Wilson Creek

Wilson Creek is an area in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest in Caldwell, Burke, and Avery Counties.  The river itself is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River.  The area around Wilson Creek was used as summer hunting grounds by the Cherokee Native Americans and was settled by European pioneers in the mid 18th century.  Mortimer, once the largest community in the area, was the home of the Ritter Lumber Company sawmill and textile mill.  In 1916, a wildfire burned from Grandfather Mountain to Wilson Creek and was followed by a flood that destroyed the logging railroad.  A second fire burned through the area in 1925 and another flood hit in 1940, destroying the sawmill and textile mill, and ending efforts to bring industry to the area.  In 2000, Wilson Creek was made part of the National Wild and Scenic River System through Public Law 106-261.

Map:


Hiking:

There are many miles of hiking trails in the Wilson Creek area, leading to beautiful waterfalls and along tranquil streams.  And on a hot summer day, there's no shortage of great swim holes to cool off in.

Greentown Shortcut Trail (#268A)

Length: Unknown
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze: None
Trailhead GPS: 35.92802,-81.80005 (end of Forest Service Road 197)

The trailhead for Greentown Shortcut Trail is past the end of Forest Service Road 197.  I believe that this road used to go further, but part of it washed out, so the Forest Service built a big jeep mound to end the road further back.  To reach the trailhead, go north on NC-181 from Morganton for about 17 miles and turn right on Forest Service Road 982.  Alternately, if coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway, go south on NC-181 for about 11 miles and turn left on FSR982.  In about 1.5 miles, the road crosses Upper Creek on a one-lane bridge.  Right after the bridge, turn left on FSR 197 and drive to the end and park.  From here, hike the forest road about a half-mile or so to the trailhead.  The trail follows Upper Creek upstream, first along an overgrown logging road and then an overgrown footpath.  Along the way, there are several great swim holes and cascades along Upper Creek as shown in the picture below.  The trail becomes progressively more steep and narrow.  In about 2.5 miles, the trail crosses Burnthouse Branch and the waterfall will be just upstream on this tributary.  This is as far as I've hiked along the trail.  Past here, I believe the trail intersects with Mountains-to-Sea Trail/Greentown Trail (#268) in a short ways.

                A Cascade along Upper Creek just off Greentown Shortcut Trail

Harper Creek Trail (#260)

Length: 6.1 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze: None
West Trailhead GPS: 35.98851,-81.82485 (along Forest Service Road 58)

The eastern and main trailhead for Harper Creek Trail is along Brown Mountain Beach Road, about 1.7 miles north of the Wilson Creek Visitor Center.  There is a moderately-sized parking area here; however, due to the popularity of this trail, the parking can fill up quickly.  The trail ascends steeply to a ridgeline, then levels off.  In a short distance, Yellow Buck Trail (#265) turns to the right and in about a mile, Raider Camp Trail (#277) splits to the left.  The trail is following Harper Creek upstream by this point.  In about 1.5 miles, you'll pass Harper Creek Falls.  A spur trail splits to the left and leads to access to the falls.  Past the waterfall, the trail continues following Harper Creek with about a dozen or so creek crossings.  Depending on the water level, these might require wading.  Hiking in water shoes is recommended.  In about 3 miles, the trail will pass South Harper Creek Falls and a intersection with the other end of Raider Camp Trail (#277).  Shortly past here, the trail passes an opening with a nice view of the Kawana community.  In this area, the trail runs right along the boundary with private property so stay on the trail to avoid trespassing.  In about a mile from here, the trail ends at its western trailhead on Forest Service Road 58.

Hunt Fish Falls Trail (#263)

Length: 0.8 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze: None

Hunt Fish Falls starts along Forest Road 464, about 6 miles east of the turn from Mortimer Road and there is a decent-sized parking area at the trailhead.  The trail runs for a little under a mile heading down and ending at Lost Cove Trail (#262).  The hike down is pretty easy; the trail difficulty of Most Difficult refers to the return trip up the trail.

Lost Cove Trail (#262)

Length: 6.8 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze: None

Lost Cove Trail forms a big loop in the northern part of the area.  The trailhead is along Forest Road 981 (Rosemont Road).  Following the loop clockwise, the trail starts by following Gragg Prong downstream.  There are a number of great primitive camping spots at the trailhead as well as along the trail.

