Little Table Rock

posted Jun 15, 2018, 3:39 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 15, 2018, 3:39 PM ]

Sunday morning, we broke camp and left Linville Falls.  We got on NC-181 south towards Morganton for a few miles and turned onto FR-496, following the gravel road for about a mile to where it crossed over Steels Creek and parked.  Just upstream from the road is Upper Steels Creek Falls.  I scrambled up to the base of the waterfall, but there was a lot of downfall all over the base.  While Upper Steels Creek is just above the road, Newt Falls is just below.  However, it was a lot harder to reach.  We hiked back on the road a short ways to an old trailhead for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.  The trail has since been rerouted, but we followed the old trail to where it crossed Steels Creek at the top of Newt Falls. Getting down would be really difficult, so Sandy stayed with Alex up on the trail, while I made the difficult bushwhack down.  I came to a spot where I could into the creek at the base of the upper section of this waterfall.  I wasn't expecting much, but this upper section was really scenic and worth the challenging climb down.  There was more waterfall below, but no easy way to get further down.  With Sandy and Alex waiting, I just headed back up.  Then we went back to NC-181 and backtracked to Gingercake Road and headed up towards Table Rock in Linville Gorge.  Parking at the trailhead for Spence Ridge Trail and started out following it gradually downhill.  In under a mile, we went left on Little Table Rock Trail and continued heading down.  It would be a lot of uphill to get to Table Rock now.  After crossing a tributary, the trail started heading up and very steeply.  The heat and humidity made the climb up very strenuous.  We took a couple breaks and finally made it.  Just before the end a short spur led to Little Table Rock with nice views of Linville Gorge.  We also had a nice view of Table Rock towering above.  At the Mountains to Sea Trail, we turned right, passing the picnic area and heading out to the Chimneys.  We found a nice shady spot to eat lunch and enjoy the views.  Heading back, we passed in going up to Table Rock as it was so hot and Alex was struggling with the heat and it would be almost all downhill from here.  We followed the MST from Table Rock down to FR-210 and turned left to follow the road a short ways to our car to finish out the weekend.  We stopped at Cook Out on the way home so Alex could get a hot dog for dinner.

Beech Mountain Waterfalls

posted Jun 12, 2018, 4:54 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 17, 2018, 4:53 PM ]

Saturday, we took Alex out to the mountains for a weekend of hiking and camping.  It was going to be hot, so we wanted to go as high as possible.  We left around 630 and arrived around 10 at Beech Mountain, the highest incorporated town in the eastern US.  Our first stop was at the Buckeye Recreation Center.  I went inside to purchase a trail map as Beech Mountain is very confusing to get around.  Then we started down the Falls Trail.  This trail led down from the playground descending via switchbacks to Buckeye Creek at the confluence with Grassy Gap Creek.

Buckeye Creek Falls was just upstream of the confluence.  We stopped for a few minutes at this surprisingly nice waterfall, though the sun was shining right on it.

A bridge led over the creek and underneath blooming mountain laurel.  The trail followed the creek upstream past some nice cascades.

Soon the trail reached just below the dam at Buckeye Lake.  From here, the trail followed along a fence to the lower parking lot to finish up the loop.  We continued on Pine Ridge Road a short ways and picked up Grassy Gap Trail following its namesake upstream.  Although we were always close to homes, the trail definitely had a wilderness feel and it was easy to forget this was a city trail.  The trail crossed a couple gravel roads and then turned right to follow one, eventually running into Fox Run Trail.

The two trails ran together for a while and then split.  We went right to stay on Red Fox Trail that leads out to Pinnacle Ridge Road.  Just across the main road, we picked up Smoketree Trail that was another gravel road, heading down at first.  Heading back up, there were a couple switchbacks and then we went right to stay on Smoketree Trail.  Eventually, the trail came to a crossing of Buckeye Creek far upstream of the lake and waterfall.  There was a small waterfall here - Upper Buckeye Creek Falls.

It wasn't big or impressive, but there was a picnic table here and it made a nice spot for a break.

