Plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock walls and one of the greatest concentrations of rare and unique species in the eastern United States are found within Gorges State Park. An elevation that rises 2,000 feet in only four miles, combined with rainfall in excess of 80 inches per year, creates a temperate rain forest and supports a collection of waterfalls. On April 29, 1999, thanks to a unique partnership of industry, the environmental community and the state of North Carolina, 10,000 acres of the Jocassee Gorges in Transylvania County were placed in public ownership to be preserved for future generations of North Carolinians. The property was purchased by the state from Duke Energy Corporation, and the transaction created a 2,900-acre gameland managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Currently, Gorges encompasses nearly 7,500 acres and is the only state park west of Asheville. Because Gorges State Park is so new, the park is still in its planning and development phase. Currently, the park staff is working with local citizens, the park's advisory committee and design and engineering contractors to develop permanent facilities. The road and infrastructure project, begun in the Spring of 2007 affects use at the Grassy Ridge Access. Visitors wishing to visit this area are encouraged to call the park office before visiting for current park conditions.
Bearwallow Overlook is another must when you are in Gorges State Park. This trailhead is right on the other side of the parking lot from the Upper Bearwallow Falls Trail. This trail is a bit longer and the elevation change is more gradual than the falls trail. This hike ends with a beautiful view of the mountains with lakes as far as you can see. This is another quick hike that is very child friendly.
The Bearwallow falls trails has changed a bit in recent past. The trail has been shortened to just over 0.4 miles. This is a quick hike with a beautiful view. The trip to the falls has a steady declined slope and since it is a there and back trip, your return hike is all up hill. Since the hike is short though it isn't to tough. If you are in Gorges State Park this is a must. It took my family about 30 minutes to complete with a 4 year old hiking and a 3 year old on my back.
This one is off of Frozen Creek Road. The first two miles aren't that scenic or pleasant; there's a lot of big gravel stones to walk over on the logging road. As you keep going downhill, it gets more interesting and woodsy. The reward is getting down to the lake. It took me an hour and forty to go down, but it took 2 hours and 30 minutes to get back up. I was tired by the time I reached the lake and it was slow going going back up.
The start isn't great but treat it as a warmup. GPS nav might throw you off from the parking area so look for a sign to gorges state park when you're on frozen creek rd. seems no one comes here, we were the only people from 10am to 5pm on the weekend. It's so worth the walk for a peaceful lunch by the lake and river rapids. Connects to other trails too to go around the lake.
This is a review of the Bearwallow Falls overlook trail, which probably is somewhat different from the lower Bearwallow Falls trail, and is currently being updated inside Gorges State Park. The new visitor center opens in August. This overlook trail is about a third of a mile one way and leads to a platform overlooking Bearwallow Falls. The view is not that impressive and the hike takes all of 15 minutes, is a walk down and a climb up; there are nice benches along the way for those out of shape. Overall, this should be connected to the Lower Falls trail and I think that is what Gorges has in mind, as they are still developing it. The other trail to Rainbow and Turtleback Falls is much better and more rewarding, although a four mile RT. As for my recommendation, the view is nice, there is a nice platform with benches at the overlook, but don't waste your time if you are up for more challenging and rewarding hikes.