Pine Ridge Falls trail head is a short distance up the road from Sill Branch Falls. The parking lot is a decent size. It will be on your left and looks like just one of the former camping spots so be sure peer into the spot and you can see the trail head marker. The trail head is marked with a sign that says, “Longarm Branch.” This is the correct trail.
The beginning of the trail is marked with yellow blazes. The yellow blazes will continue all the way until you cross the creek.
When we went, the creek was low and we were able to cross without even getting our feet wet. Of course, this is always dependent upon the amount of recent rainfall.
Immediately after the creek crossing, you will take a left (almost a 180° turn) to reach the falls. There will no longer be yellow blazes on this part of the trail, but it is a straight shot until you get there. It is easy to get down to the falls from the trail and there is a small area where little ones could splash around and play on the rocks. This is such a peaceful lesser known spot.
This area of Cherokee National Forrest is a bear sanctuary. So, make sure to be bear aware, (on any trail really), especially on this trail or the surrounding ones. I have mentioned before that we have come to neighboring trails to this one many many times. We have only seen one bear here ever. So, while it is something to be mindful of, there is no guarantee that you will even see one. Another thing to take note of is that this trail can also be used for biking and horseback riding. There were a lot of horse droppings along the trail, so be on the lookout. We were thankful that we all avoided stepping in it, despite some close calls!
This trail was a win with all three boys. It is a great choice if you are short on time but still want to get your nature fill for the day. We came on a Sunday afternoon when the weather was questionable, but we had a brief break in the clouds for a quick adventure. The road leading up to this trail also has multiple spots where you could stop and play in the creek. We have come here just for that purpose many times and really enjoyed it. We love this area of Erwin!