By Jeremy Patton
Pole Bridge Branch is located in Daniel Boone National Forest, Pulaski County, Kentucky.
The easiest way to access this tributary of the Rockcastle River is to join Nathan McClure Trail #530 from FR 122A (see my articles on Nathan McClure Trail for more information).
The following map lists five waterfalls: Two on Pole Bridge Branch and three on its tributaries. I have not explored the entire area, so I may find additional waterfalls in the future.
All the waterfalls are difficult to access, so be in shape and be careful.
Nathan McClure Trail parallels Pole Bridge Branch as it cuts a gorge to the Rockcastle River. Two waterfalls live within its deepest recesses, and the second one is especially challenging to photograph.
Pole Bridge Branch Falls #1 is located about 0.20 miles below the foot bridge on Nathan McClure Trail. It is shaped by large boulders that are lodged in the creek.
Pole Bridge Branch Falls #2 is a roaring cascade. It glides along a wide, rocky slope before disappearing behind jungle-like stands of rhododendron.
After joining Nathan McClure Trail from FR 122A (about 0.8 miles from the road’s terminus), you will soon meet up with a ravine on your left, a tributary of Pole Bridge Branch. If the water is flowing, you will hear a waterfall, but will not be able to see it. Attempting to descend from this point can be dangerous due to the high cliffs. There is a pass to go down, but it can be tricky to find. On my first attempt, I took the relatively safe route by following the ridge until it tapered then walked upstream into the ravine. It was rhododendron-clogged and frustrating, but worth it.
Pole Branch Tributary Falls #1 was tall with a massive rock shelter. There was no evidence that it had been visited by humans. I loved it.
I moved behind the falls and walked to the end of the rock shelter, where a pass led back up to the trail. Sometimes the easy route is found the hard way.
I discovered Pole Bridge Branch Tributary Falls #2 on 3/16/17 while driving to the Nathan McClure trailhead. I accidently drove past it then noticed another faint path about 100 meters to the southeast. It paralleled another ravine and as before, a short hike led to a waterfall crashing below the cliff-line. The stream joined Pole Bridge Branch just below the foot bridge on Nathan McClure Trail.
Continue hiking southeast on Nathan McClure Trail then climb into the hills above the river. Pole Bridge Branch Tributary Falls #3 trickles down a back corner of the bluff, flanked by impressive rock houses. I hope to return to it one day after a big storm.
Added 3/19/17 – Updated 3/23/17