In about a half-mile from the trailhead, there's an easy creek crossing on Gragg Prong that you should be able to keep your feet dry unless the water level is extremely high.  In another half-mile are two more creek crossings, the first of which you'll likely have to get your feet wet and second you can likely stay dry.  If you continue on the faint trail at the first of these, you can bypass both stream crossings.  After the second stream crossing, you'll come to the top of Upper Waterfall on Gragg Prong and in another quarter-mile, the Lower Waterfall on Gragg Prong.  From here, the trail continues along a ridgeline above Gragg Prong for another half-mile or so and then another creek crossing over Gragg Prong.  After this creek crossing, the trail turns and begins to follow Lost Cove Creek upstream.  You'll pass an intersection with Timber Ridge Trail and then another wet creek crossing.  Around this area are a number of great primitive camping spots.  The trail is pretty flat for the next mile, where it reaches Hunt Fish Falls and the intersection with Hunt Fish Falls Trail (#263).

North Harper Creek Trail (#266)

Length: 4.5 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze: Blue

North Harper Creek Trail begins along Forest Road 58 about a quarter-mile from Forest Road 464.  The trail follows North Harper Creek downstream and there are three creek crossings in the first mile.  Along the way, there are several nice cascades along North Harper Creek that would almost qualify as waterfalls themselves.

From here, it passes the top of North Harper Creek Falls and switchbacks down to the bottom near the intersection with North Harper Creek Falls Trail (#239).  The trail continues following North Harper Creek, eventually ending at Harper Creek Trail (#260).

North Harper Shortcut Trail (#266A)

Length: 1.0 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze: None

North Harper Shortcut Trail begins along Forest Road 464, about three miles east of Forest Road 58 or a half-mile west of Hunt Fish Falls Trailhead.  The trail runs about a mile, mostly downhill and ends at North Harper Creek Trail (#266), about three-quarters of a mile west of Bard Falls.

Steels Creek Trail (#237)

Length: 3.8 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze: White Blaze while following MST
Trailhead GPS: 35.91264,-81.83909 (end of Forest Service Road 228)

The trailhead for Steels Creek Trail is at the end of Forest Service Road 228.  To reach the trailhead, go north on NC-181 from Morganton for about 17 miles and turn left on Forest Service Road 228.  Alternately, if coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway, go south on NC-181 for about 11 miles and turn right on FSR228.  Note that FSR228 is seasonally closed and gated during the winter.  There is a concrete ford along the road.  Most vehicles should have no trouble crossing the ford during normal weather, but the area is prone to flash floods, so avoid this road after heavy rains.  The forest road runs for about 4 miles, with some large primitive camping spots near the end.  The trail begins past the end of the road and leads to a crossing of Steels Creek in about a quarter-mile.  There is a nice cascade and swim hole here, including a rope swing (picture below).  The water doesn't seem that deep and safe for diving, so I've never tried the rope swing, but have seen other people swing and dive into the water.   Once across the creek, the trail joins the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and turns to the right.  The trail dips down to creek level, then heads up to a ridgeline through an area of dense stinging nettle.  Once up at the ridgeline, the trail passes Waterfall on Steels Creek and ultimately ends at FSR 496.  I've never hiked past the waterfall, though.

                         A Cascade on Steels Creek flows into a Swim Hole

Thorps Creek Trail (#279)

Length: 4.6 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze:
Trailhead GPS: 35.99523,-81.76079 (back of Mortimer campground)

Thorps Creek Trail is a hiking and horseback riding trail that begins at the back of the Mortimer campground.  The entrance to the campground is just west of the intersection of Brown Mountain Beach Road and NC-90 (Edgemont Road).  Drive through the campground to parking lot at the far end to the trailhead.

Timber Ridge Trail (#261)

Length: 2.2 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze: None

Timber Ridge Trail bisects the loop formed by Lost Cove Trail (#262).

Upper Creek Falls Trail (#268B)

Length: (loop)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Blaze: None

Upper Creek Falls Trail makes a loop to its namesake waterfall.  The trailhead is along NC-181, about 5.7 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Taking the loop clockwise, the trail descends to Upper Creek via switchbacks and crosses the creek just above Upper Creek Falls.

Across the creek, the trail descends further to the base of the waterfall and crosses the creek again, returning to the parking lot through a large number of switchbacks.

Waterfalls:

There are quite a few very nice waterfalls in the Wilson Creek area, most of which are pretty easy to visit.  Directions and descriptions are below.

Bard Falls:

Bard Falls is a 30-foot waterfall on North Harper Creek.  The waterfall is just off North Harper Creek Trail (#266), but the easiest way to visit it is to hike down the North Harper Shortcut Trail (#266A).  The trailhead for the shortcut is along Forest Road 464, about three miles east of the turn for Forest Road 58, or about a half-mile west of the Hunt Fish Falls trailhead.  Follow this trail about a mile to North Harper Creek Trail and turn left, following the creek downstream.  In about a quarter-mile, there is a stream crossing where you'll likely have to get your feet wet and then another half-mile to Bard Falls.  There are a lot of rocks at the base to climb out on and some cool "pot holes" in the rocks surrounding the falls.

Beverly Hillbilly Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 35.91264,-81.83909 (end of Forest Service Road 228)
Waterfall GPS: 35.92353,-81.84744

Beverly Hillbilly Falls is a sliding waterfall on Steels Creek.  It's about 2.5 miles round trip to see the waterfall and challenging.  To visit the falls, get on NC-181.  From the Blue Ridge Parkway near Jonas Ridge, take NC-181 south for about 11 miles and turn right on Forest Service Road 228.  Coming from Morganton, take NC-181 north for about 17 miles and turn left on FSR 228.  Follow the forest road for about 4 miles to the end.  There is a ford along the way, but most vehicles should have no trouble crossing the creek, unless there is high water.  There are several primitive camping sites towards the end of the road and a parking area before the end.  From the parking area, continue hiking up the road for about a quarter-mile to a swim hole and creek crossing over Steels Creek.  Once across the creek, the trail joins the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and continues heading upsteam along Steels Creek.  There is a lot of poison ivy and stinging nettle in this area, so use caution while hiking.  In about a mile from the crossing, the MST will go past a campsite right before heading up a ridge on switchbacks.  From the campsite, bushwhack through the woods to Steels Creek and then follow the creek upstream.  There's no trail so the easiest way is to creek walk.  It's less than a quarter-mile of creek walking to the base of Beverly Hillbilly Falls.  There are lots of large boulders at the base, so you'll need to climb up them to get a good view of the falls.

Burnthouse Branch Waterfall:

Trailhead GPS: 35.92802,-81.80005 (end of Forest Service Road 197)
Waterfall GPS: 35.95110,-81.82245

Waterfall on Burnthouse Branch is a 25-foot waterfall on a tributary of Upper Creek.  It's a challenging 5-mile round-trip hike to see the waterfall.  To visit, get on NC-181.  From the Blue Ridge Parkway near Jonas Ridge, take NC-181 south for about 11 miles and turn left on Forest Service Road 982.  Coming from Morganton, take NC-181 north for about 17 miles and turn right on FSR 982.  Follow the forest road for about 1.5 miles to a one-lane bridge over Upper Creek.  Right across the bridge, turn left on Forest Service Road 197 and follow to the end and park.  Go over the jeep mound and continue following the forest road on foot.  The road/trail will become Greentown Shortcut Trail (#268A) and continues to follow Upper Creek upstream.  The trail becomes progressively more narrow and steep.  In about two miles from the trailhead, the trail steeply leads up and then down a ridge via switchbacks and crosses Burnthouse Branch.  From here, follow the tributary upstream a short ways to the waterfall.  You can either rock-hop or wade up the tributary from this point, or continue on the trail to a clearing and bushwhack through a mess of downed trees to the tributary.  The waterfall consists of two steams flowing down a cliff face with many moss-covered boulders around the base.  At some places, the water appears to be seeping out of the moss.  This is a pretty remote and unknown waterfall, so you are very likely to have it to yourself.

Chestnut Cove Branch Falls:

Chestnut Cove Branch Falls is located off the North Harper Creek Falls Trail (239).  From the eastern trailhead off Forest Road 464, follow the trail 1 to 1.5 miles and there will be a steep trail to the left leading down to the top of the waterfall.  From here, you can go out to the rocks at the top of the waterfall and climb down to the base, where Chestnut Cove Branch flows into North Harper Creek.  The waterfall is primarily on the right side of the rock (looking down from the top).

