Hurricane Creek Falls

Hurricane Creek Falls

Nikon D800, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 17mm, f/8, 1/30 second, ISO 200, polarizing filter.

Beauty Rating:
Trail and bushwhack
Hurricane Creek
River Basin:
Little Tennessee
Very Small
4,040 feet
Type and Height:
Long series of falls and cascades. The total height is perhaps about 100 feet.
Nantahala National Forest
Rainbow Springs and Prentiss
Hike Distance:
About 1.5 miles
Hike Difficulty:
Photo Rating:
Generally about 70°
Waterfall GPS:
N35.05582, W-83.50026  

Coordinates taken from the point where I shot the photo. It is a short distance upstream from the base of the falls.

Trailhead GPS:
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Driving Directions

The trailhead is the same as Sassafras Ridge Falls.

From the junction of US 441/23 and US 64 in Franklin, drive west on US 64 for 11.95 miles and turn left on West Old Murphy Road. There is a sign here for Wallace Gap and Standing Indian Campground. Drive 1.9 miles to Wallace Gap, turn right on FR 67, and go 1.7 miles to where the road forks. The right fork leads to the campground. Take the left fork and drive 2.1 miles to the gated FR 7282 on the left. The road changes to gravel on the way. There is a sign at FR 7282 for Blackwell Gap Loop and Hurricane Creek Loop. If there is no room to park at the gate, there is a small pullout a short distance back up the road.

FR 67 may be gated in winter at a point 0.1 mile from the turnaround where the pavement ends. This will add about 1.7 one-way miles to the hike.

Hike Description

If you plan to do any hiking in the area other than following these directions to the letter, I recommend you get the Southern Nantahala Wilderness and Standing Indian Basin map published by the Forest Service. It is an excellent topo map showing hiking and horse trails. Many of these trails are not shown on the Rainbow Springs topo map. Regardless of what map you use, I should caution you about the many discrepancies regarding forest road and trail numbers. If you plan to follow a route different from what I describe here, you should carry a GPS unit and know how to read a topo map.

Begin by hiking to Sassafras Ridge Falls by following these directions: The trail follows the old forest road beyond the gate and ascends moderately to reach a trail marked 36B turning right at about 0.5 mile. I have no idea where this trail leads, but I suspect it goes to Hurricane Creek Horse and Primitive Campground. Continue on the road for about 35 yards to where another road turns left. Continue straight ahead and in a quarter-mile you’ll cross a small branch. The branch runs through a pipe under the road, so it might not be obvious. Before you reach the crossing, you might spot Horse Trail Falls on the branch through the trees. It’s not worth climbing down the bank unless the water is very high.

Immediately past the crossing, an old overgrown logging road veers right. Follow it along the contour for a little less than 0.4 mile. The road passes very close by Sassafras Ridge Falls. You’ll hear it easily and see it well in winter. You can’t view the entire waterfall from any one point, so you’ll have to climb around to see it all.

To reach Hurricane Branch Falls, you’ll need to follow the contour south into the Hurricane Creek drainage. As long as you start from the base of Sassafras Creek Falls and don’t ascend, you’ll remain in a mostly open forest that is relatively easy to bushwhack through. It’s about a quarter-mile to Hurricane Creek. You should come to it below the falls. You may find an old logging road you could use to help you get up to the falls, but the forest is easy enough to walk through.

You can see only a small portion of the falls from any single point, so you’ll have to do some difficult scrambling and rhodo-crawling to see all of it. If it’s still covered in trees as it was on my visit, you probably won’t think it’s worth it.

There may be an easier way to reach the falls, but I haven’t field checked it. Not too far downstream from the waterfall is Hurricane Creek Horse and Primitive Campground by FR 67. I didn’t see any trails near the falls, but I suspect there may be paths leading from the campground upstream along Hurricane Creek. Even if they go for only a short distance, the forest here is open and not very steep. It may be just as easy to hike upstream from FR 67 to the falls as it would be to come from Sassafras Ridge Falls, and the total hike distance would be much shorter that way. Of course, by doing the latter, you’ll see two falls on the hike.


I’ve known this waterfall existed for many years, but somehow never took the chance to see it until recently. It won’t make it on any of my favorites lists, but I’m glad to have seen it. If it were possible to see the entire falls at once, and if it weren’t literally covered in fallen trees and branches, it would be quite impressive. As it is, I would say this is one for hard-core waterfallers only. If you’re going to make the journey here, I definitely recommend visiting Sassafras Ridge Falls on the same trip.

Nearby Waterfalls