Hiking Trail Review
Courthouse Falls Trail
the Pisgah Ranger District
Pisgah National Forest

If you are only going to see one waterfall, Courthouse Falls is it.

Courthouse Falls in Pisgah National Forest.

Courthouse Falls shining in the light of the early evening

Courthouse Falls Trail is accessible from Forest Service Road 140, a gravel road off N.C. Highway 215. 


Take N.C. Highway 215 to the junction with FS 140 (I have always called this road Courthouse Falls Road, but I do not know if this is its official designation).  Turn right onto this road.  Travel 3 miles.  Summey Cove Trail and Courthouse Falls Trail are accessible on the right.  There is a small parking area on the right across the road from the trail access.

Blaze Markings:  orange

Length:  approximately .4 miles; exactly 2063’; note this is slightly longer than  the .3 miles given in The Trails Illustrated Pisgah Ranger District map (1996); also note the other end of the trail is not accessible, so the trail requires twice the stated distance of .8 miles or 4126’ as the there and back distance.

Difficulty:  easy; the trail is relatively flat except for the very last portion that leads to the falls.

Just below the plunge pool

Courthouse Falls is named for Courthouse Creek which is so-named because it originates near the famed Devil’s Courthouse rock accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The Cherokee held that its waters were sacred as the rock was sacred.  I think they were on to something.  Courthouse Falls is my favourite set of falls, so far.  I love the private location and the colours of the rocks, water, vegetation, and interplay between them.  It is a cool place, even in the summer.  It is a great place to swim, wade, and play in the water, in general.  You definitely need to see this.

Courthouse Falls Trail overlaps the Summey Cove Trail for most of its length, breaking off only to access the Falls.  The trail parallels Courthouse Creek its entire length.  This is a popular destination, and many people camp in the general area along the creek and its tributaries.


Courthouse Falls Trail:

I began measuring from the edge of the gravel road.

From 434’ to 660’, a plank and hardware cloth bridge leads you over a spring and a mushy area resulting from the presence of several small springheads in the area.  These, of course, flow into Courthouse Creek.

At 740’, a spring crosses the path.

At 844’, a small creek crosses the trail and flows into Courthouse Creek.

At 1124’, an unofficial access to the top of Courthouse Falls is on the left.

At 1469’, an unofficial and very steep access to the falls rips down the mountainside—not recommended.

At 1629’, the trail plunges down to the left to access the falls.  This trail is steep and features very shallow wooden steps at the end.  These are often wet, so be careful.

At 2063’, the trail ends at Courthouse Falls.  Enjoy the scenery.

The plunge pool

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