Chestnut Cove Branch Falls

Gragg Prong Upper Waterfall:

Upper Waterfall on Gragg Prong is a nice waterfall with some great swimming holes.  It's not a huge waterfall, but the large area of exposed bedrock and swimming holes make it very popular, especially on warm weekends in the summer.  There are two ways to visit the falls:

From the Blue Ridge Parkway, take Rosoboro Road (becomes Forest Road 981) for about 4 miles into the Wilson Creek area.  There is a decent-sized parking area right after you cross the bridge over Gragg Prong.  This is the trailhead for Lost Cove Trail (#262).  Follow this trail heading downstream past several nice primitive camping sites.  In about a half-mile, there is a stream crossing over Gragg Prong.  Then in another half-mile, there are two more, though you can take a faint path to bypass these stream crossings.  Shortly after the third stream crossing, you'll come out at the exposed bedrock at the top of the falls.

Alternately, from Forest Road 464 (Pineola Road), drive to the trailhead for Hunt Fish Falls Trail (detailed directions described for Hunt Fish Falls below).  Follow Hunt Fish Falls Trail (#263) down to Lost Cove Trail (#262) and turn right.  Pass Hunt Fish Falls and in about a mile, you'll have to cross Lost Cove Creek.  Continue on the trail, passing Timber Ridge Trail, and eventually reach Gragg Prong.  There is a creek crossing over Gragg Prong and then follow the trail upstream for about a mile to the exposed bedrock at the top of the falls.  This route is longer, but good if you want to include Hunt Fish Falls.

The waterfall consists of several small drops and a slide at the bottom into a huge pool.  The pool at the base, as well as the pools above and below the drops are great swimming holes.  Just be warned, the water is always cold.  The lower slide part is also good for water-sliding if you have a float.  The video below shows some friends and I sliding down this part in an inflatable turtle.

Gragg Prong Lower Waterfall:

Lower Waterfall on Gragg Prong is a tall, steep slide over bedrock, about a quarter-mile downstream of the Upper Waterfall.  There are two ways to visit; see the Upper Waterfall on Gragg Prong description above for directions.  The exposed bedrock above the falls is accessed directly off Lost Cove Trail (#262).  Because its a sliding waterfall and not a freefall, the view from up here is pretty decent (first picture below).  A good thing, because its very difficult to get down to the base.  There are a couple of options.  From the top, you could try to climb down to the base, but this is extremely dangerous.  There is a rope for support for part of the way down, but you'll have a lot of trouble trying to get back up.  If you continue on the trail, it's possible, though quite difficult, to bushwhack down to the base.  If you go down from the top, you'll likely have to bushwhack back up.  The safest way is to continue on the trail past the top and go down to the creek further down and then wade or rock-hop up the creek to the base.  The second picture below is from the base.



Harper Creek Falls:

Harper Creek Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the area, consisting of two big drops with great swimming holes below both drops.  To visit the falls, go north from the Wilson Creek Visitor Center about 1.5 miles to the parking area on the left.  Follow Harper Creek Trail (#260) for about 1.5 miles to the waterfall.  Right before the waterfall, the main trail bears to the right and a spur trail leading to the falls bears to the left.  A steep scramble, the last part having a rope to assist, leads to the base with a huge pool.  The first picture below shows the view from the base.  If you continue on the spur trail just a short ways, you can climb down to the middle of the falls.  The rock is very steep, but a thick rope tied to a tree is available to help.  Do not try to go down if the rocks are wet.  The slope on the right of the first picture below is what you have to descend.  The second picture below is a view of the upper section of the falls from the rocks in the middle area.



Hunt Fish Falls

Hunt Fish Falls is a waterfall on Lost Cove Creek, consisting of two drops of about ten feet.  Although not the biggest or most impressive waterfall in the area, it has one of the best swimming holes and so is very popular.  To visit the falls, head into the Wilson Creek area from the west on Forest Road 464 (Pineola Road).  The trailhead is about 3.5 miles east of the turn for Forest Road 58.  Alternately, from NC-90 (Edgemont Road), turn onto FR-464 and go about 3 miles to the trailhead.  There is a decent-sized parking area here.  From the parking area, hike all the way down Hunt Fish Falls Trail (#263) to Lost Cove Trail (#262).  Turn right and you will come out at the large expanse of exposed bedrock at the waterfall.  There are several very nice primitive camping spots in the vicinity of the falls.  Swimming is very popular in the pool at the base of the falls; however, there are no life guards so swim at your own risk.

