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Blue Ridge Parkway, Hiking Trails, Waterfalls

Hiking Trails & Swimming Holes- HEBRON ROCK COLONY FALLS


Hiking along the Boonefork Trail, about a mile in, you start to hear the roar of waterfalls, Hebron Rock Colony Falls. Irresistible on beautiful days, the falls are a perfect way to cool off. But how to reach them?

Formerly, the falls were unofficially accessed from Old Turnpike Road. This is no longer permissible. End of discussion- don’t do it. Residents on Old Turnpike could not access their own homes, and emergency vehicles could not get through. The North Carolina Highway Patrol has increased their vigilance in patrolling this road, watching for wayward waterfall junkies. See below for more details.

But not to worry- there’s another way to access the beautiful falls! You must go in on the Boonefork Trail, accessed at the picnic area of Julian Price Memorial Park. The trail loop begins and ends at the park. Take the right-hand loop, through the old lake bed, and plunge on into the woods. The first half mile of the trail was re-gravelled in the past 6 months, which makes for a nice beginning of your hike, plus part of it is part of the railbed from when logging trains ran through this area. There are remnants visible of an old dam across the river near the one-mile point. After that, the trail begins to meander uphill a little bit, through the woods, following the contours of the Boonefork River.

Continue through the woods. The trail at this point is not strenuous at all- rather, it’s got moderate inclines and curves. Go along until just shy of the 1.5 mile marker (and the mile markers are clear- hard plastic posts about 3′ high with white lettering.) Just before you get to the 1.5mi marker, you’ll see a pair of trees with red flag markers tied around them, indicating the spur trail down to the river. Currently there is not a formal marker, but plans are being tossed around to change that, so until then, these red markers will suffice.

Hebron Falls Spur Trail markers

The spur trail leads down the hill. Because this is not a formally marked footpath, it looks more like a deer trail. Most of the trail has clear footholds, but there is one part near a rhododendron bush that can be a bit slick. Make sure you have on good boots! The spur is only a couple tenths of a mile long, and the falls get louder with every step. The trail bottoms out at the riverside, and you can easily wade in and start boulder hopping your way up or down.

Hebron Rock Colony Falls

The trail puts you out in the middle of the boulder field, and you can make a day of it sunning yourself out on the rocks. Remember that the rocks can be slick and you are out here at your own risk. When I went, I wore my Chaco sandals and had very little difficulty out there (of course, I also had a hiking buddy bigger and stronger than me to help me climb the rocks!.) But this is by no means a loafers-and-flipflops place! Wear flimsy, no-grip footwear like that and you’re asking for serious injury. Some people go barefoot out there, but I prefer to have something between me and the ground. There is no reliable cell signal there, so unless you have a SATphone, you can’t call for help. I have been told by a couple inside sources that the emergency room at App Regional Healthcare System has a few injuries per week inseason from these falls alone. Stay safe out there!

Three of the cascades you'll see on the way to the top

Three of the cascades you’ll see on the way to the top

The best falls are at the top of the boulder field.

Main falls of Hebron Rock Colony Falls

Main falls of Hebron Rock Colony Falls

Sure, Hebron doesn’t have the biggest and most spectacular waterfalls in the area. That being said, how many waterfalls do you get to actually climb? Four legged family members will also enjoy visiting and splashing around in the water, and Boonefork Trail is a great pet friendly trail. Bring the dog along for an adventure the whole family will enjoy!

IMPORTANT:
Going back to what was said earlier about the correct access trail: You may see other information online or in print stating that access was via Old Turnpike Road. This is no longer true. You *will* be cited if the NC Highway Patrol see you in person, or your car will be towed and you will be forced to hitchike. In case you think this is an idle threat: the author personally spoke with a Sergeant in the SHP, and he informed me that in one week, 13 cars were towed and about 15 people were cited. A citation is over $200 and a towing bill is a minimum of $125. If you don’t want a fun hiking day ruined, you won’t access from Old Turnpike Road. Access from the Boonefork Trail is a bit more hiking, but worth it in the end.

Suitable For:
All ages can do the trail down to the river and enjoy the calm waters at the base. If accompanied and carefully supervised by adults, children above the age of 5 could climb the boulders to the falls.

WHERE IS IT?
Julian Price Memorial Park, on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Part of the trail winds through the Price Park campsite. MP 296.5

Remember to be careful out there on the falls. Blue Ridge NC Guide is not responsible in any way for any injuries sustained while enjoying the falls, nor are we responsible if you foolishly park on Old Turnpike and get towed/cited.

All text and photos copyright 2012 Cassandra Hartley, Blue Ridge NC Guide. No portion of this article is to be copied, saved, or otherwise distributed without express written consent. Sharing is encouraged using the designated social media sharing buttons at the bottom of this article. Photos for this post provided by our sister site Photos by Cassandra Lea. Author received no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this article.

