Walhalla’s Yellow Branch Falls is a hidden gem
In Walhalla, Isaqueena Falls gets a lot of attention, but nearby is another great spot, Yellow Branch Falls.
Aside from the falls itself, the picnic area is really cool. There are several outdoor tables, plus a high-ceilinged shelter in a log cabin style with a large stone fireplace. Plenty of picnic tables and benches would make this a fun spot for a crowd to gather before an easy, scenic hike.
The trail is about 1½ miles one-way, making it just over three miles round trip. The nearly flat trail runs alongside a creek which creates a pleasant rippling sound long before you hit the falls. My kids loved this hike because you crossed the creek several times on stepping stones. I managed to get across without getting my feet wetonce!
There were three footbridges where my 5-year-old stomped and yelled to scare away any potentially ruthless trolls. We were lucky to have this intrepid little person to protect us!
The one cause for concern on this hike was a narrow spot which ran alongside a deep ravine. My careful kids weren’t a worry. However, the Atlanta friends who accompanied us had spent too much time in the big city to know how to behave safely on the trail. My friend’s 9-year-old skipped along carelessly (and a little clumsily). Her 12-year-old was adroit, but arrogant, sliding and jumping along to the point where I worried she would twist an ankle on a root. My oldest got carried away with these friends and ran ahead. This trip was an important reminder that kids really need to be educated about how to be safe outdoors – staying with the group and not getting ahead of an adult and also watching their steps carefully. Given how many 5-year-olds managed, I’d think it’s really more a matter of education than maturity.
Once we arrived at the falls, the vision was a real treat. This one ranks as a big favorite for me. The size was grand, but the water fell in thin streams on rock ledges. The best comparison I can make is tinsel draped on the branches of a Christmas tree.
The walk back involved a few steps upward, which was the most strenuous part of the hike, but they were over quickly. Overall, I would disagree with any reviews that call it moderate; this is one I’d call easy. We left Greenville in late afternoon and returned before dark.
This place should go at the top of your bucket list. It’s nearby, and it’s an easy trail that still gives you the sense of a real hike. The waterfall itself is a gorgeous – as good as any in Western North Carolina. Plus the picnic area is just as nice as the Paris Mountain State Park shelters.
You can go
Yellow Branch Falls is located within Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests in Walhalla. Visit www.fs.usda.gov/
scnfs for more details about this area.