Sometimes this is called Big Bradley Falls because 1) it is big and 2) there is a smaller waterfall upstream named Little Bradley Falls. The stream for both is named Cove Creek and empties into the Green River. If you look at the map, Cove Creek is sort of one ridge over from the Green River Gorge so some rugged terrain can be expected. And, as a comment, Cove Creek is as pretty a mountain stream as you will find.
The trailhead is easy to find. Take I-26 from Spartanburg toward Asheville. After crossing into North Carolina, you’ll want take the 2nd NC exit, #59, which is the Saluda exit. Turn right onto Holbert Cove Road and continue for 3.1 miles to a large pulloff on the left just before Cove Creek goes under the road in a culvert. You’ll see orange posts from an old barricade. Between the 2 posts, you’ll find the trailhead.
You will immediately enter an open field (at one time, an orchard) and continue straight across to the tree line. At 0.2 miles, you’ll make a short rocky climb to a T intersection with a large, wide trail. Turn right and you will quickly descend down to Cove Creek where the trail crosses the stream at one of the prettiest camp sites around. Flat, next to the stream with a small tributary waterfall directly across from the camp site. There is even a little “amphitheater” made out of logs for sitting streamside.
You can stay dry crossing the creek as long as you are good a rock hopping or log scooting. About 0.3 miles later, a trail will come in from the left where the main trail takes a sharp right. Stay on the main trail. You should be able to hear the stream and the waterfall below you. Bear in mind that the trail takes you to an overlook, not to the waterfall itself. This explains why the trail swings around a small hollow (for about 0.2 miles) giving you the feel you’re going away from the creek (you are). Once the trail makes the back of the hollow, it starts back out toward the creek and you’ll quickly find an obvious trail coming in on the left. It is situated between 2 trees with lots of initials carved in them with one tree even having an arrow showing the way down the side trail.
Scramble down this side trail and you’ll see your destination, a small, flat rock outcrop that hangs out over the gorge. With nothing but 200’ of air between the outcrop and the creek, the location, although it proves an excellent view of the waterfall, is a bit unnerving. It is dangerous here, as you will be able to tell. The gorge is deep and vertical. There have been fatalities here.
Standing at 65’, Big Bradley Falls splits Cove Creek into 2 sections, the smaller on the left and the larger on the right (in larger flows, you will get more coverage across the rock face). Although the right side is masked by a large tree, it appears to be dead so you can see the cascade behind it. Overall, this is another 3-section waterfall, about equal in size. The top 2 sections are plunges and the bottom is tiered.
This is a great hike, pretty easy, with lots of natural beauty along the way only to be topped by the gorge where the waterfall is located.