Little Lost Cove Creek - Upper Waterfall

Upper Waterfall on Little Lost Cove Creek is a nice waterfall on its namesake creek, though a bit difficult to find.  Entering the Wilson Creek area from the west on Forest Road 464, drive about 4 miles to the junction with Forest Road 464A.  This is a 4WD road, so drive down at your own risk.  I just parked at the top and hiked about three-quarters of a mile to the end of the road at a campsite.  The trail continues over some jeep mounds and follows the ridgeline above Little Lost Cove Creek.  In about a half-mile, there is a side trail that leads down to the creek.  The side trail is not obvious at all.  When I visited, I talked to someone hiking back who had put some rocks and sticks in the shape of an arrow at the turn.  I wouldn't count on those staying for long though.  From the turn, you basically have to bushwhack straight down through dense rhododendron to the creek, though there was some flagging tape to indicate you're going in the right direction.  Near the bottom, you will be able to see the Upper Waterfall while the trail goes to the left.  Just continue down to the creek at the base of the waterfall.

Little Lost Cove Creek - Lower Waterfall

Lower Waterfall on Little Lost Cove Creek is just downstream of the Upper Waterfall.  Follow the directions above.  When the trail turns left, follow it to the top of the Lower Waterfall and continue down to the base.  This is a really nice 50-foot waterfall.  The lighting was poor when I visited so I couldn't get any great pictures, but I guess that means I'll just have to return.

North Harper Creek Falls:

North Harper Creek is a nearly 200-foot sliding waterfall on its namesake creek, although its not possible to see the entire thing from one point.  The picture below is from the base of the falls, but you can also get to the middle of the falls to see the upper section and you can go out on the rocks at the top of the falls, but you can't see much from up here.  There are two ways to get to the waterfall:

From Forest Road 464, turn on Forest Road 58 and park on the side after about a quarter mile at the trailhead for North Harper Creek Trail (#266).  Follow the trail for about a mile to the top of the waterfall.  There are three creek crossings along the way, although it should be possible to rock hop unless the water level is really high.  There are also several pretty cascades and small waterfalls on the creek along this section of trail.  At the top of the waterfall, cross and follow the trail as it switchbacks to the base.

For the other way, continue on Forest Road 464 about 2 miles to the second roadside trailhead.  This is the trailhead for both Little Lost Cove Cliffs Trail (#271A) and North Harper Creek Falls Trail (#239).  Follow North Harper Creek Falls.  It's about a mile and a quarter along this trail and only one creek crossing just before the waterfall.

South Harper Creek Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 35.98851,-81.82485 (along Forest Service Road 58)
Waterfall GPS: 35.98062,-81.81048

South Harper Creek Falls is a waterfall on Harper Creek, about three miles upstream from Harper Creek Falls.  There are a couple ways to visit the falls.  Following the Harper Creek Trail (#260) from the eastern trailhead on Brown Mountain Beach Road, South Harper Creek Falls is about 3 miles past Harper Creek Falls.  There are a lot of stream crossings in the section between the two, so it's a good idea to hike in water shoes.  The easier way to visit the falls is to hike from the western trailhead of Harper Creek Trail on Forest Service Road 58.  This hike is about 4 miles round-trip, depending on whether you view the falls from the base and/or the overlook.  To get to trailhead, enter the Wilson Creek area from the west on Forest Service Road 464, go about 2.5 miles, and turn right on FSR 58.  Go about 4 miles and there is a parking area on the right.  The western trailhead for Harper Creek Trail is right across the road.  In a little over a mile, you'll reach an intersection - go left to follow the creek downstream past the top of the waterfall.  There's no trail to the base, but you can scramble down to a nice spot to view the lower portion of the waterfall from here and there are some nice swim holes as well.  For the best views, you'll have to climb, wade, and scramble around the rocks at the base.

There is also a cliff view where you can see the entire waterfall.  Where the trail splits, go right to follow the creek upstream to a crossing.  Cross the creek and follow Raider Camp Trail (#277) up the mountain through some switchbacks.  In about a half a mile, turn right onto a spur trail that leads out to the overlook.  From here, you can see the upper and lower sections of the waterfall.

