Accessibility – Difficult
Height – 40′
Distance – 0.7 mile (out and back) including Middle and Lower Wildcat
Beauty – 6
Photo rating – 8
Solitude – 10
GPS Info: LAT 35.31759 LONG -82.90655
Last updated: 09/07/2020
Last Visit: 07-20-2020
NOTE: If you’re doing Little Sam Falls, I would recommend doing it in conjunction with Lower Wildcat Falls and Middle Wildcat Falls. You can do all 3 from the same trailhead in about an hour and a half if you know what you’re doing. This is a creekwalk, bushwhack and requires a steep climb to get to Middle Wildcat.
Little Sam Falls was one of the surprises on The 500 List. I went into it with very low expectations and came away impressed. I rate the hike as difficult since it is a scramble and creekwalk but if you are experienced off trail and in the water, this one is a breeze. The falls is huge and you can only see a tiny fraction from the base. Even so, it is a nice solitary place to visit.
Directions to Trailhead: To get to Little Sam Falls, take NC215 North from the Blue Ridge Parkway 1.9 miles to the pullout on the right. This is 0.1 miles past the pullout for Bubbling Springs Cascades (Guardrail Falls).
The hike: The hike follows NC215 North for the first 0.1 of a mile to where you have to hop the guardrail and start the descent. I don’t have a way to describe the spot where I began down other than to say it was the first place where the woods were open and it didn’t look as if I might get hurt. The GPS where I descended was at 35.31585, -82.90819. Once you begin down the grade, you can angle to the left (downstream) since Little Sam is that way. The contour and openness of the woods feeds you in the right direction as long as you’re paying attention. When you reach the creek, make a left.
As far as walking creeks go, this one isn’t bad and if you need to get out of the creek, the woods on river left are negotiable. Depending on your preference, when you get to the final cascade before the trib Little Sam is on enters the creek, you can either cross or bushwhack around. I prefer the crossing. When you get to the mouth of the tributary, start up the creek. It is open here and there on the bank and when it closes in the creek is easy to walk except for one sloped rock below the falls. From the confluence of the creeks to the base of the falls is 0.15 miles.