Hickory Branch Falls
Hickory Branch Falls

6-9-22  Hickory Branch Falls is a beautiful 30' high waterfall in the Curtis Creek area of the Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort. My first visit to this falls was 2006 and for some reason I hadn't been back until now - June 2022. The waterfall is in a very pristine setting and isn't that hard to get to, so there's really no excuse for not visiting more than I have. The hike to the falls is about 0.6 miles and easy to moderate in difficulty depending on your skill level. While searching for any additional info online since my previous visit, I also found out that there's an upper waterfall just a short distance up the trail!

Directions: Take I-40 to Old Fort which is east of Asheville. If you are coming from east of Old Fort, take exit 73 and turn towards downtown Old Fort. After about 1/2 mile, this road ends at US70 in Old Fort - turn right at the stop light. If you are coming from west of Old Fort on I-40, you can take the US70/Old Fort exit 72. Pass the left turn for Andrew's Geyser and continue on US70 to the stop light in downtown Old Fort. Drive another 1 3/4 miles on US70 and turn left on Curtis Creek Rd. You should see a brown and white Pisgah Forest sign indicating Curtis Creek Campground. Curtis Creek Rd starts out paved, then turns to gravel in less than 3 miles and enters the National Forest as FR482. Drive a total of 5 miles from US70 into Curtis Creek Campground and park on the left in either of the 2 gravel parking pads across from sites 19-24. The Hickory Branch Trail begins on the opposite side between sites 19 and 20 and is blazed with orange diamonds.

The trail begins by switchbacking a short distance up a steep hill, then down the other side to an easy crossing of Hickory Branch. The trail flattens out after the crossing and continues another 1/4 mile to another crossing of Hickory Branch. You should be able to cross on the rocks without getting your feet wet unless the water level is high. The trail gets a little steeper as it ascends to the waterfall. In another 0.3 miles, you'll arrive at a view of the waterfall from the trail. You'll notice a very steep scramble trail down to the base from here, but there's a better way down. Head back the way you came for no more than 0.1 miles and look for a side trail on the left heading down towards the creek. Take this trail down and back up creek to the base of the falls.

Hickory Branch Falls

To get to the upper waterfall, head back up to the main trail and continue another 1/4 mile. A short spur trail heads out to the base of the falls. Unfortunately, this waterfall has a lot of downfall on it. It's in 3 sections and appears to be taller than Hickory Branch Falls. The rock is covered in moss and all of the debris is probably great salamander habitat. From here, the Hickory Branch Trail climbs steeply and from what I've read, there isn't much to see past the upper falls.

Upper Hickory Branch Falls
Upper Hickory Branch Falls

NOTE: Curtis Creek Campground is open from April 11 - December 31. FR482 is a seasonal road and is gated in the off season. The gate is about 1/2 mile before the campground. You can park along the road, but don't block the gate.

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