This area of the Pisgah National Forest, located along the upper reaches of the Ivy River, has long been known by locals as the Coleman Boundary. Officially, it’s called “Big Ivy”, and it’s located in northern Buncombe County below the Blue Ridge Parkway as it runs across the ridges of the Great Craggy Mountains to the east.
Peaks in the area top out at over 6000′ while the valley floor is around 2500′, making for a relief of nearly half a mile. The forest growing here is especially rich, having unique geologic origin for its soils. A wide variety of differing species of plants and animals exist in this area of rugged terrain which was – along with the Black Mountains just to the northeast – considered along with the Great Smoky Mountains for National Park protection back in the 1930’s.
One of the area’s most popular features is Douglas Falls. This spectacular, 70′ free-falling waterfall makes an excellent destination for an easy family hike from the bottom, or a difficult, day-long outing if approached from the Blue Ridge Parkway above. However you reach it, it’s well worth a visit.
Those who approach from below will pass several other interesting features along the 8-mile gravel access road. You’ll see some smaller falls – notably Walker Falls which cascades directly beside the road – and the high cliffs of Snake’s Den Rock, a popular climbing spot. The drive is almost as scenic as the hike.