Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015-10-23 John B. Neale Falls and Bernie's Falls

John B. Neale Falls and Bernie's Falls
Pisgah National Forest
Transylvania County, NC
with Andy, Thomas and Kitty
Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Me at Bernie's Falls

Since our vacation year ends on October 31st and my company does not allow us to carry over vacation days, I usually end up with a few vacation days to use up come October.  This year was no exception.  Therefore, I took the opportunity to join Andy, Thomas, and Kitty on a hike to check out two waterfalls that I have yet to visit!

These are located on Public Property (Pisgah National Forest Gamelands).  However, there are no official trails.  There is a large network of forest service roads and old logging roads that traverse the area.  Therefore, there is not a whole lot of bushwhacking required, however you really need a good map as these roads can get very confusing.

Thomas, Andy, and Kitty trying to figure out where the heck we are!

We parked along Tanasee Gap Road at the gated FR9999 and followed that downhill to Parker Creek.  Once at the creek, we followed that downstream crossing back and forth from one side to the other several times.

At a little over a mile into the hike, a tributary flows from the North into Parker Creek.  If you come to a clearing where Parker Creek enters into farmland, you have entered into private property and have gone to far.    John B. Neale Falls is located a few hundred yards up this unnamed tributary stream.

John B. Neale Falls

John B. Neale Falls was more impressive than I was expecting.  Unfortunately the bright sun was shining directly on the waterfall making for less than optimal photo conditions.

 Andy, Kitty, and Thomas photographing John B. Neale Falls

To avoid trespassing over private property, we back tracked a short ways and found a faint side trail heading up the hill.  This side trail would be tough to spot if you weren't looking for it, but once on it, it is pretty easy to follow.  This pretty much took us up and over the mountain from Parker Creek to the Miser Creek area.

Some nice Fall Color along the trail

At an obvious 4-way intersection we turned right.  We could hear Bernie's Falls down the hill to our left.  But rather than head down to the base here, we continued on to the flats upstream from Bernie's Falls, where we crossed Miser Creek and arrived near the brink of the Falls.

Do not be tempted to try and get to the actual brink of Bernie's Falls as there is a high probability of death if you decide to do so!  Instead we continued on downstream safely away from the brink on river right.

A steep by obvious scramble path takes you down behind the main drop of Bernie's Falls

Kitty and Andy behind the main drop of Bernie's Falls

To work our way down to the base, we crossed over to river left behind the main drop and made our way down to the best vantage point of the awesome Bernie's Falls, named after the legendary waterfall explorer Bernie Boyer!

 Bernie's Falls

Photos do not doe this one justice!  Bernie's Falls is much more impressive in person.  The next photos include some of my Team Waterfall Hiking Buddies to give a better sense of scale!

Thomas and Kitty at Bernie's Falls

 Thomas Photographing Bernie's Falls
(note: I don't recommend trying to get where Thomas is standing!)

After a good bit of time photographing and enjoying the falls, we returned back to the main trail.  From here we pretty much followed the route that Waterfall Rich describes in his www.ncwaterfalls.com Bernie's Falls writeup.

This was an awesome hike to two awesome waterfalls with awesome friends and awesome weather!  Did I mention we had an awesome time!  Total distance of our hike was about 7.0 miles.

 Estimated Hike Route (my best guesstimate!  Not based on actual GPS data)

My complete set of photos is posted here:

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