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About Cassandra Lea

Hey everyone, I'm Cassandra, a licensed Real Estate Broker currently working in vacation rental management, but my dream job for one day down the road involves cameras and being outside, not contracts behind a desk. I am blessed to have discovered my passion at a relatively young age and been given the opportunities to pursue it, and I believe that passion and love of photography exhibits itself in my work. Enjoy and thank you for stopping by!

Discussion

19 thoughts on “Hiking Trails & Swimming Holes- HEBRON ROCK COLONY FALLS

  1. Thanks for your excellent post!

    Posted by nike free run 2 | August 14, 2012, 7:54 am
  2. Thanks for the update. I’ve been reading about the parking problems in the paper, and this is an excellent way to get the word out!

    Posted by Michelle C. | April 9, 2013, 3:14 pm
  3. seriously……..dont access by old turnpike road….dont do it. They scammed me out of $125 and my friend got towed

    Posted by Taylor Nave | April 22, 2013, 9:51 pm
    • Hi Taylor, I’m sorry to hear that you & your friend had a towing bill, but it’s a high cost for a reason- to help offenders learn a lesson. “No Parking” signs are all over the road for a reason, and if emergency vehicles couldn’t get through to someone in need of help, it could be quite disastrous. That’s why the NCHP has had to take drastic measures- they’re not just being a killjoy and they’re certainly not “scamming” anyone.

      Posted by Cassandra Hartley | April 22, 2013, 9:56 pm
  4. wish i would have seen this sooner i went last sunday and got a 258 dollar ticket trhis is no joke

    Posted by robert | April 22, 2013, 10:14 pm
    • Hi Robert, I’m sorry to hear that. I didn’t even know about the new route until the first part of April. (The post date on this article says May, but I re-wrote it on the 9th to reflect the new info.) If you choose to go back to Hebron, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Boonefork route. It really is a nice hike.

      Posted by Cassandra Hartley | April 22, 2013, 10:26 pm
  5. hi! this was so helpful. just hike this from boonefork last saturday with my daughters…. they do now have signs up to indicate where the trail down to the falls are. the steep trail down from boone fork was a mudslick but it is now clearly marked!

    Posted by taylor | June 10, 2013, 4:45 pm
  6. Thanks for the add’l info on access. But, I was there that day last year that folks with little kids at the river had their cars towed without notice. It was damn near predatory towing. There were *no blocked roads* and only one no-parking sign that was well removed from the mail parking area along this very low traffic count gravel road. I realize signs were purportedly removed, but that is punishing the innocent to protect the guilty. I thought it a ridiculous use of state law enforcement personnel and excessive use of authority — since when does the HP even otherwise patrol that road? It was terrible tourism and recreation public relations; that’s what parking tickets are for by the way. Even with this other alternative, walking 1.5 miles with little kids to see a spectacular display of nature (and then back) is a hardship and impossible for many (my youngest was 4 last summer). The calmest area is at the bottom (thus family friendly). It is probably the only gravel road (and a quite wide one at that) where I have seen no-parking signs. The elite property owners in this area have secured their piece of paradise for only their enjoyment. Can you please cite the crash rate on the road, and the number of times that emergency vehicles have not been able to pass? To be positive and proactive I have contacted the local tourism office and local officials and am encouraging them to pursue a solution.

    Posted by Steve from Raleigh | June 12, 2013, 4:41 pm
  7. Does the boonefork trail lead into the same location (AKA the bottom of the rock colony… or does it lead into the top)?

    Posted by Jessica | September 8, 2013, 1:05 pm
    • Hi Jessica,
      I’m not sure I understand your question? The Boonefork Trail is a 5-mile loop with the trailhead accessed from the picnic area of Price Park. The spur trail to Hebron Rock Colony Falls is about 1.5mi in and branches off to the right. Does this help?

      Posted by Cassandra Hartley | December 26, 2013, 9:15 pm
  8. Excellent post! I have only accessed these from Julian Price Park and was looking to try the other way….now, I will skip that idea. Great, unique waterfalls though, love all the beaver cut trees on the Boone Fork Trail!!

    Posted by waterfallshiker | December 29, 2013, 8:43 pm
    • Thanks! Feel free to share this post as there’s still too many people who are accessing from Old Turnpike Road. I’ve been working with the NCHP trying to get the word out.
      I enjoy your site- just found it today! Lots of great info and pictures. Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by Cassandra Hartley | December 29, 2013, 8:47 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Hiking Trails- BOONEFORK TRAIL, Blowing Rock | Blue Ridge NC Guide - April 9, 2013

  2. Pingback: Hebron Rock Colony Falls No Longer Accessible Via Old Turnpike Road « Watauga County Road Conditions Watauga County Road Conditions - April 22, 2013

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All text and photos belong exclusively to Cassandra L. Hartley and Blue Ridge NC Guide, copyright January 2011 to present. No portions of the text and no photos may be copied without express written consent. Sharing is encouraged using the Share Buttons at the bottom of each article.
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