Steels Creek Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 35.91264,-81.83909 (end of Forest Service Road 228)
Waterfall GPS: 35.91898,-81.84737

Steels Creek Falls is a very interesting waterfall consisting of short drops over a rock face with many potholes, making it one of the more unique waterfalls in the area.  It's less than a 2-mile round-trip hike to see the falls, but fairly difficult as you have to traverse an area with dense stinging nettle and poison ivy and there's a trick climb out onto rocks to get a good view.  To visit the falls, get on NC-181.  From the Blue Ridge Parkway near Jonas Ridge, take NC-181 south for about 11 miles and turn right on Forest Service Road 228.  Coming from Morganton, take NC-181 north for about 17 miles and turn left on FSR 228.  Follow the forest road for about 4 miles to the end.  There is a ford along the way, but most vehicles should have no trouble crossing the creek, unless there is high water.  There are several primitive camping sites towards the end of the road and a parking area before the end.  From the parking area, continue hiking up the road for about a quarter-mile to a swim hole and creek crossing over Steels Creek.  Once across the creek, the trail joins the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and continues heading upsteam along Steels Creek.  There is a lot of poison ivy and stinging nettle in this area, so use caution while hiking.  In about a half-mile, there will be a steep path to scramble down to a rock for a view of the upper section of the waterfall.  Getting out onto the rock for a good view can be tricky, but when I visited, there was a rope for assistance.  There is also a lower section of the waterfall, but I have yet to get here.

Teacups Falls:

Trailhead GPS: 35.91264,-81.83909 (end of Forest Service Road 228)
Waterfall GPS: 

Teacups is a sliding waterfall and cascades on Steels Creek.  The hike to the falls is about 3 miles round trip and moderately difficult.  To visit the falls, get on NC-181.  From the Blue Ridge Parkway near Jonas Ridge, take NC-181 south for about 11 miles and turn right on Forest Service Road 228.  Coming from Morganton, take NC-181 north for about 17 miles and turn left on FSR 228.  Follow the forest road for about 4 miles to the end.  There is a ford along the way, but most vehicles should have no trouble crossing the creek, unless there is high water.  There are several primitive camping sites towards the end of the road and a parking area before the end.  From the parking area, continue hiking up the road for about a quarter-mile to a swim hole and creek crossing over Steels Creek.  Once across the creek, the trail joins the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and continues heading upsteam along Steels Creek.  There is a lot of poison ivy and stinging nettle in this area, so use caution while hiking.  In about a mile from the crossing, the MST will go past a campsite right before heading up a ridge on switchbacks.  Near the top, you can see Beverly Hillbilly Falls through the trees, but there's no way down.  Continue a short ways and you should be able to hear Teacups Falls just past Beverly Hillbilly Falls.  There are two paths that lead down to Teacups Falls.  The first leads to the base of the sliding section.


The second leads to the upper cascades and potholes section.

Thorps Creek Waterfall:

Trailhead GPS: 35.91264,-81.83909 (end of Forest Service Road 228)
Waterfall GPS: 35.99733,-81.75896

Waterfall on Thorps Creek is a 15-foot waterfall on its namesake creek.  It's less than a quarter-mile from the trailhead, so this is one of the easiest waterfalls to visit in the Wilson Creek area.  To visit the waterfall, head north on NC-181 from Morganton for about 12 miles.  Turn right on Brown Mountain Beach Road and go four miles, then turn left to continue on Brown Mountain Beach Road.  Follow this road for about 8.5 miles to the intersection with NC-90 (Edgemont Road).  Turn left and then an immediate right into Mortimer Campground.  Drive to the back of the campground and park at the trailhead for Thorps Creek Trail (#279).  Follow this trail for less than a quarter-mile to the waterfall.  It's a small waterfall, about 15 feet high, but very scenic.  There are three distinct flows at the top, followed by a slide split into three streams.

Upper Creek Falls:

Upper Creek Falls is a beautiful 50-foot waterfall on its namesake creek.  Although it's in the Wilson Creek area, it's a bit separated from the rest of the area.  The trailhead is located off NC-181, just under 6 miles south from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  A Forest Service parking area is located here.  Follow the signs for the Upper Falls and take Upper Creek Falls Trail (#268B) as it heads down to the creek via switchbacks.  The trail comes out at the top of the waterfall.  Cross the creek above the waterfall and continue on the trail as it leads down to the base of the falls.  There are several unofficial paths off the main trail to view the waterfall from different points.

Blog Entries:

30Aug-01Sep2014: Labor Day Waterfall Weekend

12Jul2014: Steels Creek & Burnthouse Branch Waterfalls

05-06Jul2014: Independence Weekend Trip to Gragg Prong

23-26May2014: Memorial Day Waterfall Weekend

External Links:

Friends of Wilson Creek website: http://www.friendsofwilsoncreek.org/

US Forest Service website for Wilson Creek: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=49016

Photos:

Wilson Creek