Accessibility – Moderate+ (steep/rocky trail)
Height – 40′
Distance – 2.1 (out and back)
Beauty – 6
Photo rating – 4
Solitude – 4
GPS Info: LAT 35.13269 LONG -82.5706
Last Visited – 09-15-2021
Last Updated – 01-19-2023
Rocky Branch Falls is a 40 foot high waterfall on Rocky Branch and is accessed via a short scramble off the Hospital Rock Trail. At this time the Hospital Rock Trail is open as far as Hospital Rock which is 1.6 miles from the trailhead. Trail closures are hard to predict so I would suggest a visit to the Jones Gap website. It covers the park hours, entrance fees, trail closures and the reservation process. They boast 2 scenic waterfalls, which is laughable, but that’s another story.
The park entrance is on Jones Gap Road and the parking is here: 35.12559, -82.57011.
The hike: From the parking lot to the trailhead is 0.25 of a mile. A trail leaves from the upper end of the parking area, crosses the river on a large bridge and heads toward the fish hatchery. The Hospital Rock Trail starts behind the hatchery and it is signed. The trail is fairly consistent as far as the grade. It is one mile to the crossing of Rocky Branch, and in that mile you gain 600 feet of elevation. Once you get to the creek crossing, cross to river left and look for an obnoxiously steep and rocky scramble path heding up toward the falls. It’s not very far, but it felt almost vertical. You get a pretty decent view of the falls. There are two more above it, Hospital Rock Falls and Powerline Falls but I have not been to them yet, however they are on the 2023 todo list. If you want to check out Hospital Rock, it’s half a mile further up the trail. The trail is closed beyond this point.
Not favorable photo conditions. Between the sun and Axel trying to claim a place on the rock, this was the best I could do.