Devoted to exploring off the beaten path for beautiful waterfalls, wildflowers, and landscapes in West Virginia.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

For Waterfalls Galore Hike up Marr Branch: A Photographic Tour

For one unbroken chain of grand cascades, cataracts, and falls, try a hike up Marr Branch in the New River Gorge. But first be forewarned, this is not an easy hike, but a challenging scramble up a bushwhacked trail. Nevertheless, it’s well worth the effort.
  
To get to the mouth of Marr Branch, park at the white water rafting “take in” point on the New River (GPS: Lat. 38.067346, Long. -81.082240) just downstream from the Fayette Station Bridge. Park at the far end of the lot by the rest rooms and scramble up a short slope to the railroad tracks that run along the south side of the New River. Hike downstream on the railroad track for about a mile. 
Marr Branch: Trinity Falls
Getting to the mouth of Marr Branch requires walking on the railroad tracks, which technically is trespassing. It’s also a bit dangerous, so keep alert, listen and look both ways. At its confluence with the New River, Marr Branch makes a nice run as a waterfall, dives into a culvert, and rushes to join the New River. 
Mouth of Marr Br.
Start climbing on the right hand side of the creek and you’ll pick up a faint, but recognizable bushwhacked trail. Be sure to take excursions to your left to the creek bed to view the cataracts and falls. The first view up Marr Branch I call the “Siren’s Call” because the size and number of the cataracts you can see beckons a waterfall lover higher. 
Siren's Call
Get back on the main trail to climb higher because the creek bed is choked with large, slippery, and impassable boulders. Eventually you come to a basin, with a waterfall dashing down about a 30 foot solid sandstone ledge. It’s a rocky reminder that you’re chasing waterfalls in the rugged New River Gorge. I call this waterfall “Basin Falls.” 
Basin Falls
To get a photograph of Basin Falls together with the overlying “Trinity Falls,” I had to invent a way to get into the right position. To quote from Randall Sanger’s and my waterfall photography book West Virginia Waterfalls: The New River Gorge (link): “To capture this image, I gingerly took a few steps down a slippery, sloping boulder while clinging to a limb of a fallen tree that acted like a “guard rail” so to speak. With my tripod straddling the limb and one leg of the tripod secured against my foot, I snapped three frames while panning down the scene. With some panorama software, I stitched together the three shots and much to my relief got this image, which is wonderful, because I’m never going to try that stunt again.”
Basin & Trinity Falls
Climbing higher takes you to a gorgeous three-fold drop of some 40 feet, which I call “Trinity Falls.” Fortunately it’s easy to photograph from a flat rock basin or from the side. It’s a picturesque New River Gorge waterfall that few ever experience up close. 
Trinity Falls
To access Marr Branch above Trinity Falls requires a lot of side slope and uphill climbing. I close with another quote from Randall Sanger’s and my book: “After the previous waterfall image, ‘Trinity,’ I thought I was done for the day, and so did this aging body. But my curiosity coaxed me to trudge on a little higher. While doing so, an upper waterfall peeked at me, and I was committed to more climbing. I’m glad I did. For after considerable huffing and puffing, I worked my way up to this rough-hewn stretch of Marr Branch. With my legs giving out and rain clouds approaching, I reluctantly turned around at this point and left photographing the upper stretch of this cascade, which is clearly fertile ground for more fine waterfall shots, for another day or another photographer (perhaps you).”   
Fertile Ground
To view a post about the waterfalls of Upper Marr Branch click here.

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