079 – Upper Falls on Barnett Branch

Accessibility – Easy

Height: Approx 60′-70′

Distance – 2.0 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 5

Solitude – 7

GPS Info: LAT 35.???? LONG -82.????

Our final stop on the Barnett Branch Trail waterfall tour is the Upper Falls on Barnett Branch. This is the tallest of the three falls at between 60-70 feet over multiple drops. While the three falls along this hike are vastly different, they have one commonality. They are all exceedingly difficult to photograph.

To get to the Upper Falls on Barnett Branch begin by making the hike to the Waterfall on Barnett Branch. Where the side trail to the waterfall intersects the Barnett Branch Trail, go to the right, up the staircase. The trail will venture away from the creek for a short time before rejoining it near the Middle Falls on Barnett Branch. You can explore the Middle Falls as little or as much as you want before continuing upstream to our final destination. The hike to the Upper Falls from the Middle Falls is around 0.3 of a mile so the total outbound hike is 1.0 so you will have a mile back to your car. Just like the Waterfall on Barnett Branch, when you get to the falls the trail makes a hard right and heads uphill. The vegetation is thick but the sound will tell you you’re in the right place.

You’ve arrived. Now what? You can attempt a shot from the trail, which will not amount to much unless you’re here in the dead of winter. You can see it from the trail but you can not photograph it. I tried and I have several nice shots of the summer greenery to prove. To get a shot you will need to get up close and there isn’t a trail to help you accomplish this.

The hike thus far has been kid friendly. The final leg of the journey is not. My then six-year-old, who is an avid hiker and excellent at scrambles, was not happy that she had to stay behind with my wife when I set off along on this leg of the journey. It was actually my wife that encouraged my off-trail adventure. “You’re here, why not?”

You can approach this however you want. I went a short distance further up the Barnett Branch Trail and located a place to strike out upstream. There is no one place to ascend. I simply picked the place that looked easiest to get up the steep incline. I set my sights on a grouping of trees near a curve in the ridge and made my way toward them. You will have to pick your way up, and along, the ridge. There are several fallen trees on the slope that will help you ascend if you dare. The ascent is probably 50′-60′ feet. If you take your time, you can reach the trees and get a shot from there. It wasn’t easy but I was so happy I did it. When you get to that point and you look at the falls, it looks like a tropical rain forest setting. You will also have the satisfaction of getting to a waterfall few will visit.

Upper Falls on Barnett Branch from ridge line – June 2015
Upper Falls on Barnett Branch from ridge – June 2015
The Upper Falls and surrounding forest – June 2015