Accessibility – Moderate
Height: Approx 18′
Distance – 1.90 (out and back)
Beauty – 6
Photo rating – 3
Solitude – 9
GPS Info: LAT 35.0705 LONG -82.9870
Last updated – 02-19-2017
The trailhead for Reid Branch Falls is on NC281 3.6 miles south of the intersection with US64. If you’re coming from Lake Toxaway, start looking for Brewer Rd on the left 3.5 miles after turning onto NC281. Coming from SC or Whitewater Falls, the parking area is 0.1 of a mile past pullout for White Owl Falls. This is the same trailhead for Big Falls, Rich Falls, Simon Falls, Standing Stone Falls and High Falls. You could do all six waterfalls in one day but it is going to be a long and exhausting adventure.
The trailhead is right at the intersection where the logging grade meets Brewer Rd and NC281. The hike begins by heading up hill past the gate as the trail turns slightly left. This is only a brief ascent and as it levels off you can hear White Owl Falls to the right as well as cars racing past on 281. The trail soon moderates before beginning into a long downhill slope. The grade is modest but continually descending. This will become readily apparent on the hike back! The logging grade is easy to follow with no major hurdles to clear. At 0.87 of a mile from the trailhead, a trail heads to the left. This leads to Reid Branch Falls. It starts out moderately but it does get steeper as you get closer to the creek. It never quite gets to the point of being one of ‘those scrambles’. When you get to the base, the challenge begins.
One of the thousands of victims of the hemlock woolly adelgid came crashing down from river right, flattened a dozen rhodos that refused to die and fell across the creek. In order to get into position for a decent shot, you have to climb over the tangle of rhodos and onto the fallen hemlock. Then you have to walk along the fallen giant, as the bark peels off until you get to the boulder in the middle of the creek. You can take your picture from there. I took a few from various places on the fallen tree as well. The hike is kid-friendly but the log-walking business might be a bit much. Of course the only reason you’re out there is to take a picture. The kids can see the falls just fine without the added element of danger.