Yellow Branch Falls is a popular waterfall at the end of a 1.5 mile trail. Its popularity is in its size, its beauty, its character and even in the “personality of the trail,” so it one of those falls you visit time and again. For details on access, the trail and the waterfall, please refer to the previous article that appeared here some time ago.
Waterfallers get the question of why to return to a place you’ve already seen. The answer, of course, is that there is always something different about the experience. It might be the waterfall itself, the trail, the weather, the season, something along the trail or whatever, but you can always guarantee that each hike will be different in a memorable way.
So it was in the winter of 2013 on a return visit to Yellow Branch Falls. The trail was as interesting as it always is, with the distinct environments you pass through. But, this time, the surprise was to be found at the waterfall. The day before, a very strong storm had dumped several inches of water in the mountains so a full flow over the rock face was anticipated.
Given the arched, tiered makeup of Yellow Branch Falls, a strong water flow could present the rock face with complete coverage, something you don’t see in lesser flows when, after coming off the top tier, it gets segmented in the lower tiers.
And that’s what we got. With the exception of one spot, the entire rock face was covered with flowing water. The volume of water and the many tiers breaking up the flow created a “soft” flow down the face. It was striking.
But even more striking was the presence of a rainbow toward the bottom of the cascade. With the sun coming in late morning, the entire gorge filled with sunlight and illuminated the rock face making not only for the creation of excellent photographs but provided for the rarity of a very distinct rainbow.
Yes, Yellow Branch Falls had been seen before but never like this. As noted, each visit is new and this time, the elements presented would raise the rating of this waterfall from its current Spectacular to the newly-invented, just-for-this-occasion rating of Spectacular Plus.
At 100 feet tall and almost as broad at the base, Yellow Branch Falls is difficult to capture in a single photo so here is a video pan of the falls.