Accessibility – Moderate
Height: Approx 45′
Distance – 1.0 (out and back)
Beauty – 8
Photo rating – 7
Solitude – 9
GPS Info: LAT 35.3419 LONG -82.8976
The Waterfall on Wash Hollow is another waterfalls along the stretch of NC 215 as it heads north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Waterfall on Sam Branch and the Waterfall on Wash Hollow are both along the same section of NC 215. In fact, getting to Wash Hollow requires crossing Sam Branch between the two uppermost sections of the waterfall. Depending on the water flow, this can be a daunting task. You can also cross Sam Branch below the falls by making a steep scramble down and then back up. If you go this route, the scramble path up if between the confluence of Sam Branch and Wash Hollow. The scramble up between the creeks is easier than the one coming down from the Sam Branch Trail. I have been to the waterfall on Sam Branch three times. On the first visit the water was so high there was no way to cross. On my July 2015 trip, Sam Branch had dried to a trickle so crossing was easy. In October of 2015, the water level was higher and getting across was difficult, especially when returning from Wash Hollow.
On my first and second visits I ventured to the bottom of the waterfall on Sam Branch. I took different routes down on my two visits. The first time I ventured to the base was from the trail to Sam Branch Falls. The trail was steep and hard to follow. My second trip to the base came after crossing Sam Branch. The descent was easier but it did require crossing the waterfall between the top two drops.
To get to the Waterfall on Wash Hollow, follow NC 215 North 4.0 miles to a sweeping left hand bend in the road. As the sweeping left ends, pull off onto the right shoulder. This is where you will park. Walk back up NC 215 to about the middle of the hairpin turn and look up. You will see the steep scramble up to the trail. On my first visit, getting up the embankment wasn’t too challenging. When I returned in July of 2015, I found that a pair of dead hemlock trees had fallen over the scramble path, adding to the challenge. Getting over or under the trees makes this part of the hike a lot harder but once you’re at the top, it’s a great walk in the woods. The total distance to the waterfall is less than 0.4 of a mile and the trail is beautiful. It is one of the prettiest trails as you follow an old logging grade along a more or less flat path.
A tenth of a mile from where the trial ends at the Falls on Sam Branch there is a steep scramble to the base of the falls. I’m going to leave this one up to you. I did it once. I’m not going down that way again! When you get to Sam Branch you can scoot off the large boulders on the right side of the creek and rock hop across to the other side if the water level is low. If you’ve rock hopped before, you shouldn’t have any problems. If the water level is high, forget it. You will get swept over the edge. I waded it in July when were was only a few inches of trickling water. Once across there is nice open path to Wash Hollow. Along the way there is a campsite on the right at the base of a cliff. From the Sam Branch crossing to the waterfall on Wash Hollow is less than a tenth of a mile. The falls is about 45 feet high as the water comes down the exposed rock face. At the base of the falls is a collection pool that is deep enough to take a dip in.
The hike is kid friendly but the initial scramble with the fallen trees in the way might be a problem. My daughter and I did it in October of 2015 and her size actually made it easier. While I was still struggling to get over the fallen trees, she scooted under and waited at the top. She crossed the creek with me but getting back was a little more difficult.
You can really shoot this one from anywhere. I took a few from the trail and some others from the creek. It is a wonderful setting and just far enough off the beaten path that you likely won’t have any company.