You may find listings for Cedar Rock Creek Falls but, if you do, you’ll be missing the fact that this drop along Cedar Rock Creek in Pisgah National Forest is actually a series of three good waterfalls.
The trailhead is located, easily enough, in the parking lot of the Pisgah Fish Hatchery. From the entrance into Pisgah National Forest at the intersection of US 64 and US 276 in Pisgah Forest, NC, take US 276 into the Forest for 5.2 miles and turn left at the Fish Hatchery sign and follow the road 1.4 miles to the hatchery.
The trick is that the trail is a loop, Cat Gap Loop, which has a kiosk and trail marker at the back of the parking lot. While this is the right trail, the loop doesn’t start and end at the same place so the kiosk is the wrong place to start. On the opposite end of the parking lot sits the Education Center. There is a paved drive that runs in front of the lawn. Standing on this drive, look left and you’ll see this drive ends at a gate. This is the other end of the loop.
Go around the gate and cross the bridge. You’ll immediately see a trail marker for Cat Cap Loop and its orange blazes. The trail follows a chain-link fenced research area for a good distance. After crossing a bridge over Cedar Rock Creek, you will follow the creek on the right, above the creek until you reach the falls. Total one-way distance from the parking lot to see all three falls is 1.0 mile.
The lower section is not visible from the trail (possibly it is during the winter). A very obvious trail will appear on your left and will take you down to the stream then over to a large rock overhang. Turning left at the overhang will take you the final few feet to the base of the falls. Further up the trail is another, less-used trail that will take you straight down to the overhang.
Picturesque, 20 feet tall, and comprised of two equal segments, this lower waterfall is actually the prettiest of the three sections but is not the one identified in guides so be sure not to miss this first section.
Return to Cat Gap Trail and continue up stream where the middle section of Cedar Rock Creek Falls will be visible on your left along with a well-used trail and primitive camping area. Also about 20 feet tall, this section is made up of four ledges with most of the water in a short plunge from ledge #1 to ledge #4 after which #4 acts as a broad waterslide into the base pool.
Again, return to the trail and head upstream. It is just a short distance to the upper section, a sluice. This is just about the top of the cascades as the water begins to move down. At this point, the trail intersects with the Butter Gap Trail. Cat Gap Loop turns left and crosses the stream. You can either follow Cat Gap Loop on around for a longer return hike to the parking lot or you can return the way you came.