Bubbling Spring Branch is a trail right off of Highway 215 in the Pisgah National Forest. It’s about a half mile north of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, near Wildcat Falls and Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades. There’s a gravel parking lot on the western side of the street that is very rutted and almost bottomed out my car. Park there and walk north for twenty yards and you’ll see the trailhead on the left side of the road.
The actual trail is not marked at all. If people haven’t hiked it in a while, you’ll feel like you’re bushwhacking. You basically follow the creek northwest until you come to the lower and then upper falls. You’ll cross the creek several times and pass through a few campsites. If the water is high, you will definitely get your feet wet. But I think the views are worth the trouble.
It’s a pretty level and easy hike, but the lack of blazes and slick rocks means this isn’t very a kid-friendly trail. I learned about this hike from North Carolina Waterfalls: A Hiking and Photography Guide. I like to hike trails that have some kind of spectacle, especially when there’s no loop and I have to backtrack. If you like that too, then this book is definitely worth checking out.
If you want a more kid-friendly swimming hole, visit Bubbling Spring Branch Cascades just up the road. It’s difficult to get from the road to the ground, but it’s a place you can spend all day having fun in the woods and the water.