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Destination Hike: Daniel Ridge Loop & Toms Spring Falls


Last updated 3/16/2020 at 4:53pm

Sean Trapp

This 150-foot waterfall goes by three different names, Toms Spring Falls, Daniel Ridge Falls and Jackson Falls and is best viewed after a good rain.

Spring officially begins this Thursday, and for many people that means it's time to dust off the Hiking shoes and enjoy this recent pleasant weather from the trail. One excellent springtime hike is Daniel Ridge Loop in Pisgah National Forest.

The hike is best completed after a good rain, when the waterfall at the base of the trailhead known as Toms Spring Falls/Daniel Ridge Falls, and the Davidson River have more flow.

Toms Spring Falls is a beautiful 150-foot waterfall, and will appear dry in between periods without much rain. Luckily, this time of year is usually very wet in Transylvania County, so it is a good time to venture out. There are also a few long-range views of the surrounding ridges visible from the loop before the trees gain their leaves back in the summer. Part of this loop follows a section of the Davidson River with several small and medium waterfalls, while other sections of the trail take you through small meadows and cave-like rhododendron tunnels. Daniel Ridge is a popular mountain Biking trail, so be sure to stay alert, especially if Hiking with children or pets. Mountain bikers should yield the right of way to hikers on the trail.

I like to complete this loop by Hiking it clockwise and finishing by visiting the falls as an end reward. However, Toms Spring Falls is only about a half mile from the parking area and is easily accessible by the flat gravel road. Visitors can go straight to the falls before the hike, or forgo the hike all together if they don't feel up to it.

According to my GPS, the hike was around 5.3 miles from the parking area and back and took around 2 hours complete with a few breaks and meandering off trail to check out other waterfalls. The trail is strenuous and steep at times, but nothing the average Pisgah hiker should have much trouble with.

Hike Details

From the parking area, walk up the gravel road, across the bridge and continue straight until you get to a fork in the road. To follow the route I took, go left at this fork. To access the falls right away or hike counter clockwise, go right. Follow the red blazes.

By going clockwise, you will hike up the left leg of the loop first, following the Davidson River. Taking this route will lead to a more gradual climb than by going counter clockwise.

You will encounter several primitive campsites on this part of the loop, and this section of the Davidson River has several small and medium-sized waterfalls. About 1.3 miles into the hike, going this direction, you will begin to notice a few campsites and another path to your left down by the river.

Just beyond these campsites, there is a 15-20 foot waterfall with a small pool along the second footpath, which some use as swimming hole in the summer. On the main trail there are a few spots where people have made paths to access these campsites and the adjacent waterfall.

If you have time to veer off trail for a few minutes, I would highly recommend Hiking down to these falls and exploring the secondary footpath along the riverside campsites.After this waterfall, climb back up to the main trail and continue your hike. You will soon come to the remnants of an old bridge. Follow the sign that says "To Daniel Ride Loop."

About 2.5 miles into your hike you will come to a log staircase and the intersection of Farlow Gap Trail. Follow the red blazes, and go right, up the stairs.

After this intersection, the trail will start getting steeper and you will no longer be following the river. You will now be Hiking on the second half of the loop, meandering through different forest ecosystems and crossing a few small creeks. Be sure to wear proper shoes, as you'll likely be getting your feet wet or muddy on this trail. About 0.7 miles after you've passed the trail's intersection with Farlow Gap, you will intersect with another trail, coming in on your left. This is Cove Creek Road, another popular mountain Biking route. From here, the trail is mostly downhill, and can get steep in sections.

You will intersect another trail a little over a half mile after the Cove Creek Road intersection, Lanning Ridge Road.

Continue on Daniel Ridge Loop Trail for the next mile. You will traverse through a few grassy openings between forested sections until you reach the end and end up back on the gravel road, which will take you back to your car. Once you reach the gravel, go left to get to Toms Spring Falls or go right to get back to the parking area.

Directions to the Parking Area from Brevard

From Downtown Brevard the trailhead is about 13 miles with an estimated drive time of 24 minutes.

Alex Perri

Just off the main Daniel Ridge Loop Trail are a few smaller waterfalls worth exploring along the Davidson River.

•Take South Broad Street/ U.S. 64 northeast towards Pisgah Forest for 3.4 miles

•Turn left onto U.S. 276 into Pisgah National Forest and continue driving for 5.3 miles

•Take a slight left at the fork in the road onto Forest Road 475, going towards the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education

•Continue on this road for 3.8 miles going past the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and past Cove Creek Group Campground. The road will turn into a gravel road after you pass Cove Creek. Keep heading down the gravel to reach Daniel Ridge Loop.

•Daniel Ridge Loop Trail parking area will be on your right.


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