Accessibility – Medium+
Height – 30′
Distance – 0.8 mile (out and back) or 9.0 if the gate is closed
Beauty – 6
Photo rating – 5
Solitude – 10
GPS Info: LAT 35.37375 LONG -82.96315
First Visit: 05/24/2019
Most recent visit: 11/22/2020
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Timing is going to be important when it comes to seeing Boomer Inn Falls since FR97 is frequently gated, normally only opening during hunting season from September 1st to January 1st. The road was in bad shape the last time I was there and on that occasion I mountain-biked it since the gate was locked. If the road is open it is about a third of a mile to the falls via the creek and woods. The terrain isn’t difficult but you will need to make sure when the creek forks, you follow the correct branch. The falls is really nice and not very popular so you can enjoy this one in peace.
Directions to Trailhead: To reach the access point, take NC215 North 8.4 miles north of the intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway. You will see FR97 on the left before the road veers to the right and flattens out. Make the left and follow FR97 as long as the gate is open. At a third of a mile there is another gate and a sign for the Haywood Gap Trail. If the gate is closed, it’s a 4.2 mile walk to the creek. If the gate is open, continue up FR97 for 4.2 miles to where Boomer Inn intersects the road and park. There is a ford of a creek not far past the gate. When I was there it had about 3-4 inches of water coursing over it. After the ford the road narrows and ascends through several switchbacks, passing the trailhead for Middle Prong and Little Beartrap Falls.
The hike: If you were lucky enough to have the road open, you are close to the falls but it will take some time. I can’t give you too much on this one since it is a bushwhack and/or creekwalk. My first time in, I began in the creek but before long I was using the open banks whenever possible. On my second visit I found a couple of old roads that fed me into the Boomer Inn drainage, heading up the grade on river left. When I got closer to the falls, I followed closer to the creek.
The going wasn’t awful and this is one of those kind of hikes where I can’t tell you which rock to go over and which one to go around. You have to use your judgment and take the route most appealing to your eye. The creek is your guide and it was never out of my sight on the hike. You will reach the base of the falls after 0.4 a mile. I am pretty good at this kind of hike and it took me twenty-five minutes to reach the falls. I would say if you are not terribly experienced in off trail hiking, this one might take you 45-60 minutes each way from FR97.