Seniard Ridge Trail to Log Hollow Falls, Pisgah National Forest

Occasionally a nice easy stroll to a beautiful waterfall is just what the doctor ordered. I made this a three and a half mile loop, but you can actually get to the waterfall in a mile round trip. The woods off FR 475B in Pisgah National Forest are dense and filled with mountain streams running down from the Blue Ridge high above. One of these streams is Log Hollow Branch. Wherever you find mountain streams you are also likely to find waterfalls. Despite the allure, for some reason this one doesn’t get a lot of traffic. Easy to get to, seldom seen, Log Hollow Falls. I hiked to Log Hollow Falls on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 between 11:00AM and 12:45PM. My plan was to take Case Camp Ridge Trail to Seniard Ridge Trail, then on to the waterfall, returning on FR 475B.

Hike Length: 3.7 miles Hike Duration: 1.75 hours

Hike Configuration: Makeshift loop Blaze: Blue

Hike Rating: Easy. Piece of cake. C’mon, get out there.

Elevation Change: 360 feet Elevation Start: 3,340 feet

Trail Condition: Very good. Half forest road, half single track trail.

Starting Point: Case Camp Ridge trailhead on Forest Road 475B.

Trail Traffic: I encountered two other photographer hikers on the waterfall trail.

How to Get There: From Brevard, NC get on Scenic Hwy 276 west into Pisgah National Forest. After roughly 9 miles, turn left onto FR 475B (Headwaters Rd). Proceed to Case Ridge Gap, one mile down this gravel road. The beginning of the trail is marked by a set of steps across from a small parking area at FR 5041.

 

Before I started hiking, I went to another waterfall that is right along the side of Fish Hatchery Road (FR 475) in the national forest. It’s just a half mile past the hatchery in the bend of a sweeping left turn. There is a small pullout there with enough room for two cars. In all the many times I had driven past previously, I’d never noticed this small waterfall. It took seeing a photo on the Internet to entice me to see it for myself.

Known as Rockhouse Falls, it’s just down the bank on the right side of the road, no more than 25 yards away. Rockhouse Creek spills over this 6-foot slide just before it plunges through a culvert beneath the forest road. There are two nice places to view Rockhouse Falls one from the road bank, and the other from a cove that surrounds the plunge pool.

I noticed while I was there that a small trail continues into the forest along Rockhouse Creek. Being the curious Meanderthal that I am, I proceeded without trepidation. 50 yards later, the trail crosses the creek to a pretty nice campsite. The trail petered out another 50 yards beyond the campsite, but it certainly looked like you could follow the creek farther as it parallels the lower section of FR 475B.

As you can see, it was quite overcast on this day, nice conditions for waterfall pictures. Interesting how I never noticed Rockhouse Falls before when driving past. Now that I know it's there, I will make a point of looking.

As you can see, it was quite overcast on this day, nice conditions for waterfall pictures. Interesting how I never noticed Rockhouse Falls before when driving past. Now that I know it’s there, I will make a point of looking.

Satisfied now, I was ready for some hiking. The trail I had picked is just a few miles up Hwy 276, past Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock, and then a left turn on Forest Road 475B. It’s just one more mile then on 475B to the Case Camp Ridge trailhead. Meanderthals has hiked Case Camp Ridge before, but today I would only be on it for a brief little while. It’s just a quarter mile uphill mostly through a rhododendron tunnel to the junction with Seniard Ridge Trail.

Seniard Ridge Trail is an old logging road, so it’s quite a bit wider than Case Camp. After a half mile, there is a trail sign on the left for Seniard Ridge Trail. What? I was confused. I sure didn’t remember this the last time I was here. What I did remember was that Log Hollow Falls was on a road. So instead of following the sign, I continued straight ahead on the old logging road. Wrong.

