Saturday, January 9, 2016

January 6, 2016 - Deep Gap Branch Trail, Southern Nantahala Wilderness area

Today's hike was mainly about one thing - getting back together with my hiking pal Bernie Boyer - waterfall finder extraordinaire!  If you have followed my web site in the past, you've seen me mention Bernie countless times.  He's been retired for years and spent a lot of his spare time studying topo maps and finding previously undocumented waterfalls.  He and his wife used to live nearby, but moved to north Georgia over a year ago.  My last hike with him was late November 2014 when a group of us hiked to Schoolhouse Falls before he moved.

the gang at Schoolhouse Falls

The plan today was for Cindy and me to meet Bernie and Brenda Wiley in Clayton GA, then drive from there over to the Southern Nantahala Wilderness area.  This area is actually in North Carolina, but the only way to get to it is through GA.  There are 2 NC waterfalls in this area that I visited years ago (and I would revisit tomorrow) and have directions on my site to the area here.  A North Carolina waterfall guide book by Melissa Watson lists another waterfall in the same area on Deep Gap Branch, so our mission today was to find that 40' waterfall!

Tate City Mall
Tallulah River Rd passes through the little community of Tate City, before ending at the parking area for the trail we were hiking.  The above picture might give you an idea of the size of the community along this stretch of gravel road.
entering the Southern Nantahala Wilderness area
There's only one trail leading off from this parking area and it gives access to both the Deep Gap Branch and Beech Creek Trails.  Our trail today would be the Deep Gap Branch Trail.  The guide book lists the waterfall we were looking for at about 1.3 miles up the trail with the last 0.1 miles as a bushwhack.  The trail wasn't in very good shape on this day.  A lot of that was probably due to all of the recent heavy rains in the area.  Sections of the trail probably looked like gushing creeks a few days ago and there were several downed trees we had to climb over.  At 0.4 miles in, the trail splits with our route heading up the left fork.  We had several creek crossings and wet areas to maneuver over and passed by this little wet weather waterfall.  It probably wouldn't have been worth stopping for if it weren't for the ice around it.

Along the way we also scoped out access to a couple of other creeks that have bigger waterfalls on them.  All of these are bushwhacks and we plan to hit them on another day.  We finally reached the point where we had to head off trail up to the waterfall, got to the point to where the waterfall was supposed to be and found this puny, pitiful looking waterfall probably less than 15' high.

waterfall on Deep Gap Branch Trail

This couldn't be it, could it?  Bernie matched up her coordinates with what he had on his GPS and Brenda went up creek a ways just to be sure.  This had to be it.  Even with the very small cascades below this section of the falls, one would have to be delusional to think this was 40' high.  Oh well - you don't know if you don't go.  We went and now we know.  There were some nice ice doodads hanging off of the clutter around the falls, and all 4 of us took time to shoot what we could before heading back.

ice doodads

On the way back we stopped at a small cascade along the Tallulah River that was actually nicer than the last one, then headed back to the vehicles.  As I said, there are some off trail waterfalls in this area and Denton Falls is off this same road back on the Georgia side, so we talked about meeting again soon for some more exploring.  You can view Bernie's pictures from our hike here.

small cascade on Tallulah River

1 comment:

  1. Great write up and photos, Rich!! I especially loved the second photo (above) of the "ice doodad", that was at the base of that waterfall. I didn't capture what I'd hoped to in my photos and I was eager to see yours!! You caught EXACTLY what I was looking for!!