
County:
Transylvania
USGS Map:
Rosman
Hike Distance:
About 4.7 miles
Hike Difficulty:
5-10
Photo Rating:
6
Compass:
320°
Canopy:
Partial
Waterfall GPS:
Trailhead GPS:
Google Earth Waterfall Download View waterfall on Google Earth. Link is for a Google Earth file. Click file after download and Google Earth will open and fly to the waterfall. Don't have Google Earth on your computer?

Driving Directions

If you’re in the Davidson River vicinity of the national forest, drive to Gloucester Gap, which is on FR 475 some 6.05 miles from US 276. From the gap, take FR 471 (Catheys Creek Road) for 4.45 miles to the gated FR 5361, on the left. This point is 0.35 mile before Catheys Creek Falls.

To get here from downtown Brevard, drive 3.3 miles west on US 64, turn right at the sign for Kuykendall Group Camp, make an immediate left on Catheys Creek Road, and drive 3.55 miles to FR 5361, on the right. You’ll pass Catheys Creek Falls on the way. Catheys Creek Road is unpaved after 0.7 mile.

Hike Description

Take FR 5361 beyond the gate. The first 4.5 miles of the hike follow this old logging road on a moderate, winding, undulating course. The biggest problem is figuring out exactly where to leave the road and climb down the bank to the falls. There are no good indicators, and it’s impossible to guess when you’ve hiked 4.5 miles. I’ll mention a few landmarks along the way and try to give you enough information to pick the right spot to leave the road.

After 0.95 mile, you’ll cross Kagle Branch and start skirting the southwest flank of Kagle Mountain. At 1.98 miles, you’ll swing left around a ridge where a flat, open area is on the outside of the curve. In another 0.9 mile, make a left swing around a ridge with a flat, open area to the right. You’ll do the same thing for a third time in another 0.88 mile. At this point, you’re about 3.76 miles from the trailhead. To the northwest are views of the imposing cliffs of Cedar Rock Mountain.

At 0.63 mile from the open area, you’ll cross a small stream that may not have much flow in summer. In another 110 yards, you’ll swing around a dry drainage. Just under 0.1 mile from the drainage, make a sharp left swing around a ridge. The GPS reading for this point is N35.24288, W-82.78928 . Continue on the road for about 135 feet, then turn right and follow the drainage down to Kuykendall Creek. There is no trail, but you should come out close to the falls if you head toward the sound of falling water. It’s less than 0.2 mile down to the falls. It’s steep, and once you reach the creek you’ll have to wade through dog hobble and rhododendron.

On my last visit, there was flagging tape marking a route down the ridge. But that route doesn’t lead to the falls. You can follow the ridge down to the creek, but you’ll come out below the falls and have to do a lot more bushwhacking.

Overview

Thanks to a hike that measures nearly 5 one-way miles and the extremely steep climb down the mountainside, this waterfall is not for everyone. The view rewards those who do make the trek, however. While I wasn’t impressed on my last visit as much as on my first visit 10 years ago, I still think this is a beautiful waterfall. And it makes a great photo subject. If you make the hike in winter, you’ll also be rewarded with numerous distant views from the forest road. Perhaps the ideal way to see the waterfall is to ride a mountain bike on the forest-road portion. The road has just the right balance of ups and downs to give the average cyclist a good workout. Hard-core riders might not find it challenging.

The Rosman topo map has Kuykendall Falls in the wrong location. It’s a little ways downstream from the mark.