For years, the generally considered best access and viewpoint of the approximately 60 foot high Melrose Falls was from a narrow bridge along US 176 during the winter months. Fortunately, thanks to the work of Conserving Carolina, there is now a parking area and hiking trail to the waterfall.
|The best vantage point of the falls is from a rock cropping about halfway down. Unfortunately, you really can't get around the tree.|
Melrose Falls is located between Saluda and Tryon. Keep your eyes open, as the parking area can be easy to miss. Coming Eastbound on US 176 from Saluda, you will cross over the first bridge crossing the Pacolet River. Just before the second bridge to cross the river, there is a parking area on the right. There is a blue gate and two boulders. If the narrow parking area is full - it can only park two cars - there is a pull-off on the shoulder of US 176 West across the highway.
|A good look at the old Norfolk Southern railroad bridge that runs above Melrose Falls.|
The hike is about 3/4ths of a mile out (reviews of the hike have the trail at various lengths). About 0.2 of a mile in, there will be a fork near a group of large boulders. You will want to take the left fork. Along the trail, you will cross three streams. At another fork - take the right option. The trail directly leads to Big Falls Creek and Melrose Falls.
When you get to the falls, look down and to your left as the best vantage point is on a rock outcropping down a rather steep descent. I would recommend being a sturdy hiker and not letting young children down the grade. In February 2022, a five-year-old boy fell 40 feet while hiking at Melrose Falls. Fortunately, he had no life-threatening injuries and is ok.
|It's been a while since I've done waterfall photography - hopefully I will get more practice with my new camera over time.|
There are also a few offshoot trails that will lead to the bottom of the falls or to the abandoned Norfolk Southern Railway line. At the falls, a railroad bridge once carried trains 40 feet over the falls along the famous Saluda Grade.
Overall, the about a mile-and-a-half out-and-back hike was enjoyable and a nice cardio workout. Melrose Falls is a hidden gem and worth visiting.
Sources & Links:
- Melrose Falls ---NCWaterfalls.com
- Melrose Falls ---Easywaterfallhikes.com
- Melrose Falls ---Polk County Parks, Recreation, & Maintenance
- Melrose Falls ---HikingWNC.com
- Conserving Carolina
How To Get There: