214 – Whiteoak Creek Falls

Accessibility – Medium

Height: Approx 35′

Distance – 0.2 (out and back)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 7

Solitude – 8

GPS Info: LAT 35.8266 LONG -82.2205

Last updated – 07-17-2017

Whiteoak Creek Falls is a 35 foot high multi-tiered waterfall off of NC80 in the area near Mt Mitchell. For most I don’t know if I’d make a special trip all the way to it but if you’re going to be in the area at Roaring Fork Falls and Setrock Creek Falls, you need to add Whiteoak Creek Falls to the list. If you’re coming off the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s about a 15 minute drive in each direction to get to the trailhead. It will be time well spent.

To reach the trailhead, follow NC80 North from the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 344.1 for 7.4 miles. This is 5.2 miles from the turn to South Toe River Road on the left where you would access Roaring Fork and Setrock Creek. Unlike the part of NC80 that climbs to the parkway from Marion, this side is relatively straight and free of switchbacks after the first mile. The terrain is open and along the way to White Oak Road you will pass the Mt Mitchell Golf Course and one amazing view beyond it. This view of the mountains rivals any from the Blue Ridge. Make a left onto White Oak Road and follow it for just over half a mile to the turn for White Oak Creek Road and make another left. This road leads to the parking area. Park on the left where the road widens out.

To get to the falls continue along the road past the boulders and into the woods. Before you get too far you’re going to see paths descending on the left. I took the second one down to the falls and it left me in the middle section. It turned out that the third path led to the upper section and was much easier to navigate. There is a lot of bare rock at this falls so you can move around freely but it you have to get into the water, keep in mind the rocks are slick. I discovered how slick crossing above the middle drop! The upper drop is definitely the highlight but all three drops together make for a great little falls that probably won’t see huge crowds. We did have one family show up while we were there but they seemed unimpressed and left after five minutes. There is a deep pool below the upper drop where you can go for a swim.

The hike is kid friendly but they will need to be careful on the rocks and on the scramble path if you take one of the first two. The third one shouldn’t present any problems but at the same time this doesn’t mean don’t keep a close eye on them. You can shoot this one from the base, just below the middle drop or at the top. The lighting can be tricky since the upper section is completely shaded while the lower areas are open. There is a lot of deadfall around the lower section as well so consider this when framing a shot. I think the only really appealing view is of the upper drop.

The upper drop on Whiteoak Creek Falls – July 2017
A not so good picture from the base – July 2017

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