Caney Fork Valley Waterfalls, Jackson County (9-18-16) - dwhike
Rough Butt Creek Falls

Just south of the college town of Cullowhee, North Carolina (home to Western Carolina University) is the beautiful Caney Fork Valley.  Draining into this valley are a number of pretty little streams, all quite remote, many sporting beautiful little cascades as they tumble down from the ridges above.  On this day I'd picked a collection of five waterfalls to visit.  There are actually at least seven in the Caney Fork watershed but these five are the most accessible due to ease of access and the relatively short walk needed to reach them.

In order of how I visited them, my destinations for the day were...Rough Butt Creek Falls, the Upper and Lower Falls on Sugar Creek, Dryland Laurel Branch Falls, and finally Moses Creek Falls.  None of the falls have officially maintained trails to them but they all see just enough traffic that the routes to them are generally open and easy to follow (with the possible exception of the route between the Sugar Creek cascades).  Round-trip, the longest hike is the 3-miles to Moses Creek and I only had to log 8-miles to see this entire collection.  Not a bad waterfalls-to-miles-hiked ration if I do say so myself!  A warning though, if you're looking to see massive cascades these are not going to impress you.  The beauty in the waterfalls surrounding Caney Fork is in their solitude not their size.  Each is a uniquely delicate beauty tucked away into seldom-visited coves of thick forest surrounding rocky-moss lined streams.  I was told I'd likely have these waterfalls all to myself and I certainly did!

The best resource to have if you decide to visit for yourself is Kevin Adams' North Carolina Waterfalls...which is pretty much the definitive guide for visiting any waterfall in the state.  I'll try to include some basic info about each hike but the book is necessary for best locating them and complete descriptions of the routes to each.  That said, I now invite you to join me on an afternoon full of falling water.  It was a fantastic day of waterfall hunting and I couldn't have been happier with what I found, even if rain did eventually chase me off.  So...come along with me to the secluded coves of the Caney Fork Valley and see what I discovered.  As always...ENJOY!!!


Rough Butt Creek Falls

Mileage Hiked:  2.8 miles                   Hike Duration:  1:30

Trailhead Temp:  70'F                        Trail Traffic:  None!

Min. Elevation:  2,720'                         Max. Elevation:  3,200'

Total Vertical Gain:  480'                   Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  343'


Sugar Creek (Upper, Lower) & Dryland Laurel Branch Falls

Mileage Hiked:  2.2 miles                   Hike Duration:  1:30

Trailhead Temp:  70'F                        Trail Traffic:  None!

Min. Elevation:  2,840'                         Max. Elevation:  3,220'

Total Vertical Gain:  400'                   Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  364'


Moses Creek Falls

Mileage Hiked:  3.0 miles                   Hike Duration:  1:20

Trailhead Temp:  70'F                        Trail Traffic:  None!

Min. Elevation:  2,720'                         Max. Elevation:  3,200'

Total Vertical Gain:  600'                   Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  400'