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Bearpen Gap Waterfall

  3.0 ( 1 ) Favorite


3.2 mile 5.2 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 626' 191 m
Descent: -627' -191 m
High: 5,551' 1,692 m
Low: 4,928' 1,502 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 28% (16°)


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Trail shared by Jake TheDawg

A quiet, secluded hike to a small waterfall.

Jake TheDawg

Features River/Creek · Waterfall


This hike is in the higher elevations of the Parkway and includes part of the Mountains to Sea Trail in the Nantahala National Forest. You aren't likely to see anybody else, so you should have a map and a good sense of direction to find this 15 foot waterfall. Since the waterfall is high on the mountain, water flow can be rather low during a dry spell, so it's best to go after a period of good rain. Mid-spring will offer up a variety of wildflowers including Trout Lily and Trilliums; early fall will be good for mushrooms and cooler temps. The hike is about 3 miles round-trip and is mostly moderate with a gradual elevation change and parts of the trail being overgrown.


Directions: Get on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head towards MP427.6 and the Bearpen Gap Overlook. The trail begins at the north/east end of the parking area. A 4x4 wooden post with a blue blaze marks the start of the trail.

The first part of the trail is a connector trail to the Mountains to Sea Trail, Bearpen Gap Trail #442. Start in the northeastern corner of the parking lot. Follow a well-worn blue blaze connector trail to the MST trail. At 0.42 miles, cross a sequence of very small creeks (weeps). At 0.62 miles, join the MST.

There is a carsonite sign indicating the MST goes right and left. Turn RIGHT. At 0.75 miles, cross a stream. It's the confluence of the smaller streams (weeps) that you crossed at 0.42 miles.

The next carsonite sign is at 1.36 miles (35.317585, -82.968782). Leave the MST and follow an old forest service road that goes perpendicular to the MST. The forest service road goes south/southeast at approximately 163 degrees.

At 1.6 miles, reach the creek and waterfall. The old forest service road continues past this point, but its best to turn around after enjoying the falls.

Flora & Fauna

Mid-spring will offer up a variety of wildflowers including trout lily and trilliums, early fall will be good for mushrooms and cooler temps.

History & Background

Historical Note: Long ago, bear hunters would stack up logs and rig a trip line attached to bait. When a bear pulled at the bait the logs would fall on the bear killing it. These bear pens were built in gaps where the bears would travel.

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