039 – Tom Springs (Daniel Ridge) Falls

Accessibility – Easy

Height: Approx 100′

Distance – 1.0 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 5

Solitude – 5

GPS Info: LAT 35.2887 LONG -82.8271

Last updated – 04/01/2017

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This may be confusing but this waterfall goes by several different names. It is known as Daniel Ridge Falls even though it isn’t on the nearby Daniel Ridge Creek. The waterfall in on the Toms Spring Branch so many refer to it as Toms Spring Falls. It’s also known as Jackson Falls. Not sure where this name originated. When in doubt, I like to refer to them by the body of water they reside on so I’ll reference it as Tom Springs Falls. The waterfall is over 100 feet high as it plunges down the rockface. It is in a very scenic setting but the dense growth makes it capturing the size a challenge. The hike is about a mile round trip and kid friendly. Toms Spring Branch is a low flow creek, so you;ll want to see this one after it rains.

From the intersection of US64/US276/NC280 in Brevard, follow US276 5.3 miles to the split with FR475. Make the left onto FR475 and follow it 3.9  miles until you see a dirt parking lot on the right side. This area is popular with mountain bikers so the lot fills up early. This is also the parking area for numerous campsites so don’t be surprised if you’re parking on the side if FR475. The hike starts beyond the gate at the back end of the parking area. The road ascends up to the bridge over the Davidson River and then continues past the Daniel Ridge Loop Trail. Stay to the right, following the road for less than half a mile. Sections of the uphill segment are severely eroded so use caution. As you near the waterfall you will come the other end of the Daniel Ridge Loop Trail. The first indication of the waterfall is a trail to the left into the woods. This trail will lead you to the base of the falls which is a cool view but makes for an impossible photographic angle. You can get up close and explore the area at the base of the falls. The best photographic opportunity is from the road in front of the falls.

Even rutted and mostly uphill the hike is totally kid friendly and short enough that my then five year old never had a chance to ask me to put her on my shoulders. If you want to capture the entire waterfall you need to take your shot from the road. The clearing at the base provides you a chance to capture certain elements of the falls but not the entirety. The campsites nearby ensure you will have company but the lay of the land and the thick vegetation at ground level would mask anyone at the base of the falls when you’re shooting from the road. The lighting can be a bit tricky since you’re out in the open but even more difficult is capturing the fact this waterfall is 100 feet high. There are no good foreground objects to use as a gauge of size.

Tom Springs Falls from the Road – June 2014
Middle section of Tom Springs Falls – June 2014
Tom Springs Falls – June 2014
A rainy day at Tom Springs Falls – March 2016
The lower section – March 2016
Up close at Tom Springs – March 2016
Tom Springs – March 2016