Rufus Morgan Falls - Nantahala National Forest
6-5-19 - Rufus Morgan Falls is a really nice 60-70' waterfall not to far west of Franklin, NC. The 1 mile (round trip) hike is family friendly and moderate in difficulty. The waterfall is at the half way point of a 1 mile loop, so the hike can either be done as a loop or an out and back. I hadn't been to this waterfall since 2005, so Cindy and I made a return trip in June 2019 so I could get updated trail info, new photos, and video. You could combine this hike with Big Laurel Falls and Mooney Falls in the Standing Indian area and have a really nice half to full day of waterfalling. All 3 waterfalls are included in the video below.
Directions: From the intersection of US64 and US441/23 in Franklin, drive west on 64 for 3.8 miles and turn right on Old Murphy Rd. Drive another 0.2 miles on Old Murphy Rd and turn left on Wayah Rd (SR1310). Continue for 6.3 miles on Wayah Rd and turn left on the gravel FR388. If you are coming from the Robbinsville area, drive east on Wayah Rd for 21.9 miles and turn right on to FR388. Then drive 2 miles on FR388 to the obvious parking area on the right. One end of the loop trail begins here and that's how I will be describing the hike. This forest road is seasonal and is usually closed from January 1 - March 15 depending on conditions
The trail begins with a slight hill climb and soon comes to what looks like a split with double blue blazes on a tree. Be sure to turn right here and keep following the blazes. The trail is easy to follow from here and continues to gain a bit of elevation. At just over 0.4 miles into the hike, you'll come to a smaller 2 section waterfall which is also on Left Prong Rough Fork. It has some downfall on it, but is kind of nice if the water levels are up a bit. It doesn't have a name that I know of, and is the first waterfall shown in my video below.
waterfall below Rufus Morgan Falls
From here you can see Rufus Morgan Falls in the distance up the creek. The trail is a little steeper the remaining way to the waterfall. Continue a short distance past the smaller falls, then take the side trail up to Rufus Morgan. If you want to do the loop on the way back to the parking area, come back down the side trail and turn right on the main trail. It's another 0.5 miles downhill to a gate at FR388 just past the parking area. There are a lot of downed trees on the left side of Rufus Morgan Falls and clutter at the base of the falls, but it's still a great destination. According to Kevin Adams' NC Waterfalls guide book, the area is loaded with spring wildflowers in mid to late April.
Rufus Morgan Falls
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