In late September 2020, the autumn colors were just beginning to pop in western North Carolina. My friend, Charles, and I took off early on this Saturday morning to visit Sams Branch Falls. I had been to Sams Branch Falls before but it didn't really do much for me. But Charles had never seen it so off we went. Located not too far south of Sunburst Falls on NC215, it's trail head is not easy to find and has no real markings.
The start of the hike is a short but steep climb. As I was going up I wondered how the heck I was going to get down. The hike is pretty short and pretty easy. We heard the falls before we could see it and from the sound we expected good water flow. The trail gets a bit more challenging once you get to the waterfall as you have to leave the trail and descend a steep hillside a short ways. From there you have to maneuver up and around wet slippery rocks and boulders. But when you see the waterfall, it is so worth it.
You can see some of the rocks you have to get around to capture new compositions. But the early morning light was soft and wonderful.
After shooting here for awhile, Charles wanted to try to find Lower Bubbling Springs Branch Falls. The trailhead was located on NC 215 just south of where it crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had tried to find this falls with another friend but we couldn't follow the directions and never found it. Charles and I started off and made several false starts again. But the process of elimination and sheer stubbornness finally paid off. There were a few stream crossings along the way and the final stretch was walking in the stream, which was pretty slippery. At this point all we were doing was following the water upstream heading toward the sound of the waterfall. But once again, our efforts paid off and we reached it.
There were only a couple of places to safely set up a tripod. As you can see, the rocks were covered with very slippery moss, which made moving around very difficult. Conditions were still good with the sun not yet hitting the water here. So moving quickly we got off as many shots as we could. But our luck did not last for long and the bright sun poured out onto the water bringing a great morning to an end.
But what a successful day. Revisited one waterfall in excellent conditions with blooming autumn colors and another seen for the first time. A winning day for sure. I could hardly wait for my next autumn adventure.
Keywords: lower bubbling springs branch falls, moss, nature, nikon, north carolina, reid northrup, rocks, sams branch falls, water, waterfall
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