Courthouse Falls is a 40-foot plunge waterfall a few miles off Highway 215 in North Carolina. It gets its name by being on the backside of Devil’s Courthouse, a popular scenic overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The trailhead is off Forest Service Road 104. If the gate is open, the out-and-back hike is less than 1 mile, roundtrip. If the gate is closed, you can add 6 miles to your hike, roundtrip.
The gate was closed on the day I visited. That means the map point below will take you to the gate instead of the trailhead. The walk is not bad. I made it out and back in under 2 hours with a break to enjoy the falls.
A lot of hikers are purists who deflate at the idea of walking roads. That kind of puritanism always seemed strange to me, especially when you consider that many single-track trails are former road beds that have been reclaimed by nature. I like variety and I love the gentle grade that logging roads provide.
The road to the trailhead is about 3 miles long. It’s in great condition; I wouldn’t hesitate to drive a sedan up it. You’ll mostly walk uphill for the first 2½ miles and then walk downhill for the last ½ mile. Just after you cross the 3rd bridge, you’ll see the trailhead on the left. This pathway goes for maybe ⅓ of a mile before the trail drops down to the bottom of a small gorge.
Watch for the double blazes indicating a switchback on the Courthouse Falls Trail (see the photo above) or else you might continue on Summey Cove. Or better yet, listen for the waterfall. You can’t miss it.
The payoff here is huge—especially if you can drive to the trailhead. This is perfect for swimming on a hot summer day. Bring a picnic and a hammock and spend the afternoon here.
If you’re in the area, you might as well drop by nearby Cathedral Falls. It’s right off Highway 215 just a few miles south.