The approximately 25-foot Hebron Falls doesn’t even come close to joining the ranks of North Carolina’s tallest waterfalls. That doesn’t mean it’s not lovely and dramatic, though: a cascading plunge through enormous boulders. A moderately challenging hike on the Boone Fork Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway leads you to this riverine rock garden and its abundant photo ops.
Hebron Falls lies on the Boone Fork, a tributary of the Watauga River. The boulder field at the falls is commonly known as the Hebron Colony Rocks. That’s a reference to the Hebron Colony, a Christian addiction-recovery center located on nearby Old Turnpike Road. While a footpath accesses the falls from Old Turnpike Road, no vehicles are allowed to park along it. That means the most direct parking access to Hebron Falls lies to the south, in the picnic area for Julian Price Memorial Park. This is at Milepost 296.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, roughly 20 minutes south of Boone, NC.
The popular Julian Price Memorial Park offers a number of rewarding hiking routes. The Boone Fork Trail forms a five-mile loop: one well worth taking if you have the time and energy. If you just want to beeline for the falls and skip the rest of the loop, though, you’re looking at a roughly three-mile out-and-back.
From the parking lot, grab the Boone Fork Trail past the first restrooms you come to upon entering the picnic area. You’ll be hiking north on the well-marked trail, which is orange-blazed and labeled “BFT.” And you’re taking the righthand leg of the loop, following the sign indicating Hebron Falls 1.4 miles to the north.
The trail passes through a wildflower meadow that’s worth tarrying in, given the pretty summer and early-fall blooms and the rich birdwatching. This mosaic of habitats is believed to occupy the fertile bed of a vanished lake.
About a mile in, you’ll see some cascades along the Boone Fork: a hint of what’s to come. Another roughly half-mile onward, you’ll come to a sign pointing the way to Hebron Falls via a side trail. This is a fairly steep descent of about a tenth of a mile. Watch your footing as you drop eastward down to the base of the falls.
Cascades and pools amid the hefty boulders of the Hebron Colony Rocks marks the waterfall. In high summer, you’re liable to see some folks wading and soaking here. As with any river feature, exercise caution clambering on the rocks and entering the water, if you choose to do so. The gushing rockland is beautiful, for sure, and a nice place to linger.
The abundance of fine Southern Appalachian trails within easy reach of Boone is pretty amazing. The Boone Fork Trail to Hebron Falls certainly ranks up there among them!
-If you continue on the Boone Fork Trail to complete the loop rather than turning around at the Hebron Falls side trail, you’ll get to see other cascades and small waterfalls. The Boone Fork Trail also shares tread with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail here, offering additional day hiking opportunities.
-This isn’t a good choice for solitude: Expect fellow hikers and waterfall worshippers!