Lower Sam Branch Falls

Lower Sam Branch Falls is is a very pretty waterfall, located just off Highway 215 in North Carolina.  The falls is one of three waterfalls that are very close together.  Just out of site from Lower Sam Branch Falls is Wash Hollow Falls.  Sunburst Falls is located just a short distance down 215 from the Parking area for Sam Branch Falls.

Location: In Pisgah National Forest, off Highway 215 near The Blue Ridge Parkway
Roundtrip Distance: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate – The very first portion is difficult, but after that very easy.
Handicap Accessible: No
Dog-Friendly: Yes
Features: Waterfalls, Forest
Directions: From The Blue Ridge Parkway, take NC Highway 215 exit at MP423. Take 215 North for 4 miles, to a hairpin turn. Park in gravel pullover area on the right, in the turn.
Recommended Gear: Standard Day hiking essentials, [easyazon_link identifier=”1566953324″ locale=”US” tag=”blueridgemountainlife-20″]Pisgah National Forest Ranger District Trail Map[/easyazon_link]

Hiking to Lower Sam Branch Falls

From the Parking area on NC 215, walk back up 215 to the east end of the parking area.  From there, you’ll see a short, but very steep “scramble” trail going up.   Climb it, to reach an old logging road.   This is the most difficult part of the hike.  There are lots of roots and trees to grab onto here.

At the logging trail, go left and follow it to Lower Sam Branch Falls.  The hike is short, about .25 files.

You’ll reach Lower Sam Branch Falls on some rocks across and above the falls.   You can climb down the rocks for some for better views.  When water levels are low it’s safe, but do not cross when water levels are high.   There is a smaller waterfall just below where you’ll climb down, and slipping could result in being seriously injured.

Lower Sam Branch Falls

Lower Sam Branch Falls

Lower Sam Branch Falls is a very pretty 15′ – 20′ waterfall, and well worth the visit, especially given the short hike off Highway 215.  The Upper portion of the Falls is not visible from here.  

There is somewhat of a  trail going up to the upper portion, on the opposite side of Sam Branch, but we do not recommend hiking up to it.  The upper portion is remote, and the hike very dangerous.  One bad slip and you could be injured or killed, and nobody would find you. 

The best views of the falls and optimal photo locations are on the opposite side of Sam Branch.  The climb down is a bit tricky, so be careful.  Again, cross only when water levels are down.

On the far side is a trail to Wash Hollow Falls, only a very short distance away.  Immediately to the left is a small trail going down to a boulder, that provides an excellent view of the Falls.

Before reaching Lower Sam Branch Falls, there are a couple of scramble trails going down as well.  These take you down below Lower Sam Branch Falls and offer some excellent photo opportunities, and a unique view of the Lower Sam Branch Falls.   Just be careful, as these are not formal trails, and are steep.  This is a beautiful area, and well worth the scramble down and up.

Lower Sam Branch Falls
Lower Sam Branch Falls – From below the falls, via a scramble trail

>> Be sure to visit Wash Hollow Falls and Sunburst Falls while visiting!   See our full list of waterfall guides!


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About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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