Curtis Creek

Curtis Creek is a an area in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest in McDowell County near the town of Old Fort.  The Curtis Creek area was the first tract of land purchased for an eastern National Forest under the Weeks Act in 1911.  The area contains a campground, picnic areas and several miles of hiking trails.

Directions:

The Curtis Creek area is located northeast of Old Fort.  Coming from the west, take I-40 to exit 72 and follow US-70 east through Old Fort.  In about 2.5 miles, turn left on Curtis Creek Road.  Coming from the east, take exit 75 from I-40 and turn left on Greenlee Road.  In a little over a mile from the interstate, cross US-70 and the road becomes Curtis Creek Road.  In about 2.5 miles, the road becomes gravel and in another mile becomes Forest Service Road 482; it's about 5 miles from US-70 to the campground.

Map:

The following map is incomplete as I haven't hiked all the trails here yet.

Hiking:

There are several miles of hiking trails in the Curtis Creek area, but the trails are challenging and can be difficult to follow.  Hickory Branch and Snooks Nose Trails start from near the campground.  These are the only ones I've hiked and I have not hiked either in their entirety.

Hickory Branch Trail (#213):

Length: 2 miles
Blaze: Orange
Difficulty: Moderate

Hickory Branch Trail follows its namesake creek upstream for about 2 miles from the campground.  The trailhead is on the left at the information kiosk.  Walk across the road and past the campsites to pick up the trail.  It heads steeply up a ridge and then down the other side to pick up Hickory Branch.  Cross the creek and follow it upstream.  In about a quarter-mile, cross the creek again and follow it upstream on the other side.  Just after hiking around a small drainage, a side path leads to the base of Hickory Branch Falls.  Staying on the trail, you'll be able to see the waterfall from above.  Just above the waterfall is couple of scenic cascades.  I haven't hiked any further on this trail.

Snooks Nose Trail:

Length: 4 miles
Blaze: Yellow
Difficulty: Moderate

Snooks Nose Trail leads from the campground up to its namesake peak and continues on to terminate at the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Although the Forest Service lists this trail as moderate in difficulty, I would consider it strenuous as it is one of the steepest trails I've hiked.  The trail starts along Curtis Creek Road across from the campground restrooms.  Following an old logging grade, the trail heads towards Slick Falls Branch and then steeply heads up via switchbacks.  The trail then heads away from the creek, passing a campsite, and then gets very steep as it heads up to Snooks Nose.  In just over 1.5 miles, the trail passes a rocky outcrop near the summit of Snooks Nose with nice views to the east and levels off a bit.  Past Snooks Nose, the trail heads up towards Laurel Knob, but it not nearly as steep as the first part of the trail.  There's no views from Laurel Knob and I didn't hike any further on this trail.

Waterfalls:

Hickory Branch Falls:

Hickory Branch Falls is a scenic 30-foot waterfall on its namesake creek.  The hike to the waterfall is about a mile or so round trip and moderate in difficulty.  Cross the road from the parking area and walk in between two campsites to the trailhead.  The trail heads up and then down a ridge and then crosses Hickory Branch.  Once across, turn left and follow the creek upstream.  There's another creek crossing and then the trail swings around a small tributary.  As the trail approaches Hickory Branch again, look for a side path that heads down to the creek and upstream to the base of the waterfall.  A tree had fallen right on it when I visited so I had to get to the other side of the creek for a picture.

Blog Entries:

21-Oct-2016: Fall Foliage 2016

External Links:

US Forest Service webpage for Curtis Creek: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=70826

Photos: