Little Bradley Falls is an exceptionally beautiful 50 foot multi-tiered waterfall near Saluda, North Carolina. This gorgeous waterfall is at the end of an easy and almost two mile roundtrip hike.
Little Bradley Falls is not only a short and fun hike, but also one the most beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes in the area. This 50+ foot waterfall is simply gorgeous, and also has a nice large pool at the base for swimming.
The waterfall is located on Cove Creek, about 1 mile from the parking lot and trailhead near Saluda, NC. There is one water crossing that will generally require you to remove your shoes or wade through with water shoes or bare feet.
The trailhead is located past the parking lot. After parking at the lot, located before the trail on both sides of the road, you’ll walk down towards Cove Creek, and over the bridge on Holbert Cove Rd that crosses Cove Creek. Just past the bridge on the right is the trailhead.
There is another trail that goes directly from the parking lot on the left. This trail does not take you to Little Bradley Falls, but leads to the overlook for Big Bradley Falls.
At the trailhead, there are two trails, one to the right that goes along the creek, and another that goes left and up along the ridge. Go left. We went right, and had to make a pretty steep scramble up hill to get back on the trail that goes to the left.
The trail follows alongside the ridge and above Cove Creek for a while, where you will eventually cross a ravine, that requires going down and back up a short but steep area. About .5 miles in, the trail will take a hard right. It’s a little confusing as there is a Y here. Go right towards a small creek that you’ll have to rock hop over (photo below).
After the small rock hop, you’ll reach the larger creek crossing of Cove Creek shortly after. While you can rock hop it, it’s a bit tricky. The water isn’t too deep (about knee high), and it’s pretty refreshing. The trail then begins a slight climb along the ridge to the left and above the creek. The trail narrows up at this point, and is only wide enough to hike single file.
After a fairly short distance, you’ll reach a boulder field that you’ll need to cross. The boulders are debris from the blasting that was done for the cut-in for Holbert Cove Road, which is above you and to your right. The boulders are easy to cross, just be careful and watch your footing.
On the other side, the narrow trail continues, and begins a slow climb down towards Cove Creek. You’ll know you’re close, when you see the remains of an old home on your left. The two Chimneys and part of the foundation are visible. At this point, you should be able to hear the waterfall in the distance.
This last part of the trail was really muddy when we visited, to the point we had to bypass some areas through the woods. The trail will soon branch out into a few different paths, all leading to the falls, which you’ll see in the distance.
Little Bradley Falls is a wide, 4 tiered waterfall, that cascades into a large pool below it. The pool is surrounded by large rocks, and a small “beach” like area, perfect for small children is to the right. The pool isn’t too deep, and nice for wading, and splashing around. Due to recent rains, there was a lot of silt in the water.
While the rocks and cliffs looks enticing to climb on, we would highly NOT recommend it, as they are slick, and people have been seriously injured here.
We arrived later in the evening, and met many people with teens and children walking back to the parking lot. When we arrived there were only a few people at the falls itself. We found a large rock, sat down, and enjoyed the sights and sounds, along with some water and snacks.
Little Bradley Falls is really a beautiful waterfall. We spent the remainder of our time photographing the Little Bradley Falls and exploring around a little, before heading back to the parking lot and calling it a day.
We really enjoyed both this hike and the waterfall. Getting here was a bit of a drive for us from the Maggie Valley, NC area, at almost two hours, but it was well worth the drive.
We were also surprised at how nice of a swimming hole this is, although I would suspect it’s very active and busy during the summer with people swimming.
If you’re in the area, or don’t mind a bit of a drive, this is a fantastic falls to visit. One of our favorites.
For a longer hike, take the other trailhead from the parking lot to Big Bradley Falls, there are two nice swimming areas on this trail as well. Warning though, the last portion of the trail to the Big Bradley Falls overlook is not safe for children and non-experienced hikers.
While there, visit the downtown area of Saluda, which has some great restaurants and stores. Chimney Rock State Park is also not too far away.