Lower Sam Branch Falls Highly recommended waterfall for everyone!

Lower Sam Branch Falls

This is the view upstream from the trail crossing. Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 22mm, f/22, 2 seconds, ISO 200, polarizing filter.

Beauty Rating:
Sam Branch
River Basin:
French Broad
4,320 feet
Type and Height:
Long, sliding cascade ending with two near-vertical drops
Pisgah National Forest, Pisgah Ranger District
Sam Knob
Hike Distance:
0.25 mile
Hike Difficulty:
Photo Rating:
Waterfall GPS:
Trailhead GPS:
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Driving Directions

The trailhead is the same as for Wash Hollow Falls. From the junction of NC 215 and the Blue Ridge Parkway at Beech Gap, drive north on NC 215 for 4.1 miles to where the road turns sharply left. Park along the shoulder here. If you cross the river a second time, you’ve gone too far; turn around and drive back 0.2 mile to the curve. The curve is 13.8 miles south of US 276.

Hike Description

Walk south along the outside of the curve to the end of the guardrail and climb the steep bank on a scramble path to pick up an old logging grade. Turn left and follow the path to the falls. The trail has become overgrown, but it is still easily followed and nearly level. It crosses the creek above a lower section of the Lower Sam Branch Falls. In low water, you’ll need to be careful. In high water, it’s not safe to cross.

Wash Hollow Falls is a short distance farther along the trail beyond Sam Branch.


You can’t see all of this waterfall from the trail crossing, and there is no good way to see the upper portion, but that’s okay. The part you can see makes it more than worth the hike. In fact, considering the beauty rating and the short, relatively easy hike, I highly recommend this waterfall for everyone.

You can view it without crossing the creek, but some of the best views for photography are from the other side. A short path descends steeply to a rock overlook that is perfectly positioned for shooting the 10-foot drop that is directly below the trail. A few feet beyond this path is another path that leads down to the base of the lowest drop.

The trail to the falls is along an old logging railroad bed. You’ll see old steel cables in the creek bed, leftovers from the logging days. Logging occurred over most of the West Fork Pigeon River watershed during the early 1900s.

This is the lower section of the falls. Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 22mm, f/22, 1 second, ISO 200, polarizing filter.

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