Barren Branch is a wonderful stream to explore in West Virginia, and the trek will definitely utilize the term ‘explore’, as there are no trails. It’s just you and the creek bed, as well as some downed trees and thick brush – a lot of rhododendron.
This exploration is not for the faint of heart. To view every waterfall, it’s about 1.5 miles of creek bed walking (most of it is in water so bring wet shoes) – and though I did take some time to soak it all in, it took me about 3 1/2 hours. However, if you’re up for the challenge, it’s definitely worth it, as there are some really nice waterfalls. I counted and documented eight in total, all of which you can see below.
I parked in a wide spot off the right side of the roadway heading toward Thurmond just past a giant building (it looks like a small industrial farm to me) that sits on the same side of the road. Dunloup Creek is on your right side during this part of Thurmond Road. The bridge that allows Dunloup Creek to cross back to your left side is the indicator that you have driven a little too far. The approximate location to park is shown in the map below:
Once you park there, you’ll look for a little path that heads down to Dunloup Creek. You’ll cross Dunloup Creek (be careful, it’s slick!) and then begin making your way up Barren Branch. Please again keep in mind that this is a slick creek bed, particularly the beginning portion closest to where it empties into Dunloup Creek. It gets less slick as you walk up the creek, but you’ll encounter more and more fallen timber. There are times where it is a bit of a mess to climb through, but take it easy and slow, and you’ll make it up there! All of the waterfalls I encountered are below. I walked just past the intersection of Barren Branch with Turley Branch, which is about 3/4 of a mile up. I’ve read that not much farther beyond that, it turns into private property.
It’s a very serene and secluded area. Take your time and enjoy! I went on this exploration during the middle of summer and didn’t have any problems with water flow, but unlike Dunloup Creek, I could see this branch drying up during times of extreme heat or drought – which would make the trip not worth it. You will get your exercise, but it’s very rewarding!
|Name of Waterfall||Coordinates||Description|
|Barren Branch #1||37.92483, -81.117255||Small four-footer at the beginning of the trek|
|Barren Branch #2||37.924478, -81.117036||Eight foot shelf waterfall – nice for angles!|
|Barren Branch #3||37.924117, -81.117303||A couple of small two feet tall waterfalls on each side of creek|
|Barren Branch #4||37.924147, -81.117455||A nice wide five-footer – a nice pool below the falls|
|Barren Branch #5||37.923683, -81.117797||The most photogenic – a six foot cascade into a large pool|
|Barren Branch #6||37.92163, -81.120353||A beautiful eight foot staircase waterfall – very serene!|
|Barren Branch #7||37.920912, -81.120880||Unusual rock drop-off – unique!|
|Turley Branch #1||37.920845, -81.120942||Definitely the largest at 15 to 20 feet – beautiful flow!|