Day Hiking The Coon Branch Trail And Lower Whitewater Falls

I was hoping to get one more hike in before the end of the month, so on Thursday, I dropped my kids off at school and then drove to the trailhead at Bad Creek Access.

I planned to hike the half mile spur to the junction for the Coon Branch Natural Area. From there, I would hike the Coon Branch Trail out and back, then cross the Whitewater River and hike to the overlook for Lower Whitewater Falls.

From the trailhead, I hiked into an open area with few trees. This time last year there had been lots of bear activity here and I had seen a black bear and her two cubs. This year I did not see any fresh signs of bear activity.

Once you pass the open area, you enter the woods and immediately climb these steps.


Now that it’s Autumn, the views were a lot more open up than they were when I last hiked the spur trail.


When I reached the junction for Coon Branch, I crossed this bridge. It was the first of four or five that I would cross on this trail.


The Coon Branch Trail climbs gently and parallels the Whitewater River.


Along the trail, there are these two nice but very different benches.



The trail ends on the bank of the river. There is a huge Fraser Magnolia tree here. I’m not sure that it’s still alive though. It was missing part of it’s top. I think that it had been one of the largest specimens in the state.


After a few minutes, I turned around and hiked back to the junction, then I crossed the Whitewater River on two iron bridges and began the hike towards Lower Whitewater Falls.


On the other side, the trail climbs steeply to a ridge. I passed these flowers during my climb. I’m not sure what kind they are, but I think that they may be a variety of Daisies.


There were lots of Autumn colors down in the hollow as I approached the falls.


This is the view of Lower Whitewater Falls from the overlook. Even from this distance and even with trees in the foreground, the falls were very impressive.



This is what the area around of the observation deck looked like.


The canopy of tree branches above the observation deck were full of pretty fall colors. I stayed here for about 20 or 25 minutes and ate a sandwich while I enjoyed the setting, then I gathered my gear and headed back towards the trailhead.



On my way out, I took this picture of my shadow. Does this count as a selfie?


All in all, I hiked something like 5.8 miles and the elevation gain was a little over a thousand feet. The weather was picture perfect and I’m glad that it worked out for me to be able to get this last hike in for October.

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