Waterfall Chasing in Wilson’s Creek, North Carolina
Waterfall Chasing in Wilson’s Creek, North Carolina
As March rolls in, to us it means getting back outside and into the mountains as frequently as possible. Luckily we don’t live too far from some pretty amazing state parks, national forests, and national parks so we have a wonderfully full lineup upcoming for the season. Yay!
Wilson’s Creek, in the Grandfather Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest is right up the road from where we’re living currently, and boasts an extensive (and awesome) trail network. Hiking in Wilson’s Creek, North Carolina is a favorite among locals and those traveling to the region due to the abundance of waterfalls and beautiful vistas. We woke up on Saturday morning to crystal clear blue skies and a promise of temperatures in the mid 50’s, and we were ready to be on the trail.
Our friend from Charlotte came up to meet us, and brought his adorable husky puppy, Maya. (You can follow her on Instagram @mayaashcraftthehusky if you think she’s as cute as we do!) We’re still working on shedding our winter legs, so choosing a hike was mostly about getting back into shape rather than extreme distance or difficulty. We settled on the moderate 5.5 mile combination of North Harper Creek Trails and Little Lost Cove Trails. With the promise of a waterfall on North Harper Creek and views of Grandfather Mountain on Little Lost Cove Cliffs, I was sold easily.
We started with the Little Lost Cove, a 1.3 mile moderate trail full of diverse growth and interesting scenery. Maya the husky was racing between our feet, excited to be out of the city and into the woods with room to roam. Watching a dog enjoy so fully the small things life offers is a good reminder for us to follow their lead. 🙂
Since we’ve moved here, I’ve been in awe at how pretty and untamed the wilderness in the area is. I sort of thought we would never get out of our winter bubble, but it was easy to feel refreshed after even only a short amount of time in the woods.
The trail split to the right and after a short but steep incline, we were rewarded with sprawling views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the layers upon layers of mountains that the landscape of the Appalachia offers up. The mountains stretch on as far as the eye can see, like that of gently rolling ocean waves.
There are campsites quite literally on the top of the cliff, and I can only imagine what a show a sunrise and sunset would be here. Once the nights stop freezing over, we will definitely be returning to spend a night in this prime location.
As we followed the trail further, we found new angles of the mountains, steeper cliffs that dropped into a deep gorge below, and frozen water pools that Maya the husky loved to get into. After we had explored the cliff areas to our liking, we headed back towards the start of the trail to get to North Harper Creek Falls.
If I had thought the previous trail’s forest was beautiful, the North Harper Creek Falls trail blew it away. The trail meanders through rolling hills with a very typical “Pisgah feel” to it. There are pockets of old growth forest, cool deep greens, and trees that tower above you but still let in a great amount of light.
After exploring a bit below the waterfall on some hard creek bed, we continued on the path towards North Harper Creek Falls. A short walk away, we arrived to the beautiful and tumbling waterfall, with a crystal clear splash pool underneath the falls.
Cazzie and I have been working on the 100 Waterfall Challenge by the Carolina Mountain Club. Even though we’ve spent a good amount of time waterfall chasing, this was somehow only our 10th on the list. It’s safe to say we’ll be rather busy for quite some time reaching for that magical 100, and the discovery of waterfalls Wilson’s Creek, North Carolina has to offer was a game changer for us.
The water right now is ice cold, but we took off our boots and put our feet in to enjoy the moment anyways. This upcoming summer will be our second in North Carolina, and I feel like our list of things we want to do and see keeps getting longer rather than shorter. As soon as we cross one thing off, there’s three more that pop up. I’m definitely not complaining though. I’m honestly so immensely happy to be surrounded by such beautiful landscapes that there are still new things to explore!
Trail heads both start on Pinola Road in the Wilson’s Creek Area. You can get to this road from either Brown Mountain Beach Road, or from NC 181. Take 181 if possible because it’s a long stretch of unpaved gravel roads from Brown Mountain Beach Road. There’s parking for 2-5 cars at the trailhead.
Little Lost Cove Cliffs trail is blazed blue. It’s about 1.2 miles one-way. This trail is easy to moderate and offers views of Grandfather Mountain. Trail marker is labeled as 271A.
I honestly didn’t see many blazes on the North Harper Creek Falls trail. When I did see them though, they were orange. The trail is well maintained and isn’t difficult to follow. If you see trails leading downward, they lead to the base of the hard rock creek and you will have to re-climb the trail to join back with the original trail to the waterfall. This is quite tiring, so proceed with caution.
There is one stream crossing, but you are able to rock hop easily. This trail was about 1.7 miles one way because we ventured on an offshoot trail, but would be about 1.3 miles without any deviation. Trail marker is labeled as 239 and can be connected to multiple trails in the region for hike extension or back country camping.
Wilson’s Creek Visitor Center sells guide books and trail maps. Guide books are $20 each and trail maps were $14, but the staff is friendly and helpful and will direct you to any day hike areas if you do not want to make a purchase.