Thursday, February 6, 2014

Kuykendall Falls and Catheys Creek Falls
Pisgah National Forest
Transylvania County, NC
Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Brenda, Van, and Me at Kuykendall Falls

It is hard to believe that it has been over 9 years since Waterfall Rich first posted about this Waterfall on Kuykendall Creek.  This one has been on my to do list ever since, but for some reason I have never gotten around to it.

So when Brenda left it up to me to come up with a hike idea for Sunday, I suggested Kuykendall Falls.  Brenda was up for the 10-mile hike and Bushwhack.  A last minute eMail that I sent out encouraged Van to join us as well.

We met up at the Golf Course Parking area outside of Brenda's Development (Sherwood Forest), off of US276 South of Brevard, NC.  Since we were not sure what condition the Cathey's Creek Road would be in, we decided to pile into my truck for the 15 minute drive to the trailhead.

It turns out the road is in good enough condition for just about any vehicle, but you just never know with these dirt Forest Service Roads.  We started the hike at FR5361 which is located off of Catheys Creek Road (FR471), about a half mile past the pull-off for Catheys Creek Falls.  We thought about checking out Catheys Creek Falls, but decided to save that for later if we still had time.

If it wasn't for the fact that FR5361 is gated, the road is in good enough condition that you would actually be able to drive most of the 4.6 miles to the point when we would leave the trail.  But since it is gated we would have to hike it!

The hike along FR5361 was pleasant but very uneventful.  Temperatures were right at freezing starting out, but would quickly rise.  There were just a few very small patches of snow in areas that never see the sun and some lingering ice formations from various seeps alongside the trail.  There are a few "through the trees" wintertime views, but no wide open vistas.

 Brenda taking a photo of some ice along the trail

The hardest part about getting to Kuykendall Falls is finding the best spot to leave the trail and begin the steep bushwhack down to Kuykendall Creek.  In Kevin Adam's "North Carolina Waterfalls" book he recommends leaving the road at 4.62 miles.  I am not sure if we left the trail at the exact spot that Kevin recommends.  Our descent down to the creek was definitely steep, but fairly easy.

We arrived at Kuykendall Creek a little bit upstream from the falls, but easily worked our way downstream to the waterfall.

 Kuykendall Falls

This one is definitely worth a visit if you are up for a 10-mile hike that includes some off trail bushwhacking!

Me at Kuykendall Falls

We took our main break of the day here to photograph the Falls.  It was overcast almost the entire day, except for the 45 minutes or so we spent at Kuykendall Falls.  For some reason the sun decided to shine brightly during the short period of time that we least wanted it to!

 Brenda and Van Bushwhacking alongside Kuykendall Creek

The bushwhack back up to FR5361 was definitely steep, but as far as bushwhacking goes, it was not overly difficult.

Rather than returning back the way we came, Brenda suggested making a loop out of the hike, so we continued North on FR5361 and soon joined up with the Art Loeb Trail near the base of Cedar Rock Mountain.  We took the Art Loeb Trail to the West for about a mile to the Butter Gap Shelter.

 Van at the Butter Gap Shelter

We left the Art Loeb Trail at Butter Gap and took a trail that Brenda knew about, but does not show up on any map that I have seen.  Despite the fact that it is not on my Pisgah Map and is not blazed in any way, it was well maintained and easy to follow all the way back to FR5361.  This unofficial trail is probably the remnants of an old logging road.  It parallels Cedar Rock Creek most of the way, crossing it a couple of times.

I sometimes get a little nervous doing long loop hikes when you are not 100% sure of the route you are taking, but Brenda seemed confident and it turned out to be a much more enjoyable return hike than just heading back the way we came.

Here is the GPS track from our hike

 GPS Track

Also, you can read Brenda's trip report with a little more detail about the route we took here:
http://www.brendajwiley.com/kuykendall_falls.html


Catheys Creek Falls
By the time we finished up our hike, there was still plenty of time left to make a visit to Catheys Creek Falls and still make it home in plenty of time for Super Bowl Kickoff!

Catheys Creek Falls can be viewed from the road, however a short path takes you to the base and offers of a much better view.  There is a small pull-off with room for one or two vehicles.  The path to the base starts from this pulloff.  It is very steep and badly eroded, but is still the best way to get to the base of Catheys Creek Falls.

 Catheys Creek Falls


 Brenda at Catheys Creek Falls

After a few shots from the left side of the creek, I decided that I wanted to get across to the other side of the creek for a different angle.  I basically had (3) choices:
1.  Scramble across some wet and icy rocks right about another 10 foot drop
2.  Shimmy across a downed log suspended about 5 feet above the creek, or
3.  Wade across the creek

Since my boots were already wet, I chose option #3.  The deepest part looked to be about knee high, but turned out to be a good bit deeper than I was expecting! 

 Me in the Creek (Photo by Brenda)

While the air temperature had warmed up to near 70-degrees, the water temperature certainly had not.  But for me it was worth it to get a angle that most people don't get!

 Catheys Creek Falls

We also decided to explore a short distance downstream where there are a few more smaller drops below the main waterfall.

 Brenda (near top of the photo), and Van (closer to the center) downstream from Catheys Creek Falls

 Nice Cascade downstream from Catheys Creek Falls


This turned out to be an awesome day of hiking and waterfall wandering!  And I did make it home in plenty of time for Super Bowl Kickoff! 

My complete set of photos is posted here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/sets/72157640504282406/



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