Getting there: From Asheville NC head east on I-40, taking exit #73, the second Old Fort exit. Just before the end of the exit ramp, turn right onto Catawba River Road. If traveling west on I-40, take exit #73, turn left at end of the ramp onto Bat Cave Road going back under the interstate, turn right on the short two way section of the east bound ramp and make a quick left onto Catawba River Road. Drive 3 miles to the end of Catawba River Road and park in the designated parking lot there.
The parking lot is new and there are now bathrooms there. The trailhead begins out of the northwest corner just past the trail and information "kiosk." Most of the trail follows a nicely graded and shaded trail bed; there are three creek crossings along the 1.5 mile hike out, and a couple of places where there are scrambles through rocks, but most of the trail is easy walking. Almost immediately there is the first creek crossing that will put the headwaters of the Catawba River on your left side for the rest of the walk. If there has been a recent rain, you might just need to take off your shoes and wade across (or wear good hiking/wading shoes for this hike). A second and easier creek crossing will take you across Clover Patch Branch, another small tributary that joins into the Catawba. After this creek crossing you will pass an old concrete dam, allegedly built in 1923 as part of a small hydro-electric facility. While interesting, it is also quite dangerous, so if you choose to explore, do not get onto the dam wall itself and move about with great care. A fall here would be debilitating if not deadly. Shortly after the dam wall is a third creek crossing, taking you across the Chestnut Branch tributary. After this crossing the trail gets rougher so pick your way with care. You will see the 100 plus foot Catawba Falls through tree branches and come out in a bit of an opening right at the base of the lovely falls. Looking up you can see that the falls cascade down for quite a distance. Rough trails continue up along the right side of the falls. If you continue to explore, again, pick your way with care. I myself have not been to the top to see if it is worth the view, but it appears that many scramblers have headed upward. Turn around when you wish for the 1.5 mile hike back to the parking lot.
It is wonderful to see the new parking lot and US Forest Service designation for this beautiful hike, forest and falls, as this land was bought in two stages rather recently by the Foot Hills Conservancy, in 2005 and another portion again in 2007. Later it was sold to the US Forest Service. The parking lot will be formally dedicated on July 20th from 11am - 12pm, and the public is invited. We are glad that this beautiful headwaters will remain open to and accessible by the public.
If you are looking for a place to stay nearby, or an Asheville Bed and Breakfast, you might enjoy the pet friendly Oakland Cottage B&B, or for more private and independent lodging options, call or email Vacation In Asheville about an Asheville Cabin or Asheville Vacation Rental. Reservation office hours are 9am - 7pm daily, 7 days a week, 828 994-2627, email info@VacationInAsheville.com and/or visit our website at www.VacationInAsheville.com where you may book directly online.