639 – Ledbetter Canyon Falls

Accessibility – Hard+ (creekwalk)

Height – 80+’ (numerous drops)

Distance – 1.3 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 7

Solitude – 8

GPS Info: LAT 35.28785 LONG -83.67749

Last Updated – 01-21-2023

Last Visited – 09-18-2022

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Ledbetter Canyon Falls is an 80+ foot high waterfall in Nantahala Gorge. The hike is 1.3 miles out and back but it is a mix of trail hiking, creekwalking and bouldering. It is one of the more challenging creekwalks you’re going to find, and at around the mid-point of the creekwalk, you come to Inside Passage Falls, which is where Ledbetter Creek comes rushing down a 25-foot drop inside a cave. The way past Inside Passagew is by climbing up the waterfall. This isn’t an issue in low water. I can say with near certainty that there is NO way to bushwhack around this one on river left. Right right doesn’t look any more promising.

The trailhead parking is off of US19/US74. The parking lot is at 35.28247, -83.67407.

The hike: Climb the trail out of the parking lot and cross the railroad tracks. The trail picks up on the otehr side and heads toward Ledbetter Creek. The oath will comes to the Bartram Trail at a four-way intersection. Contunue across the Bartram Trail and follow the less used path as far as you can before you have to get into the creek. From here it is going to be a mix of creekwalking, scrambling and bouldering. Inside Passage will present one of the tougher challenges on the way upstream. It is at 35.28572, -83.67673. There is an upper section you need to scale and not too much further up there is a cut in the rock packed with downfall that you need to climb. I haven’t found a way past this other than climbing it. The canyon walls are nearly vertical in this area. I can’t really give you much more detail. Once you get to the creek it’s all about what looks easiest.