Pisgah’s Waterfall Wonderland: Moore Cove Falls

DSC_0066    Moore Cove Falls is located in Western North Carolina not far from the city of Brevard, nestled deep within the beautiful Pisgah National Forest. The waterfall is one of the more popular sites along HWY 276, including the ultra popular roadside Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock. This is an easy to moderate hike with very little elevation gain, so it’s a very good hike for families. Marked with yellow blazes, this heavily visited 1.5 mile out and back trail is easy to follow and well maintained by the local Forest Service.

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Fall in Pisgah National Forest

From the southerly direction of HWY 280(Brevard), head north up HWY 276 for about 6.5 miles(1 mile past Looking Glass Falls) to the parking area on the right just before an old concrete bridge. There is a wooden kiosk with information located near the trailhead. From the north and The Blue Ridge Parkway, head south for about 8.2 miles until you cross the bridge and see the parking area on the left.

 

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Pisgah Highway bridge over Looking Glass Creek

The trail begins to the right of the concrete bridge near the kiosk. Cross over Looking Glass Creek on the wooden foot bridge and begin a steady uphill climb. The trail system was improved in 2011 by the Forest Service, so the trail is level and fairly wide. The are a few wet spots along the way, but most are traversed by wooden boardwalks. The trail follows the Moore Creek tributary through dense forest and crosses several small bridges along the way. After about 3/4 of a mile you will reach the secluded cove and falls.

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Because of its ease of access and overall popularity, I enjoy hiking Moore Cove in the winter when the crowds are gone and other areas of the Parkway are inaccessible due to weather. Often times in winter a big cone of frozen water forms at the bottom of the waterfall. The hike is also very popular in the Spring(mid April) when the wildflowers are in abundance. Fall season brings the leaf peepers to the area, so expect crowds during this time of year. The falls are tucked away in a cove of a dense hardwood forest, so the falls are framed in color in the Autumn season.

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Autumn at Moore Cove

The falls are fed by a low flow creek, so the waterfall is best viewed after a good rain event.  The 50 foot showering freefall spills over a massive cliff into a cove-like setting. You can view the falls from a viewing platform or continue on down to the base of the falls where you can walk directly behind them. If the weather is hot enough, you may decide to walk through the falls for a very cold shower. There are also towering rock overhangs, so the area feels a bit like a cave in spots. Take a moment to rest, sit on one of the large rocks and take in all the beautiful sights and sounds of this amazing setting.

A bonus to the hike is a 2nd waterfall in the area if you can find it. The small falls is located to the left on a lesser trail and closed campsite just a short distance before arriving at Moore Cove. The area can be wet and mucky and involves stream crossings, so you could get your feet wet here. The small falls is reduced to a trickle in the summer and periods of drought.

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Note: Areas around waterfalls are very slippery, have swift moving water and currents may be present. Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near or jump off waterfalls. Moore Cove has had several deaths in recent years from people attempting to climb up around the top ledge of the falls.

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Showering Moore Cove Falls

Transylvania County is known as “The Land Of Waterfalls”, so consider visiting some of the many other waterfalls in the area. Looking Glass, Twin Falls, Log Hollow, Slick Rock and Daniel Ridge Falls are just some of the many waterfalls you can visit. The Cradle of Forestry and Sliding Rock are also popular sites with visitors to Pisgah. For additional information, maps and restrooms stop by the ranger station and visitors center 2 miles up HWY 276(1600 Pisgah Highway ).

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The trails are maintained by volunteers and donations from supporters of The Pisgah Conservancy. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Help keep these and many other trails maintained and open to hikers. Leave no trace:

  • Plan ahead, Be prepared.
  • Travel and camp on designated trails and surfaces.
  • Dispose of waste. Pack in – Pack out.
  • Leave what you find.
  • Minimize campfire impacts.
  • Respect wildlife – Flora and Fauna
  • Be considerate to others

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“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir

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Bridge Crossing of Moore Creek

 

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