I went perhaps another half mile, reached a campsite, and then the trail just ended. Hmm. I backtracked a ways to see if I missed a turn up the hill on the right. Nope. Well, I guess I need to go back to that trail sign. So I did, feeling both sheepish and disoriented. It worked out okay though, as things usually do. I got to see some baccharis halimifolia (groundsel) plants with the dandelion-like spores on full display, and there was a great view of Looking Glass Rock through the trees.

Now on the single track Seniard Ridge Trail, it loses all the elevation gained on Case Camp as it winds through dense hardwood forest. With fallen leaves covering the trail, it was difficult to see hazards, and I managed to roll my ankle stepping on a root buried beneath those leaves. Rather than making it worse by trying to catch myself, my brain made a split-second decision to take a controlled fall. So I rolled down to the ground, paused for a moment to see if I hurt anywhere, and decided it was only my ankle.

I rubbed it some, decided it was okay to stand, and tested it with a few steps. Slight discomfort, but good to continue. I pulled the laces extra tight and pressed onward. Soon after, I reached the junction with retired Forest Road 5043. There’s a big sign here about forest management and watershed, and a gate that prevents vehicles from entering this no-longer-used road. However, FR 5043 is the continuation of Seniard Ridge Trail, and the road that I remembered before. Aha!

As the largest single supplier of water in the nation, our National Forests and Grasslands are truly the headwaters of America. These lands provide reliable water supplies for more than 123 million Americans in nearly 1,000 U.S. cities. Forests act like a giant sponge as snowpack melts in the spring - providing a natural cleansing filter, replenishing underground aquifers, and regulating runoff to prevent floods and erosion and to ensure water flows during the later seasons of the year.

As the largest single supplier of water in the nation, our National Forests and Grasslands are truly the headwaters of America. These lands provide reliable water supplies for more than 123 million Americans in nearly 1,000 U.S. cities.
Forests act like a giant sponge as snowpack melts in the spring – providing a natural cleansing filter, replenishing underground aquifers, and regulating runoff to prevent floods and erosion and to ensure water flows during the later seasons of the year.

If you want to take the short, half mile trip to Log Hollow Falls rather than getting lost and rolling your ankle like I did then you can continue down FR 475B in your car another mile past FR 5041 to this junction with FR 5043. There’s enough room to park 2-3 cars. From here it’s flat and easy going. You cross one footbridge after a quarter mile and then reach a 2nd a quarter mile later. I passed a couple guys carrying cameras and tripods, and nodded acknowledgement that they were here for the same reason I was.

The second foot bridge crosses Log Hollow Branch and to your right is the falls. There is a short spur trail that goes near the base of the falls for closeup views. I wasn’t satisfied though, as you can get even closer by crossing the creek. I looked around for the most advantageous spot to do so. You would think by now I would have learned a lesson with the twisted ankle, but noooo, I had to cross a creek on slippery rocks and logs just to get a picture.

I made it safely, and was glad I did. The photo at the top of this post is the one I thought I could get from the other side. Click it for a larger image. It was extremely moist at the base of the 25′ waterfall, prime growing territory for fungus and moss. I stayed for 15 minutes, munching on a snack, and enjoying the solitary serenity. When I got back to the junction, I just walked up FR 475B to my car to complete the loop.

You can continue beyond Log Hollow Falls to another waterfall just a short quarter mile later, and if you’re really adventurous, Seniard Ridge Trail goes all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a strenuous hike, following the ridge, but quite rewarding with fabulous views overlooking the bulk of Pisgah Ranger District.

 

 

This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.

 

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  • ashevillain

    I did this exact hike a few months ago. I found that it was easiest/safest to photograph while standing IN the creek. Sometimes keeping one’s feet dry is not the safest means to an end.

  • Ginger King Jackson

    I made the same mistake you did last fall. My dogs and I encountered a rattlesnake on the forest service road before we made it to the waterfall. I made a quick about face before the dogs saw it. Plan on trying the hike up to the parkway soon while the snakes aren’t sunning themselves.