We then made the hike back to the car.  It started raining on the way, but nothing heavy.  Our next stop was at Lake Coffey and having the map helped navigating around Beech Mountain.  At the far end of the lake, a small waterfall drained into Pond Creek.  Here we got on Lower Pond Creek Trail and followed its namesake downstream.  Right after the first crossing was a nice drop into a big pool.  It was strange to see a house right behind it.  With high water, Pond Creek was really impressive.  It was almost non-stop cascades and small drops in the creek and it was really rushing.  The trail was very steep and rocky with a rope to navigate one steep section.  We came to a spot where I initially thought one big cascading slide was the waterfall, but continued on a bit.  When we got to She Falls Falls, there was no doubt that this was the waterfall.  It was really beautiful.  The waterfall was named after a woman fell and had to be rescued.  I'm surprised she survived!  After some pictures, we made our way back.  Some folks at the trailhead asked how Alex did with the rope section and were impressed he had no trouble.  Before leaving Beech Mountain, we made one more stop at the overlook.  It was a nice view but power lines and buildings kind of spoil it.  The half-mile Overlook Trail led down to Perry Park where there was another small waterfall.  Just above it were some nice cascades.  Unfortunately, the waterfall itself was kind of ruined by the culvert pipes above.  Heading down from Beech Mountain, we drove to Newland and made a stop at Bobby McLean Memorial Park, also called Waterfalls Park.  The small roadside park features a really nice waterfall in three sections.  The lowest is easily visible from the road.  A short trail leads to the upper sections.  The middle section had a nice view of the upper section as well.  Overall, really nice for a roadside waterfall and I'm surprised I hadn't stopped before.  We were getting really hungry at this point so had dinner at Carolina BBQ just up the road.  They had outdoor seating so we could dine with Alex and even had beer.  There barbecue and sides were really good - definitely have to remember this place.  After dinner we headed to Linville Falls and set up camp at site B51.  Then we headed to the falls for an evening hike.  First we stopped at Duggers Creek Falls.  Last time I was here, the water level was really low so wanted to stop for a better picture.  Then we headed on the main trail to the Upper Falls Overlook.  This overlook had been closed but recently reopened.  Then we stopped at the Chimneys Overlook for a view of the main Linville Falls.  It was starting to get late so we headed back and made it back to camp just as the sun set.  Someone had left some firewood at our campsite so we built a fire and then went to bed.

Stone Mountain Trails

posted Jun 3, 2018, 1:30 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 16, 2018, 4:05 PM ]

Saturday, we took Alex to Stone Mountain State Park for National Trails Day.  It was really going to be hot in Raleigh, so thought the mountains would provide some relief.  We left around 7 and arrived at the park around 930, stopping at the visitor center to get a stamp for Alex's passport.

Then we drove to picnic area and started our hike from here, taking the connector trail down to pick up Stone Mountain Loop Trail.  At the old chimney, we went right to head up to the summit of Stone Mountain.  There are a couple open areas along the way with nice views from the exposed rock.

The second one has a nice side view of the Stone Mountain dome.  After this, a couple switchbacks led up to the summit.  It wasn't too bad but the humidity made it real muggy.  But there was a nice breeze at the summit.

I went out on the rocks to get some pictures of the gorgeous views from up here.

We took a break up here and gave Alex a chance to cool off.  There were a few people already here when we arrived but it was progressively getting more crowded.  So we started making our way down the other side.

We passed many groups heading up and I thought it was good that we arrived when we did.  A few spots on the way down had nice views from a section of exposed rock - Cedar Rock was visible across the way.  The trail continued down to the Lower Parking Area where we got on Wolf Rock Trail.  It was a little steep at first but eventually leveled off.  I saw some sulphur shelf mushrooms growing along the trail.

We took the short spur out to Wolf Rock and had lunch out here enjoying the views.  Unlike Stone Mountain, no one else was here.

Continuing on we finished Wolf Rock Trail and turned right on Cedar Rock Trail and went out on the rocks for a great view of Stone Mountain.

There were a couple other spots further along the trail with great views of the mountain.

The people at the top of Stone Mountain were just barely visible.  At the bottom, Sandy waited with Alex to take a little break in the shade while I headed over to the Hutchinson Homestead to get a couple pictures.

