Gorges State Park - Maple Spring Branch & Auger Fork Falls (5-1-16)
Maple Spring Branch and Auger Fork Falls are two waterfalls I've had my sights on for quite some time but for whatever reason had never gotten around to visiting up until this hike. Located in the less visited eastern portion of Gorges State Park, these two cascades aren't remarkable in either height or power but rather for their proximity. Standing alongside tiny Auger Fork Creek one can look up at one cascade (Auger Fork) dropping from the trees to the left while the other waterfall (Maple Spring Branch) cascades from the forest only a dozen or so feet to your right. You are quite literally surrounded by falling water when you are standing beneath these two magnificent cascades.
The route to these falls is mostly straightforward and relatively easy to walk...that is until the last quarter-mile of the trek. Starting from the all-but-unknown Frozen Creek Access, on the eastern border of Gorges State Park, the route for the first 2.5 miles follows the Auger Fork Trail which isn't so much a trail as an old roadway. This means its a wide and easy to follow path and rarely follows a grade that even approaches what one might consider steep. At the 2.5-mile point, however, things get interesting. First off there is no maintained trail to these falls. The Auger Hole Trail follows the ridge high above but to reach them requires a brutally steep descent via a 'path' ( I say that in the loosest sense of the term) that may or may not be discernible when you get there. Needless to say a GOOD map is pretty much a requirement or, even better, a decent GPS program. I personally use the GAIA GPS app on my phone and it has proved invaluable on many hikes, including this one.
Therefore, I present you with a foray into one of the few remaining corners of Gorges State Park that I had yet to visit. Though not the most spectacular of hikes, the destination was more than worth it, as I think you'll see. So, come on along with me to the spectacular Auger Fork and Maple Spring Branch Falls and, as always, ENJOY!!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.108482, -82.883659
Route Type: Out-and-back Difficulty: MODERATE
Mileage Hiked: 5.5 miles Hike Duration: 2:30
Trailhead Temp: 65'F Trail Traffic: None!
Min. Elevation: 1,500' Max. Elevation: 2,310'
Total Vertical Gain: 1,100' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 200'
Trails Used (blaze color/shape): Auger Hole Trail (orange squares)