On Forest Road 464 you will find the trail head for Bard Falls. That would be 266A. It’s a pretty easy trail. My directions are from the Wilson Creek area. You can also access this road from the Blue Ridge Parkway around MP 311.3, Pineola Rd. (SR 1518). I don’t remember if it’s marked or not. I don’t think it is, but, Old Jonas Ridge Rd. heads off in the other direction from the parkway. It can be a bit confusing, but don’t make any turns and in a short time you will come to a church on your left, at a bend in the road. Follow around (more like go straight) to the left, as the road turns to gravel, and you will find FR464. I’m not sure but it think it might be like 7 or 8 mile to the trail head.
From Betsy’s Ole Country Store in Mortimer, at the intersection of Brown Mountain Beech Rd. and NC 90, go west on NC 90 (Edgemont Rd) for about 1.8 miles. Turn left on FR 464 (Pineola Rd). Drive approximately 3.5 miles, passing a sign for Hunt Fish Falls, to a pull off on the left (room for about 4 vehicles) where you will see a sign for the trail 266A. I’m pretty sure it has red blazes (swatch). Don’t be confused by the white blazes (circles), as that is for the Mountain to Sea Trail which follows 266A as well.
This is an easy trail which descends gently, though I think it’s longer than the 1 mile that the trail map suggests. I didn’t time the walk in, but, I think it took us about 1.25 hrs to walk out with not much resting.
After following the trail for awhile, you will come to a fairly large open area. You will see an area that looks like camp sites. The trail (266A) ends here. You will now pick up 266. From the camp sites, if you go to the right, it will take you up stream to North Harper Creek Falls. Go left and down stream. You will see the white circle blazes and now also some blue blazes for 266, but I didn’t see many. Just follow the trail downstream. Cross the creek in a short while and continue downstream. You will probably be getting your feet wet at the crossing, but it’s not deep and there are a few rocks to hop on, but I would count on getting wet here.
The trail now follows very close to the creek and you will begin to see some falls/cascades that are difficult to access but quite nice. If you are a photog, you may want to get in the creek at this point, but it didn’t look very safe/inviting to me and no place for a tripod. Keep going down stream for a little longer and you will find Bard Falls. It’s probably not more than 1/4 mile from the crossing. There is a nice open area where you can rest and shoot the falls.
I highly recommend getting a copy of the Wilson Creek Trail guide, which can be obtained at the Wilson Creek Visitor Center as well as at some local stores. I saw it in several stores in Linville Falls area. Well worth the $12.00 I paid. It’s an excellent map which lists all the roads, trails, forest roads, and falls as well as the Brown Mountain OHV Trails. It’s a must have for this area and I like it better than the NatGeo map.