Accessibility – Medium
Height – 20′
Distance – 0.9 (out and back)
Beauty – 8
Photo rating – 8
Solitude – 9
GPS Info: LAT 35.29612 LONG -82.94039
Last updated: 07/24/2016
The Falls on Billy Branch is a multi-tiered waterfall on Billy Branch just upstream from the confluence of Billy Branch and the South Fork Mills River. The hike to Billy Branch isn’t hard as it follows a logging grade for most of the hike along the Sough Fork Mills River before turning upstream on a defined path. There is a nice collection pool at the base of the falls and plenty of greenery to balance the view. The waterfall is just far enough off the beaten path to ensure a peaceful visit on most weekdays and probably on the weekends as well. The hike can be combined with a stop at High Falls which is further down the South Fork Mills River. Our attempt at seeing both on our visit was ended when a thunderstorm struck less than a quarter mile from High Falls. After waiting half an hour for the rains to pass we returned to the truck with only a visit to Billy Branch.
To get to Billy Branch start from the convergence of 64/280/276 in Brevard and head North on US276 for 11.7 miles to FR 1206, Yellow Gap Rd. The turn is on the right. If you’re coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway the left hand turn onto FR1206 is 3.3 miles from the stop sign at the base of the ramp. FR1206 is a single lane gravel road that sees a lot of traffic in the summer months so watch your speed and don’t be surprised if you have to make use of the turn outs to allow approaching vehicles to pass. Stay on FR1206 for 3.25 miles to the intersection with FR476. Make a right and follow FR476 for approximately 1.25 miles until it ends. There is ample parking at the end of the road so there is no need to block the gate.
The hike continues on FR476 past the gate. The terrain is flat as the road follows the South Fork Mills River downstream. There are some great cascades along this stretch so plan on making plenty of stops. At 0.65 of a mile, the trail will reach an intersection. To the right the road crosses the South Fork Mills River on a bridge. Make a left and enter the woods heading uphill. Maybe 125 feet after making the left the trail will fork again. The trail to the right heads down and crosses Billy Branch. This path leads to High Falls. Stay to the left, heading uphill. The trail will follow Billy Branch upstream. Around 0.1 of a mile you will come to a scramble path on the right that leads to the base of the falls. The path is average for a waterfall scramble with enough handholds to make it safely to the base if you take your time.
I didn’t know what to expect with the Falls on Billy Branch but I must say, I liked it. The setting was nice and the hike was enjoyable. I probably would have enjoyed it more if not for the rain and thunder. The hike to Billy Branch is kid friendly but use your judgment when it comes to the scramble. My daughter is a waterfall veteran who knows how to pick her way down an embankment. Make sure you know your kids limitations as well as your own. There is a lot of room to take pictures and enough different vantages to get some great shots. The flowering rhodos definitely add to this one.