Family Friendly Hike and ride to Falls on Log Hollow Branch

The Falls on Log Hollow is an extremely family friendly hike (or short walk) on a wide forest road with no roots or large rocks.  Although I do not hike with children (my family lives out in Colorado) my sense is this makes a perfect adventure.  

As in any adventure, to me getting there is half the fun, so allow me to point out some interesting points of interest along the way.

We begin (assuming you are coming from Asheville) by getting on I-26 headed East (or south as it appears to me) and driving about 15 miles to Exit 40 or Airport Road.  Turn right at the top of the ramp onto SR 280 headed west to Brevard.  You will drive through some undulating country with views of cattle, Mills River and farms.  After about 15 miles, you come to the intersection of SR 280, US 276 and US 64.  Take the right turn onto US 276 headed north towards the Blue Ridge Parkway and Waynesville.  You will pass Dollys Ice Cream Place on the right (remember this spot for after the hike) and follow the Davidson River on your left for about 10 miles, passing the Ranger Station and Visitors Center on your right.  Incidently, the Visitors Center has restrooms and a great little exhibit of the wildlife seen in the forest, along with a gift shop.  I suggest that you might want to purchase the National Geographic Illustrated map of Pisgah National Forest, Ranger District, map #780, and/or the one book I consider to be the Bible of Waterfalls, Kevin Adams ” North Carolina Waterfalls”.  This is the one book I always carry with me.

Along US 276 headed north, you will pass Looking Glass Falls on your right, and I strongly suggest you stop and see it.  Its a great waterfall and probably, in my humble opinion, the most visited in the forest.  Be cautious, when the wind is blowing, the mist coats the steps headed down to the base of the pool so the steps can be very slippery.

Continuing along US 276, we now follow Looking Glass Creek, passing Moores Cove Falls on your right and a little bit further on your left is Sliding Rock Falls, one of the few places in the National Forest where a fee is required to enter (the other is the Cradle of Forestry). From the intersection of US 276 to FR 475B is about 10 miles, so watch for an unpaved road on your left with a small marker “FR475B”.  The road immediately becomes unpaved so slow down and enjoy the ride.  

FR 475B is a typical Forest Road with sharp curves and potholes.  Take your time driving and be aware that you will meet oncoming traffic.  Unless you are driving a lowslung car, you should be fine.  Look for wildflowers along the sides of the road and also wildlife.

Drive in about 5 miles where FR475 makes a sharp left curve with a sign on the right side about the Pisgah Forest restoration.  There is a pullover that will take about 4 cars.  You will see a gated FR 5043, so slip around it and begin your hike.

This is an old logging road, but pretty well smooth and easy.  Its wide, and usually pretty uncrowded.  In 5 hikes to the waterfalls, I have seen only 2 other hikers total.  The road goes through some cleared areas that are just starting to grow back, so the possibility of seeing deer are fair.  Elevation gain is not much, about 50 feet, so enjoy a nice comfortable hike.  

You will walk over the first of two wooden bridges, the first one being the Waterfall on the Northern Tributary of Log Hollow Branch with a great view of the cascades on your right.  Continue around the curve and an uphill walk.  The Falls on Log Hollow Branch are about 1/4 mile or less from these cascades.  

You will hear the falls as you begin your downhill descent on the forest service road, with a great view through the trees to urge you on.  If you are hiking with small children, I would suggest stopping on the second wooden bridge to view the falls, as with every other falls, the rocks are extremely slippery and can be dangerous.  After a few bruised hips and ego, trust me, I speak the truth!

For a great shot, try shooting from the bridge towards the falls, between the two trees that cover up the falls.  There is a small, tight footpath along the creek to the left that will lead to the base, but again, I do not suggest using it with children.  I sometimes will simply sit on the big wooden beams and listen to the waterfalls and the wind in the trees.  Its a great place to reconnect.

Returning back, when you get back to your car, I strongly suggest staying on FR 475B and heading down.  Again, its a tight, curving typical dirt road, but full of surprises waiting to be seen.  You will see wildlife, wildflowers and great views along the way.  One that cannot be missed is Looking Glass Rock from up close and personal as you drive along the road.  You will be able to pull over at spots to marvel at this Dome.  Its probably the most viewed spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and just think, you are much closer to it.

You will also pass Slick Rock Falls on your left, with a small parking area and a very easy walk (about 100 yards) to the base of the falls.  Again, be cautious as the rocks at the bottom of the falls are slippery, or slick!

Continue until you reach the paved SR 476 and turn left.  You will pass Pisgah Wildlife Center and the fish hatchery.  If you want to show your children a cool adventure, go into the Center, and walk to the fish hatchery where you can see the trout being raised for later release into the creeks and rivers of Pisgah National Forest.

SR 476 intersects with US 276 for your return home.  You can turn left, and retrace your route past Looking Glass Falls and drive about 10 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway (turning right on the Parkway to reach Asheville, or right and return back the same way we came in.

To reward your family for a great hike, I strongly suggest stopping at Dollys for an ice cream cone and to view the bear carvings.  (No, I am not sponsoring them, most hikers and hike guides will stop there on our way back home and swap notes).  

Hope you enjoyed this hike. please leave some comments, I am always open for suggestions.

Happy Hiker!ImageImageL

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