Tuesday, March 6, 2007
thru-hikers on the AT (as it's located 1/10 of a mile off of the AT). At 100 feet high, this impressive waterfall ought to get more attention. The top part of the falls is mostly a free fall, while the bottom half of the falls is a beautiful, flowing cascade. It's definitely worth the hike. It's located just inside of the Tennessee line in Carter County, between the towns of Roan Mountain, TN and Elk Park, NC. It's best to go after a good rain. Jones Falls is located at a high elevation, so the watershed of Jones Branch is limited. And if you're interested in photos, I also recommend going on a cloudy or overcast day, as the top part of the falls is exposed to the sunlight.
There are two ways to get to the falls. One coming in from the NC side via Elk River Falls. The other from the TN side hiking in on the AT. I recommend the first (NC) approach.
Click here for my full post on Elk River Falls). I believe there used to be a river trail that would allow you to continue on to Jones Falls, but I found the way completely overgrown beyond recognition. So save yourself the hassle, and backtrack to the parking area. Once there go around the forest service gate and turn right and follow the well-established forest service road for 3/4 of a mile until it reaches the river. Once there, continue on to your left (don't cross the river) and you'll find a narrow trail that follows the river. Take this for about 1/4 mile until you come to a small campsite and then look for where the trail crosses a small stream (which is actually Jones Branch) and then begins to climb. Follow this and you'll very quickly come to the Appalachian Trail (you'll know it's the AT when you see the white slashes on the trees). Turn left and hike approximately 1 mile to the sign pointing the way to Jones Falls. Take this spur for 1/10 of a mile to Jones Falls. [update 3/13/14 - the sign has been torn down].
Elizabethton toward Roan Mountain. Continue past the town of Roan Mountain to where the AT crosses 19E (just barely inside TN -- if you enter NC, you've gone too far). Turn left onto Bear Branch Road and continue 1.8 miles till you reach a stop sign. Turn left onto Buck Mountain Road and continue for 1.7 miles. The AT crosses Buck Mountain Road right after Buck Mountain Baptist Church on your right (you have to look carefully for the white blaze). I parked off to the side in the church parking lot. Take the AT to your right, down the steep slope. After a 1/2 mile, you'll cross Campbell Hollow Rd. (btw...there isn't a place here to leave a car), stay on the AT. It's about an hour hike (and that's moving pretty quick) to the falls. Again, a sign will point the way to the short spur that leads to the falls.
Other very helpful posts on Jones Falls can be found online:
NC Waterfall Hikes
It's a very slippery place, so exercise caution there.
Also... we noticed on our approach to Jones Falls via Elk Falls on the AT this large upper section of the falls (right)... it doesn't appear to be the same section of the falls pictured above. Anyone know if it's possible to get there or how tall the entire waterfall is?