4-16-05 I first visited Big Laurel and Mooney Falls in December '02. They are very close to each other in a beautiful part of the Nantahala National Forest near Standing Indian Campground. I've been meaning to get back for different photos and finally did so in mid April 2005. We stopped at Rufus Morgan Falls 1st again and if you are coming from Frankin, I highly suggest you do the same. These 3 waterfalls would make a good half or full day, depending on how much time you decide to hang around and enjoy the scenery.
From the turn off to Rufus Morgan Falls, continue west on Hwy 64 for 6.3 miles and turn left on west Old Murphy Rd. Look for a brown and white sign for Standing Indian Campground. This turn is about 12 miles from the intersection of 64 west and 441/23 just outside of Franklin. Drive just under 2 miles and turn right at the sign for Standing Indian Campground (FR67). Drive 6.7 miles down FR67 - bearing left at the entrance to the campground - to a pull out on the right at the trail head for Big Laurel Falls. The road turns from pavement to gravel and the last couple of miles are rather rocky. You can do it in a passenger car, just drive slower. The hike is an easy 1/2 mile along Big Laurel Branch, mostly through rhododrendron. A short distance from the trail head, turn right at the 'T' intersection and cross the bridge. Turn right again after crossing and follow the trail up the creeks to the waterfall. The waterfall is only 20' or so, but it's in a secluded setting and there's a nice little swimming hole at the base. If you're lucky, you'll have the place to yourself.
About 1/4 mile farther up FR67 on the right is the trail head for Mooney Falls. The trail is short, switchbacking down the bank to the base of the lower drop. At the 2nd switchback, the trail to the left leads to the upper cascades. Climb up on the big rock for this nice view.
At the previously mentioned fork, bear to the right to continue to the base of the 15' main drop. There is a lot of fallen timber from the hurricanes of 2004 which kind of ruins the scene.
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