Waterfall 1 on Sam Branch
Sam Branch is practically one long cascade after it drops below 5000' elevation. This portion of the falls, a shallow sliding cascade with some smaller vertical drops mixed in, is located right before it empties into the creek in Wash Hollow. The trail crosses this lowest series of falls about halfway up. The falls extend as far as you can see uphill, at which point the creek becomes a creek again and then turns into more falls going up and up.
- Height: Cascades; best estimate is between 20 - 50 feet depending on what you include.
- Elevation: 4178 ft
- Landowner: Pisgah National Forest
- GPS: 35.341035, -82.898067
From the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway and NC Hwy. 215, follow NC 215 North (toward Waynesville) for about 4 miles to the big left-hand hairpin turn. Park off the shoulder of the road on the right (there's a good bit of room just at the end of the curve).
The trail is only about 1/4 mile long and easy once you get up the bank. Walk back around the hairpin curve and climb the scramble path up the bank. This levels out onto an old logging road or railroad grade; go left. Follow the easy grade through rhododendrons to the falls at the first major creek crossing. This crossing can be treacherous, especially during high water or icy weather, since it's halfway up the falls.