Rufus Morgan Falls

One of North Carolina's most beautiful wildflower trails, the hike to Rufus Morgan Falls is best trekked during the second half of April.

The falls itself is named for Albert "Uncle Rufus" Morgan, a poet, conservationist, Episcopal priest, and dedicated hiker who maintained a large chunk of the Appalachian Trail up until his death in 1983 at age 97. While this waterfall pays homage to a Smoky Mountains legend, its narrow chute, partially-hidden by surrounding tree trunks, makes it rather difficult to photograph—see if you're up for the challenge. Fed by Left Prong Rough Fork, it features a steep, cascading slide standing at 65 feet high.

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Hike Description

The trail leading from the parking area is easily followed. You’ll climb via switchbacks and follow a small drainage for a short distance before crossing the branch and swinging around to cross Left Prong at 0.4 mile. After crossing, you’ll climb alongside a small sliding waterfall. The trail swings away from the creek and climbs to a sharp switchback at a junction. Turn right and climb 85 yards to the base of the falls.

On the way back, you can take the trail to the left at the junction to make this a loop hike. The trail comes out on FR 388 on the other side of Left Prong from the trailhead.

If you hike to the falls in reverse manner from the above description, you’ll cross the creek on the road, then follow the trail a few feet to a fork. The right fork follows the creek upstream. Take the left fork to reach the falls.  

Leave No Trace -- Seven Principles

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

For more details, visit www.lnt.org
©1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

Safety

Heed posted warning signs indicating danger and stay on established trails. Never climb on or around waterfalls and never play in the water above a waterfall. Rocks can be slippery and it's easy to lose your balance especially with bare feet. Currents near waterfalls can be extremely swift even in areas further upstream. Never jump off waterfalls or dive into plunge pools at the base of waterfalls. Rocks and logs can be hidden beneath the surface of the water. Often waterfall pools have swirling water or currents that can drag and keep you underwater. Even if you have seen other people enjoy playing around waterfalls, be aware they have been lucky to escape unharmed. Waterfalls are constantly changing with varying water flows and erosion of the rocks around them. The current from one place to the next may be faster than you anticipate and the arrangement of rocks or other debris such as logs in the plunge pool is ever changing.

 

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