Bird Rock Falls is last of the five named falls located on the property of Living Waters Ministry in Balsam Grove, NC. To get there, start at the intersection of US 64 and NC 215 in Rosman, NC and drive north for 7.7 miles where you will find Living Waters Ministry on the left. Park in the back of their parking near the “red chalet.” Before starting your hike, please check in with the staff of Living Waters and thank them for allowing you to visit their waterfalls. After you see these cascades, you’ll probably want to go back and really thank the staff one more time.
At the end of the parking lot, you’ll see a bridge crossing Mill Shoals Creek. Cross the bridge and continue past the front of the “red chalet.” You’ll think you’re going too far, but you will eventually finding a trail on the right which will take you to the back of the “red chalet” and a front view of French Broad Falls with Mill Shoals Falls immediately on your right.
Backtrack just a bit and follow the river downstream past the rock-walled “overlook,” past Rooster Tail Falls and past Lower Rooster Tail Falls to the end of the trail. And what an ending it is! A 100 foot tall rock cliff looms above one side of the river and the water crashes down the waterfall and tries to find some way under the cliff.
Bird Rock Falls is a nice 15 foot tall, 25 foot wide, tiered waterfall, but the waterfall itself isn’t the drama here, it is the setting. Although sometimes called Cathedral Falls because of the majesty of the rock cliff, the books say it is because purple martins used to nest on the cliff. However, a local waterfall guide reveals there is a better tradition – a bird’s head outlined in the rock. If you know where to look, the eye and bill of a bird are easily seen although the bill is rather broad to be a local bird (it looks more like a Puffin).
If you’re at Bird Rock Falls in high water flow, you may get to see a couple of small plunges that leap down the entire cliff face.