557 – Waddle Branch Falls

Accessibility – Hard+

Height – 70-80′

Distance – 1.2 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 5

Photo rating – 4

Solitude – 7

GPS Info: LAT 35.04219 LONG -82.02631

Last Updated – 01-21-2023

Last Visited – 06-19-2019

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Waddle Branch Falls and Lower Waddle Branch Falls are on a tributary of the Whitewater River. Waddle Branch enters the river on river left. The hike distance isn’t much, but it isn’t easy. It’s extremely thick and overgrown if you’re climbiung from the lower falls to the upper. It also gets extremely steep. I like both of these but I hace not been back since my first visit in 2019. It took me about an hour and forty-five minutes to cover the 1.2 miles.

The trailhead for Waddle Branch is at the NC281 over the Whitewater River. The GPS for this location is 35.03824, -83.02225,

The hike. There is an obvious route that leaves from the Northbound side of the bridge heading upstream. It is a small gravel area that hints at a road once hacing been here. If there was, it’s no longer recognizable. The trail will descend toward the river, and turn upstream. Tere is some downfall to contend with along the way, but this part of the trail is pretty easy to hike. At 0.3 of a mile you wil cross Waddle Branch. Once across the trail you have followed continuyes to follw the Whitewater River upstream. A steeper trail climbs up the bank. Climb up and you will end up on an old roadbed that heads into the Waddle Branch drainage. The one-way hike ois 0.6 miles. When you get to the old road, you are 0.4 into the hike and the upper waterfall is 0.2 of a mile away.

I stayed on river right until I heard the lower falls. Getting to the base wasn’t very challenging. You can see a pic of Lower Waddle Branch Falls here. From the lower falls, I climbed around it on river left and folowed the creek upstream a short distance before angling up the steep hillside on river left. The going was slow and the rhodo were thick. Geting up the steep hillside is timeconsuming. I ended up swinigng wide of the falls until I was close, then I made my way back toward the creek. It is definitely important to pick the correct line. Coming out it is easier to see where you want to go, but heading in, it’s easy to end up coming to the creek too far up the falls, forcing a difficult decent to the bottom. There was some trail an error on my visit, and my hike out was much easier. It is a lot of work to get to this one, but I think it’s worth it, especially when you add in the lower falls. I do have another route I plan to explore for this hike, but I haven’t had a chance to get back that way.