Timber Falls

Timber Falls

Nikon D800, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 19mm, f/11, 1/8 second, ISO 100, polarizing filter.

Beauty Rating:
Trail and bushwhack
Middle Creek, north prong
River Basin:
French Broad
About 4,315 feet
Type and Height:
Very steep cascade and free fall about 15 feet high
Pisgah National Forest, Appalachian Ranger District
Hike Distance:
About 3.5 miles
Hike Difficulty:
Photo Rating:
Waterfall GPS:
Trailhead GPS:
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Driving Directions

The trailhead is the same for Lower Middle Creek Falls, Squawroot Falls, Middle Creek Falls, Anaconda Falls, Crevice Falls, Timber Falls, Split Rock Falls, Guyot Falls, and Galvladi Falls (if you approach Galvladi From below).

From the junction of NC 80 and the Blue Ridge Parkway, drive north (away from Marion) on NC 80 for 5.6 miles and turn left on Colberts Creek Road (SR 1158) Drive 0.7 mile to a T intersection and turn right to remain Colberts Creek Road. Continue 0.1 mile and turn left onto a dirt road. Follow this road less than 0.1 mile to the trailhead at a gate.

Hike Description

I’m providing directions here for all of the waterfalls on Middle Creek and the north prong of Middle Creek—Lower Middle Creek Falls, Squawroot Falls, Middle Creek Falls, Anaconda Falls, Crevice Falls, Timber Falls, Split Rock Falls, Guyot Falls, Galvladi Falls. Please also see the Middle Creek Introduction before planning your hike. There’s some important information in there.

You need to make a decision before you hike Middle Creek. Do you want to see all of the waterfalls, or just the best ones? If you’re determined to see all of them, you’re looking at a long, very tough hike. Typically, for a hike like this, I would recommend starting at the top and following the creek all the way downstream. One way would be to leave a car at the lower trailhead and start hiking on Deep Gap Trail (Black Mountain Crest Trail) on Mount Mitchell. You would follow the trail to just beyond Balsam Cone, drop off the northeast side, and simply follow the drainage down.

Except it’s not simple. The first 1,000 feet of elevation is among the hardest hikes I’ve ever done. The slopes are so steep, the moss so thick, the trees so dense, that you have pay close attention to every step or risk a fall. Twisting an ankle or breaking a leg is a better possibility here than perhaps anywhere I’ve hiked in North Carolina.

Making it even less of an appealing option is the fact that the only waterfall high up the drainage, Galvladi Falls, is not very attractive and usually has very low water volume. From Galvladi Falls, you’ll have a long, relatively boring stretch before reaching the next waterfall, Guyot Falls. I think the better option would be to hike in from the bottom up to Guyot Falls and backtrack. Yes, you could hike in from below and go on up to Galvladi too, but man, what a long, strenuous day that would be, assuming you could even make it in a day.

If you hike in from below, you’ll start at the gate on Buncombe Horse Range Trail, or as it’s often called, Buncombe Horse Trail. At about 0.6 mile, you’ll reach a fork. Go left. In a little less than a mile from the fork, shortly before reaching Middle Creek, the trail makes a sharp left turn. The GPS reading for this point is N35.79639, W-82.21836 . In the outside of the turn is a path turning right. This path goes on a rough parallel of Middle Creek all the way to the confluence of the two prongs.

I did not measure the path, but I’d guess it at around 1.5 miles. It will seem longer. It’s not graded and doesn’t seem to follow a logical route. In places, it’s nothing but a place where there are no leaves on the ground. And it’s extremely steep in places. But it should be easy enough to follow and it’s much better than no path.

Two waterfalls are a short distance below the confluence of the prongs. You can’t see them from the path. The lower one is Lower Middle Creek Falls. As far as I know, there are no waterfalls downstream from it. The path stays mostly out of sight but within easy earshot of the creek. That, and studying the terrain as I hiked leads me to believe there is nothing significant downstream.

To see Lower Middle Creek Falls, you’ll need to leave the path around N35.79165, W-82.23522 . At this point on my visit, there were three fallen trees across the trail, one of them old and large. A few yards farther along the trail, there is a huge isolated boulder on the right.

The descent from the path to the creek is several hundred feet and very steep. If you don’t stray too far right or left, you should come out near the pool of the lower drop of the waterfall.

Squawroot Falls is a short distance upstream, but there’s no good way to reach it from the base of Lower Middle Creek Falls. You’ll be better off climbing back up to the path. When you get close to the confluence of the two prongs, you can work your way down to the base of the falls by the route of least resistance.

I have heard that there is path on river right that leads between Lower Middle Creek Falls and Squawroot Falls, but I did not check it out.

At the confluence of the north and south prongs of Middle Creek, you can easily see Middle Creek Falls, which is on the south prong. A faint path leads up to the base.

I have not explored the south prong above Middle Creek Falls, but I suspect there are waterfalls up there. For the remainder of the hike on the north prong, there is no trail of any kind.

The first waterfall you come to above the confluence is Anaconda Falls Reading taken from a point above the base). You’ll see how it gets its name as you ascend alongside it on river right, the easiest route. It’s very long and serpentine.

Crevice Falls comes next, where you’ll have to crawl up through a little canyon for an open view of the falls.

Next up is Timber Falls, named for the huge log that lies over the waterfall.

Split Rock Falls is a few yards upstream from Timber. In normal flow, the flow is divided as it falls.

Guyot Falls is a short distance upstream from Split Rock. It’s the highest waterfall on the creek other than Galvladi. You can’t see the upper portion from the base.

It is about a half-mile from Guyot Falls up to Galvladi Falls, over a mostly boring section of creek (there is one interesting spot). For most people, Galvladi simply won’t be worth it. In normal or low flows, it probably wouldn’t be worth it for anyone. A final deciding factor might be timing. It will be nearly impossible to hike safely up to Galvladi Falls and back to the trailhead in a single day, especially if you stop at each waterfall for pictures. If you’re moving that fast on the creek, you’re probably not being safe.


As with Split Rock Falls a short distance upstream, you’ll have no trouble figuring out how Timber Falls got its name. In this case, though, the huge tree trunk lying over the waterfall doesn’t overly distract from the viewing experience. It’s old, mossy, and gnarly, and adds character to the falls.

See the Middle Creek introduction page for general info about the creek and waterfalls.