431 – Lower Buff Falls

Accessibility – Easy+

Height – 60′

Distance – 0.6 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 6

Photo rating – 6

Solitude – 5

GPS Info: LAT 35.42626 LONG -83.15686 

Last Updated – 02-10-2019


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Lower Buff Creek Falls is a 60-65 foot waterfall on Buff Creek a short distance from Buff Creek Road. Accessing it is a matter of a short trip on the river left side of Buff Creek. The route is mostly a mix of climbing boulders and walking along the bank. I didn’t see any signs indicating this was private property but there are houses on the other side of the creek. Don’t let the ease of accessing this lower falls fool you. If you intend to get to the upper waterfall, you will be in for a difficult climb to get above Lower Buff Falls.

To get to the trailhead, start at the McDonald’s on Skyland Drive in Sylva turn right onto old US19/23 and follow this for 2.7 miles to Buff Creek Road and make a left. Buff Creek Road will follow Buff Creek upstream from this point. At 1.6 miles, the road makes a hard left where an old overgrown road branches off to the right. This is where we parked.

The hike begins on the logging road and follows Buff Creek up on river left. Pretty much from the moment we crested the first hill we could see Lower Buff Falls, it was just a matter of climbing over the rocks in the creek to make our way to the base. The total hike was less than 0.3 of a mile with minimal elevation gain. As I said, this was the easy part of what is a very hard hike.

As you’re standing at Lower Buff Falls you will see that the entire valley is hemmed in by steep hillsides and cliffs. This is where is get’s tricky. If you are continuing to Buff Falls, click HERE to see where you go next.

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