(Note: Of all the waterfalls documented by this Examiner, Lohr’s Falls is the most difficult to find. There is little reference information as to its location and the information that is available run from tenuous to incorrect. At any rate, hikers should be prepared for an ill-defined and sometimes non-existent trail that culminates with a difficult bushwhack of close to a half mile. A trail map is included in the slide show.)
Lohr’s Falls has always been a mystery. Research will disclose little information as to its whereabouts. Trail descriptions, what there are, are long and tedious with questionable landmarks. As such, it is seldom visited and the Grandfather Mountaineers had not attempted this waterfall before given the general expectation that it would not be found.
Since the “trail” intersects with the Yellow Branch Falls Trail, a revisit to Yellow Branch Falls brought the idea of giving it a try. After all, a 55-foot waterfall is worth finding. Oddly, enough, familiarity with the topography of the area and knowing the location of Yellow Branch and the purported location of Lohr’s Falls, the trailhead itself is rather intuitive.
Park at the Yellow Branch parking lot on Highway 28, up above Walhalla. It is almost directly across the road from the entrance to Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel. Take the Yellow Branch Falls Trail from the kiosk and you will pass through 2 of that trail’s “environments.” First, a stream will be immediately on your left in sort of a mini-gorge. A very interesting feature. The trail then opens out into a wide woodland bottom. At about 0.4 miles, the trail leaves the woodlands by making a hard left and crosses the stream. You can rock hop or there is a large log to cross over.
A few feet before you get to the stream, there is an old logging road that comes in on the right. It is quite indistinct. An equally indistinct path may also be seen leading up the middle of old road. There is a tree right at the intersection with an arrow cut into it to mark the trail.
Head up the old road for about 50 yards until it begins to turn to the right. On your left, coming up from the bottom below, will be a trail. A cairn has been built to mark this. Head down this trail and follow the path as best you can.
Because this path is seldom used, it can be indistinct at times or even disappear altogether. If it does, just remember to keep the stream on your left, not too far away. You will cross 2 smaller streams coming in from the right. The 2nd stream probably is about 0.4 miles from the intersection with the Yellow Branch Trail.
If you’re still on the path, it will present you with a difficult crossing of this second stream. Look upstream a few yards and you’ll see a large log that is perfect for crossing. Across the stream, you’ll be faced with the “nose” of a ridge. You want to cross this ridge, not straight on, but a little off to the left. In doing so, you’ll come down to a 3rd stream, larger in size, found in an open thicket of Mountain Laurel. This is the stream coming off Lohr’s Falls.
From this location, you will want to move upstream. The secret here is knowing the stream makes sort of a loop here after it comes out the gorge containing the waterfall. You’ll want to cross the stream probably a little above where you encountered the creek. This would put you at the top of the “loop.” Walking across the top of the loop toward water sounds will put you at a nice little water feature where the stream exits the gorge. It is only about 50 yards or so across the top of the loop.
You now have to bushwhack your way upstream. One way (there may be others) is to scramble up alongside the left of the stream until you can find a decent spot to cross. It is rather steep on the left side. Once across, continue upstream maybe 200 yards to the waterfall.
Lorh’s Falls is a double section tiered falls standing in a 55 feet with 40 of it in this lower section. There is another 15 feet above this but access is even more difficult than what you just went through. There is a large log across the rock face about half way up. The odd thing is that this tree is still alive and new growth has started from the trunk. In warm months, this growth will have leaves on it and will actually block part of the view. Given the difficulty of this hike, the need to see where you are along the way, and possible obstructions to the view during warm weather, it is recommended you do this hike in the winter.
Understanding how difficult this is to find, one thing you can be sure of. Lohr’s Falls is a waterfall that is probably the least visited of any around.