Backpack Along Whitaker Creek

Rate this Adventure 5 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by John Chau

Hike along brilliantly blue cascading waterfalls and find a few swimming holes. Avoid the crowds that gather above you at Whitaker Point as you descend into the valley.

After arriving at the Whitaker Point/Hawksbill Crag trailhead, start going down the path for about 1/8th of a mile. You’ll cross a small stream, and here is where you’ll turn off the trail. Using Whitaker Creek as your guide, follow it like a handrail as it descends down into the confluence with the Buffalo River.

After you have gone about a ½ of a mile, you’ll reach a large drop off where the Lower Fork of Whitaker Creek has become a decently high waterfall. Find the trail on your left and follow it along the bluffline and then around to the right as it goes behind the waterfall. Snap some neat photos and grab a bite to eat while enjoying the cool cascade. Then go back toward the path by the bluffline and follow it about fifty yards further. Find a slightly less-steep area off-trail that you can descend toward the creek and carefully descend down into the valley.

Continue to follow the creek downstream (heading east), and use particular caution when going over large boulders (especially if you do this hike in the winter), as some of them drop off directly into deep pools of water.

Eventually you will reach the confluence of Whitaker Creek and the Buffalo River. Here the water gets deeper and swifter, so head north and stay on the left (western) side of the Buffalo. Continue a little further and you will spot an old rock chimney and the foundations of an old homestead. This is a decent spot to camp, but if you’d like a closer location ot the river, keep going further down the Buffalo River.

Following animal trails, you should reach a relatively flat spot with an old firepit that you can set up your camp at. If you can’t find it, look around for any flat spot by the river and camp there. Use Leave-No-Trace policies and don’t leave a mess for the next person to find!

Fish for smallmouth bass near the big, mossy rock about 75 yards further downstream. Be on the lookout for deer, wild boar, and coyotes as dusk approaches.

If you go during a full moon, you might have the chance to see moonbeams stretching across the night sky as the moon slowly starts to rise above the hill to the east.

Stay as long as you’d like the next day, but remember that it is a bit of a bushwack back to the trailhead! Hike back the way you came, and as you pass by the waterfalls, feel free to swim around in the vibrantly blue pools. They aren’t quite as deep as they might look, so definitely check out their depths before jumping in.

Note:
  • Fresh water (always filter or boil it though) is easily accessible on this hike since you follow two primary water sources
  • Don’t do the bushwack in the summer unless you absolutely love ticks and poison ivy
  • It’s a moderate bushwack, but the length is perfect for beginners wanting more experience with using a map and a compass
  • You are not allowed to camp at Whitaker Point/Hawksbill Crag, but definitely check it out (if you like popular places) after or before your hike along Whitaker Creek
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Tags

Camping
Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

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