402 – (Gimmie) Three Steps Falls

Accessibility – Easy+

Height – 30′

Distance – 0.2 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 7

Solitude – 5

GPS Info: LAT 35.34188 LONG -83.94329

Last Updated – 01-08-2019


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On a dark and stormy day in Robbinsville, I was on my way back from Upper and Lower Cold Branch Falls when I noticed something through the leafless trees, falling water. For most of my trek through Robbinsville that day no matter where I looked, water was rushing down hillsides but this time it looked different and demanded a closer look. I was glad I stopped since this wasn’t just another wet-weather waterfall. I have no idea if this one is year-round or not but on my visit, it was amazing, I haven’t yet determined if it has a name, so for now I’ll give it a temporary name. Three Steps Falls.

To get to the trailhead, take NC143/US129 North from the center of town for one mile and make a left onto NC143, when it splits from US129. NC143 will meander along for just over 3.25 miles before coming to a T. Business NC143 goes left, make a right and follow NC143. At 2.1 miles you will pass the turn for the trailhead for the waterfalls on Snowbird Creek. The road is going to ascend until coming to the start of the Skyway. There is a pullout and a kiosk just across the intersection. Make a right and then a left onto FR81. At 0.1 of a mile the road changes to gravel at a gate. After a 1.3 mile decent, it crosses Santeetlah Creek. At 2.65 miles from Santeetlah Road, FR81 crosses a small creek. Park off the road here.

Head up the river left side of the creek for maybe a hundred yards. The bank is steep but close to the creek it is overgrown so you’re better off on the hillside than in the rhodos. You can get to the base of the falls, which I had to clean up some or you can head higher onto the hillside to get a profile view. As I said, I don’t know anything about this waterfall other than it was looking good after the area got a foot of rain. I liked the way it came down the rockface in three steps, hence my temporary name (Gimmie) Three Steps Falls

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A product of a flash flood – Maybe – December 2018
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A profile view – December 2018

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