434 – Whiteoak Flats Falls

Accessibility – Easy+

Height – 80′-90′ but it is spread out

Distance – 1.8 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 5

Photo rating – 5

Solitude – 8

GPS Info: LAT 36.02001 LONG -82.66057

Last Updated – 09-07-2020

Last visit: 06-13-2020

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Whiteoak Flats Falls is part of a longer run of cascades on Whiteoak Flats Branch. The total height is probably close to 80-90 feet but the main drop is only about 20 feet and requires decent waterflow to looks it’s best. The hike is pretty easy but it os not something I would drive out here to see for no reason. If i were doing something else in the area, like West Prong Hickey Fork, this would be a nice second stop.

Directions to Trailhead: Take I-26 West into Tennessee and use exit 50 for Flag Pond Road. At the base of the ramp, make a left onto Upper Higgins Creek Road and pass back under the freeway. In 0.6 of a mile, make a right onto Old Asheville Highway and follow this for 2.1 miles. At 2.1 miles turn left onto TN352 West which takes you back into NC in 4.2 miles and becomes NC212 South. At 3.25 miles from the state line, make a sharp right to stay on NC212/State Road 1312. When the road forks, go left onto FS111. Follow this gravel road into the woods. When the road forks after 0.3 of a mile, veer to the left. If you are in a low clearance vehicle, or it has rained a lot, this road could be problematic since it is rutted and collects water into several huge bogs. When this road ends you will be in the parking area.

The hike: The hike begins at a stone marker and immediately crosses Big Creek on a footbridge. The lower part of the trail stars out flat but after making a sharp turn to the right, it will start to climb. The total climb is less than 500 feet and is spread out over about a mile so it never becomes overbearing. Just stay on the trail and it will lead you right to the falls. The hike is 0.9 of a mile with a short scramble down to reach the base of the falls. The hike is moderate at most and the scramble not too awful

Whiteoak Flats Falls will not make anyone’s top 10 list but it is nice and you will have it to yourself. You can shoot the falls in any number of ways, either focusing on the main drop of including the lower slide. The canopy is pretty thick but if you go on a sunny day, the glare off the rock face is pretty harsh. I got lucky on my visit since the clouds rolled in just in time. The hike is totally kid friendly but the scramble might intimidate some younger ones.