Difficulty: Easy to the Rim, Very difficult to the base of the falls.
Time needed: 30-45 minutes to rim and back, 3 hours to bottom and back
Equipment needed: Good sturdy footwear with a good lug sole, synthetic – non-cotton layers (swimwear), water and snacks (water filters are nice!), Pisgah Map Co. Green River Gamelands Map
Saluda, North Carolina is a sleepy little town tucked away between the bustle of Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC. This town awakens from its slumber around June when the kiddos get out of school and families start to take their family vacations, mainly migrating to cooler places for the summer months.
Saluda is located in the WNC thermal belt where temperatures remain consistent and considerably cooler than the surrounding metropolis’s (metropoli?) and is home to some of WNC’s best kept secrets, for now.
We are proud of our home and our new home base located here in Saluda (Outfitters) and want to share some of the coolest things to see and do while you are here or just passing through.
On deck, Big Bradley Falls.
Big Bradley was described to me by some of the local search and rescue as a “pit of death” where no one should venture in to. There have been several fatalities here from folks falling, but all of this from what I can discern can be avoided with some common sense. Don’t drink alcohol and hike through here. Don’t bring pets. Finally, this trail is best left for adults. With the warning out of the way, let me tell you some of the highlights.
You can access the rim overlook by following the blue trail blazes. You’ll know what I mean by “the rim,” it literally comes to the end of the trail and drops off the face of the earth into a very deep canyon. This canyon is home to Cove Creek which is a larger tributary to the Green River. The rim provides stunning views of the gorge below and is not recommended for folks with vertigo. There is a great description on access if you follow this link here.
If you follow the trail back up you will come to another obvious trail that begins to go down… flip flops need not apply. On that note, what other gear should you bring? One, your common sense. Don’t let your sense of adventure supersede your common sense. If it looks too hard, it probably is. Bring good sturdy footwear with a good tread on your sole, like the Salomon X-Mission trail shoe. Layers based on the time of year are important, but for summer months, swimwear is acceptable. Realize if the weather is forecasting rain the trails get exponentially harder, and a good rain jacket is a necessity too. First aid knowledge and a kit are always a good idea, and a dip and sip water filter bottle or Lifestraw are great ways to make sure you have enough water. The water from Cove Creek is very clean but should still be filtered. All of these things can be purchased at the new and convenient outfitter in town, Saluda Outfitters.
Remember to practice Leave No Trace ethics while being out and about and leave this beautiful gorge as you found it. Stick to the main trails to prevent trail widening and un-needed erosion. The flora and fauna in this region is unmatched in my opinion as you are taking step in to a temperate rain forest. That means you can expect daily afternoon thundershowers as the convection off the Piedmont and the cool air from the front of the ridge meet.
With a bit of common sense, some personal preparedness, and a good map of the Green River Gamelands from Pisgah Map Co. you will be well on your way to a nice half-day adventure.