Lower Waterfall on Bubbling Spring Branch
Lower Waterfall on Bubbling Spring Branch  10-5-07

7-12-09  If you are looking for just a little bit of adventure, these 3 waterfalls might be just what you need. The first 2 are a short hike and the 3rd is right next to the road. Doesn't sound like much of an adventure, but if you are new to hiking, have always stayed on a trail, and are ready to step it up a bit and see things the average person doesn't see, please read on. The first 2 waterfalls - Lower and Upper Waterfalls on Bubbling Spring Branch - are accessed from the same parking area. Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades is about a mile and a half farther north down Highway 215. Probably shouldn't bring small children here, but bigger kids with adults that know what they are doing are OK if they are the outdoorsy type. The hike is fairly level for the most part. You may have to get your feet wet - definitely if water levels are high - so be prepared. On my most recent trip water levels were down and I was able to keep my feet dry. This area is also reliable for early fall color. Go the first and/or second week end in October and you will be sure to see some color.

Directions:  From the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Hwy 215, head north on Hwy 215 for 0.4 miles and park on the left in the obvious parking area. The edge of the pavement generally stays rutted, so pull off slowly or you could bend a rim. This is the same parking as people use for the Mountains to Sea Trail.

Walk down the road (north) for a very short distance and look for the stake with the white blaze on the left indicating the Mountains to Sea Trail. You will also see the MST across Hwy 215 going the other way. Take the left trail, walk past the Middle Prong Wilderness sign and cross the larger creek. Once across, go left. You will not be following the MST! Once you go left, go a short distance to the camp site. Go through the camp site, but stay to the left, cross the creek again and pick up the trail on the left side of the creek that heads up the creek. The trail is obvious once you find it. It's only 10 minutes or so up to the lower waterfall pictured above, but you'll cross the creek 3 or 4 more times before realizing the easiest way is just to walk up the rocks and maybe in the creek to the base of the falls. The wet rocks will be slippery so try to stay on dry rock when possible. A hiking stick will come in handy as a 3rd leg and for balance. Go right after some good rain and the flow will be similar to above. On this last trip, there was only a trickle coming down the left side of the waterfall.

Upper Waterfall on Bubbling Spring Branch
Upper Waterfall on Bubbling Spring Branch  10-5-07

The upper waterfall is a short distance above the lower waterfall. If you are near where I took that shot of the lower waterfall, look to the left in the shrub for a trail that goes up. It's not right next to the waterfall, but goes a little left, then up and back to the creek above the lower falls. You'll have to rock hop the short distance up to this view. Do not go to the top of the lower waterfall! Some of the rock up here is very slippery when wet. If you get closer, you can see a little more waterfall hidden by the trees in this shot. This one is about 30' high, the lower waterfall is 15-20' high. This is an out and back hike, so just retrace your path back to your vehicle.

Bubbling Spring Branch Cascade
Bubbling Spring Branch Cascade  10-10-08

Bubbling Spring Branch Cascade is just down the road. From the Parkway, drive north on Hwy 215 for 1.8 miles and pull off on the right where the guard rail curves in. You will pass 3 other curved in places, but you will know you are at the right one when you see the scene above. Also you can see that littering pigs stop here - including the smoking pigs who think it's OK to toss their cigarette butts on the ground. The cascade is slowly being obscured by the foliage. The little adventure here is going down for a closer look at the waterfall and climbing up the bedrock to the right of the falls. Go under the obvious heavily eroded place under the guard rail and take the short but steep goat trail down to creek level. Go through the camp site and to the base of the falls. Once there, look for the little path to the right that takes you around the water and out on the bedrock. If - and only if - this rock is dry, you can scoot up the dry parts for a look at what you can't see from the road. The bedrock here has a lot of orange in it. This is also a good area for blooming Catawba and Rosebay Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel. Here's a bit of what's up there - and wear something to swim in if it's a warm day!

Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades
Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades  6-16-07

Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades
Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades  7-12-09

Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades
Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades  10-10-08

Did I mention that this is an excellent area for early fall color??

 

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