Setrock Creek Falls at the Foot of Mount Mitchell (How to Reach this Gorgeous Waterfall!)

Last Updated on September 8, 2021

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If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.

Setrock Creek Falls is one of North Carolina‘s most beautiful waterfalls, sitting at the base of Mount Mitchell. It’s also one of the easiest to reach in the area, so you can bring younger kids along for this one!

Mount Mitchell State Park and the awesome mountain town of Burnsville in Yancey County awaits nearby, but your surroundings can go easily forgotten while visiting Setrock Creek.

The Setrock Creek Falls hike might be short and kid-friendly, but we included it among the best Black Mountains hikes. That’s because we think all ages and skill levels of hikers can enjoy this wonderful place.

In case you’re unfamiliar with this waterfall and the area around it, we’ve organized this guide to get you to the trailhead, to Setrock Creek Falls, and beyond. Here’s what you’ll find below:

  • About the Falls and Trail
  • Driving Directions
  • The Setrock Creek Falls Trail
  • Roaring Fork Falls (a Bonus Waterfall Hike Nearby)
  • More Nearby Waterfalls, Hikes, and Places to Go

We’ve also included Setrock Creek Falls in our guides to waterfalls near Asheville and waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk. Our map of waterfalls in Western NC also features it, in case you’d like to visually plan your trip!

About the Falls and Trail

Setrock Creek Falls

As mentioned earlier, Setrock Creek Falls sits at the base of Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Rockies and the Mississippi River. The 75-foot waterfall is a multi-layer cascade that ranges from a slow trickle to heavy flow, depending on the amount of recent rainfall.

The photo above is from a visit during a fairly wet period during the summer. In fact, we got drenched on the way back from the waterfall.

The trail that leads to Setrock Creek Falls is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail and the Mount Mitchell State Trail. A great organization, NC High Peaks, works hard to preserve this trail and many others in the area.

We once interviewed Jake Blood from the nonprofit organization for an episode of NC Travel Chat!

Driving Directions

Cell service is not great while driving toward the Setrock Creek Falls trailhead, so be sure to know the route before heading out.

You may notice a relatively full parking lot upon arrival, but the hike and falls may surprisingly not be as crowded. Those cars could belong to hikers who are attempting the epic Mount Mitchell Trail, which also leaves from the Black Mountain Campground.

We mentioned the Mount Mitchell Trail below in our “Other Nearby Waterfalls, Hikes, and Places” section.

The Black Mountain Campground

Speaking of the Black Mountain Campground, this is a fabulous base for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. Its location right along the South Toe River makes the beginnings of a Setrock Creek Falls hike even better.

In case you want to camp here, there are nice facilities at the BMC. You can find more info about camping here at the website.

The Setrock Creek Falls Trail

Waterfalls near Mt Mitchell Setrock Creek Falls

Walk into the campground, cross the bridge and you’ll see two blazes at the beginning of the Setrock Creek Falls hike. Not far from the falls, at about 0.4 miles into your hike, the blue blazed trail to Mount Mitchell turns to the right.

Stay with the yellow blazes, where you’ll cross a footbridge. You’ll then cross a gravel road and keep moving for a few hundred yards. You’ll then reach the falls, where there are plenty of spots to stop, sit down, and enjoy the water rushing down.

If there hasn’t been much rain lately, the falls might be more trickling than gushing, so keep those expectations in mind as you approach. If you brought a snack or a sandwich, this is a great place for a short picnic.

Ready to Visit Setrock Creek Falls?

Thanks to more popular neighbors like Crabtree Falls and Mount Mitchell State Park (see below), we think Setrock Creek Falls is relatively unknown unless you’re familiar with this area. We really enjoy this waterfall and think it deserves more spotlight.

Have you ever visited Setrock Creek Falls? We’d love to know about your experiences here and with this part of Western NC. Let us know in the comments and if you have photos from previous visits, you are more than welcome to join our Facebook Group and share them with us!

Roaring Fork Falls (a Bonus Waterfall Hike Nearby)

Roaring Fork Falls near Setrock Creek Falls NC

If you’re in the mood for waterfall hopping, the 100-foot Roaring Fork Falls is just a few miles down the road from Setrock Creek Falls.

At the Black Mountain Campground, drive across the bridge and turn left toward Busick Work Center. You will see a wooden sign pointing to the left for Roaring Fork Falls.

The road ends at the trailhead, and the entrance to the trail is behind a gate on your right.

This is another half-mile trail, though it’s a bit steadier uphill. Still, you can easily hike to both Roaring Fork and Setrock Creek Falls in the same day! Along the trail, you’ll find two old concrete structures that are fun to explore and peek into.

The falls themselves offer an additional perfect picnic spot and place to jump in the water and cool down on warmer days.

Other Nearby Waterfalls, Hikes, and Places

The Mount Mitchell Trail

Mount Mitchell Peak inside Mount Mitchell State Park NC

The Mount Mitchell Trail is not for the faint of heart–but those gorgeous mile-high views are unparalleled if you’re up for the challenge! Mount Mitchell is the highest peak on the Appalachian Mountains, and the trail to get to the peak is a strenuous 6-mile (one way) climb.

Hikers usually take about 4.5 hours to make it up about 3,600 feet and another 3.5 hours to come back down, making this a full-day excursion.

Even in the summer, you should have the right gear since it will be chilly as you near the top. For those hesitant about this trail, you can park a car at the top of the state park and drive back down to the trailhead to make it easier!

Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls NC near Setrock Creek Falls

Along with Mount Mitchell, the hike that leads to the majestic 70-foot Crabtree Falls is one of the most popular in the area. The trailhead has ample parking and is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Post 339.5.

It’s about 1.6 miles to the falls and 0.9 back if you take the loop, making it about 2.5 miles total. You’ll be tempted to play in the magic cascades and scale the rocks.

We recommend using extreme caution here and bringing suitable footwear, as you won’t have good cell service here if any at all.

Mount Mitchell State Park

Deep Gap Trail Mount Mitchell State Park

If you’d rather drive, you can easily drive up to Mount Mitchell’s peak at 6,684 feet inside the State Park. Mount Mitchell State Park encompasses 4,789-acres of a beautiful spruce-fir forest at high elevations.

In this park, you’ll find a museum rich with history and nature, restaurants, and gift shops to browse if you visit between May to October. You can also camp here in warmer months in one of the nine tent spots at the campground.


Burnsville NC Downtown

While you’re in the area, you won’t want to miss the great small-town vibes that await in Burnsville. It’s home to a vibrant local art scene to fill at least an afternoon, weekend, or more.

You’ll also find the largest public telescope in the Southeast, great restaurants and shops, including Ye Olde Country Store, Snap Dragon, and Mountain Chef Bistro, just to list a few!

We think Burnsville is the perfect stop after enjoying the sights and sounds at Setrock Creek Falls.

More Things to Do in Yancey County

More Waterfalls in North Carolina

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