Accessibility – Moderate
Height: Approx 60′
Distance – 1.0 miles (out and back)
Beauty – 7
Photo rating – 8
Solitude – 6
GPS Info: LAT 35.14273 LONG -83.54792
Last updated – 10/27/2018
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Rufus Morgan Falls is a 60 foot waterfall near downtown Franklin and accessed from Wayah Road very close to the trailhead for Camp Branch Falls and Upper Camp Branch Falls. The total hike is just over a mile if done as an out and back. It can also be done as a loop hike but I didn’t go that route so I can’t comment as to the condition of the trail once you get past the falls.
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 6.4 miles and make a left onto the gravel FR388. Follow this forest road for 2 miles on an uphill course to the parking area for Rufus Morgan Trail on the right.
The trail leaves from the parking area and climbs slightly before making a left to parallel FR388. There are two trees here marked with double blue blazes. There is another trail that goes straight at this point but soon reaches the creek and peters out. Follow the blue blazed trail as it goes through another switchback and heads upstream. The trail is easy to follow and marked. It is just about half a mile from the parking area that the trail passes the base of a sloping waterfall.
When you get to the sloping falls, the trail goes up the river right side (keep the falls on your left). Once at the top the trail veers away from the creek to a switchback where the loop trail continues straight. Make the right and follow the trail as it comes back closer to the creek below Rufus Morgan Falls. Once you get to the base of the falls the trail climbs the bank on river right to provide different vantages. You can also cross the creek below the falls and shoot in a semi-profile.
On our visit it was raining lightly and the lighting was awesome. The top of the falls was capped with nice fall color even though the sky was cloudy and bleak. The falls made for a nice photo subject and it is one I would want to visit again on a warmer day.