When you visit Pipestem Resort Sate Park and are in search of waterfalls in the park, chances are you will be sorely disappointed. The only waterfall in Pipestem Resort State Park is the Indian Branch Falls along the County Line Trail. The photo on the 2012 Pipestem Trail Map has quite an impressive photo of Indian Branch Falls but unfortunately it is impossible to get that view of the falls with out doing some rock climbing or rappelling. Instead of going to Indian Branch Falls you can go to Brush Creek Falls.
Brush Creek Falls is located outside of Pipestem Resort State Park. It is about a 20 – 25 minute drive from the park entrance depending on how fast you drive. Brush Creek Falls is the largest waterfall (by some measure) in southern West Virginia. Brush Creek Falls is about 25 feet high and at least 50 feet wide. The width will depend on recent rains, snow melt or whatever else may affect the amount of water available to flow down the Blue Stone River. In order to get there you can put the intersection of Eads Mills Road and Brush Creek Road into your GPS. If you are coming from Pipestem Resort State Park this intersection will be about a half mile past the parking area for Brush Creek Falls.
The parking area at the trailhead for Brush Creek Falls is sloped, gravel and has room for up to about 10 cars if they are tightly packed in there. Directly in front of you as you pull into the trailhead parking area you will see a picnic pavilion with a sign on the front of it that tells you that you are in the correct spot to hike to Brush Creek Falls. The trail for Brush Creek Falls is to the right of the picnic pavilion. Once you are in the parking area you can’t miss the parking pavilion or the trail to the right of it. There are no markings on the trail but it is plenty wide and obvious where the trail is and which way to go.
Depending on recent weather the trail may be nice and try or it may be a bit like walking in a creek bed. If it has rained recently, wear old shoes when hiking to Brush Creek Falls. The trail will be wet, muddy and you’ll have to rock hop or just get your feet wet in some spots. The trail follows right along the banks of the Blue Stone River. You’ll see the water of the river to your left the entire way down to Brush Creek Falls. The hike to the falls is a bit less than a mile. When you get to the falls, you’ll be able to walk out onto the top of the falls (depending on the water level) and/or hike down to the base of the falls.
The base of the falls is where you will get the best photos. The first path you will see down to the base of the falls is steep, slick (when wet) and seems to be eroding quickly. It is rather difficult to walk down this path to the base of the falls. If you walk down the main trail another 50 yards or so you will come to a much more gentle, smooth dirt path that goes down to the base of Brush Creek Falls. To be safe and make it easy on yourself this is the best path to take down to the base of the falls.
Once you get down to the base of the falls you will have some pretty good photo opportunities. If it has rained recently the water may be murky and dirty looking. Since this waterfall is so easily accessed it seems to be a party spot for locals and you will see beer cans and other garbage littered around the base of the falls. You may also run into people partying, drunk or getting high down at the falls, on top of the falls or along the trail. There were no problems with anyone engaging in such activities when hiking to or photographing the falls but you may want to avoid the falls and the trail at night unless you are there to get wasted with others!
Supposedly there is another waterfall farther down the Brush Creek Falls Trail. On the day this hike was done it was getting late. The area of the Brush Creek Falls Trail past Brush Creek Falls was only explored for about a half mile. It had rained earlier in the day and the only other waterfall encountered was a waterfall coming down onto the trail from the embankment to the right of the trail. It was not a major waterfall by any stretch of the imagination but was about 20 feet high, cascaded down onto the trail and proceeded to “fall” another 20 feet or so down into the river below.
The hike back to the parking area and trailhead follows the same path as the hike to the falls. Overall, the hike to Brush Creek Falls to see the falls is an excellent hike. You should pencil it into your schedule when you get to Pipestem State Park Resort if you like waterfalls. It does seem to be a party place where people go to party, get high, get drunk and have domestic disputes. If you go, go with plenty of time to get back to your car and off the trails so that you are not out there after dark.