335 – Camp Branch Falls

Accessibility – Moderate

Height: Approx 11′

Distance – 0.5 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 6

Photo rating – 6

Solitude – 5

GPS Info: LAT 35.16786 LONG -83.54169

Last updated – 10/09/2018

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Camp Branch Falls and Upper Camp Branch Falls are less than 200 feet apart and both are worth the short hike to reach them. The total hike is less than 0.25 of a mile one wat with an easy creek crossing close to the falls. The trail follows at old logging grade to the crossing, passing two old cement buildings along the way. The concrete structures with the metal doors still attached are explosives bunkers. Both make great photo subjects and add to the short hike.

To reach the trailhead from Franklin, follow US64 West 3.8 miles from the intersection of US64 and NC441/US23 and make a right onto Old Murphy Road (not to be confused with West Old Murphy Road 8.1 miles away which leads to Mooney Falls and Big laurel Falls.  Follow Old Murphy Road for 0.2 if a mile and make a left onto Wayah Road. Follow the winding Wayah Road for 5.2 miles and make a right onto the gravel FR316. Follow this road up the hill to the parking area in less than 0.2 miles. The parking area is before the road makes a right and comes to a gate, which was closed on our visit. The area is being logged so make sure not to block the road or the pile of logs being loaded onto trucks.

The trail heads up the hill past the boulder not across the bridge. With the creek on your right, the trail will ascend gradually before reaching the larger of the two explosives bunkers. Pass the structure and before long you will pass another one on the left. Once you pass this one the trail will bend toward a small creek which has a pile of rocks you can walk across. Once across the trail rises and comes to a split. By the time we would see the falls through the tree. The right fork heads down to the falls. It comes out on river right. You can take a pic from the open area next to the falls, the rocks below the falls or even downstream of the cascades below the falls. The setting is very nice and the drown sculpted rock next to the main drop adds to the effect.

The pool is very nice and even with a log lying against it, the falls is really nice. While not the biggest waterfall in the world. the setting, the ease of access and other elements make this a worthwhile stop. The fact there is another waterfall just upstream makes it even better. To get to Upper Camp Branch Falls, return to the trail and follow it up past the top of Camp Branch Falls. It will mirror the creek on river right for a hundred feet or so before a steeper trail veers to the right. You can see the falls below and the trail isn’t too awful. From the base of the falls you can freely move across the creek to get a shot of the whole falls or you can move up closer on river right and take a picture of the stair-like formation it the rock that the water rushes down.

I spent about ten minutes clearing the stairs or downfall and debris and it was time well-spent. It made for an amazing photo subject. It was a chilly October day on our visit but this one is on the list for a summer visit.

Downstream with the cascade – October 2018
The rockface and the falls – October 2018
Partial profile from river right – October 2018

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