Then we continued on Stone Mountain Loop Trail following a tributary downstream.  For practice, we skipped the bridges and rock-hopped at the tributary crossings, allowing Alex to get his feet wet and stop for a drink.  As the trail approached Big Sandy Creek, we turned right on Middle Falls/Lower Falls Trail to head towards the waterfalls.  In a half-mile, a short spur to the right led to Middle Falls.

The water level was up and it was difficult to get to the base of for a picture.  I had to squeeze through a narrow opening in the rock, which probably wasn't worth it - the sun was shining right on the waterfall.  There was a nice upper drop that was in the shade and I didn't have to squeeze through a hole to see it.

Back at the main trail, we immediately rock-hopped Big Sandy Creek then headed up and back down a ridge to another creek crossing.  The horse trail started on the other side and it was a short ways further to Lower Falls.

The lighting was poor again and there were some families with kids splashing around.  I didn't want to get my feet wet yet, so we headed back and stopped to see some small drops along the creek.

Our next stop was Stone Mountain Falls.

It was really crowded here and Alex was getting tired so we didn't spend long.  He was not pleased with having to climb all the steps to get back up but after that, it was just a half-mile back to the car.  Before leaving the park, we made one more stop at Widow's Creek Falls.

This one was the most crowded of all with lots of people swimming and sliding down the falls.  We wore water shoes and splashed around in the water a little bit to cool off.  Alex got his paws wet but didn't seem interested in the water so we didn't stay long.

Kings Mountain Trail

posted May 28, 2018, 4:27 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 13, 2018, 4:35 PM ]

By the time we woke up Sunday morning, the rain had stopped.  It was overcast, but we didn't get any more rain.  After breakfast, we packed up camp and once finished, set off on the Kings Mountain Trail, a National Recreation Trail.  This trail makes a big loop, passing through Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military ParkAt the end of the road through the primitive group campsites, we turned left to hike the loop in the counterclockwise direction.  In less than half a mile, the Ridgeline Trail that connects to Crowders Mountain State Park in NC split to the right.  We saw a luna moth on the ground just off the trail.

Right after this, we crossed into the national park.  In about two miles, we passed a spur that led to the military park where the Military through the Ages had been going on.  We didn't hear any gunshots though.  There were some really pretty Nuttall's sensitive brier blooming along the trail.

Further on, the trail crossed Park Road and led through an area which had recently had a prescribed burn - the ground was scorched and a faint smell of wood smoke lingered in the air.  In about 4 miles from the start, a spur trail leading to the summit of Brown Mountain split off.  We had such a long hike ahead of us, we decided to pass on this.  Continuing on the trail passed Garner Branch backcountry campsite and soon returned to Kings Mountain State Park.  The path was more overgrown through this section.  When we reached another backcountry campsite, we stopped for lunch, but didn't rest for too long as we still had another 8 miles or so to go.  We saw a good size black snake along the trail at one point.

With the high water, a couple of the tributaries were swollen and difficult to cross.  After the most difficult crossing, we saw a little box turtle scurry off the trail to the safety of the dense vegetation.

There were a few more tributary crossings and then we crossed Long Branch, but it was not too hard getting across.

Near here, a little spider was perched on a flower, watching us pass on the trail.

Up from here, the trail reached Apple Road at the intersection with the bridle trail.  We were tired at this point and just walked the road back to camp to finish up our hike.  There was some horsenettle flowering along the road.

Back at camp, Carol had gotten some cold beer and it was quite delicious after a long hike.  On the way out of the park, we made a quick stop at the Living History Farm.

There were a number of historic old farm buildings here.

The cotton gin was quite impressive.

A chicken coop had two chickens and a noisy rooster, but we didn't have any change to get them some food.

At the far end were the horses and a donkey.  They were very friendly and came over to the fence to say hi.

The donkey seemed particularly itchy and started rolling in the grass.

After some pictures, we headed back.  Despite the forecast, we managed to beat the rain all day, though it did rain some on the drive home.  We ate at El Patron in Salisbury and then finished the drive back to Chapel Hill.

Flooded Lilies

posted May 28, 2018, 3:49 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 8, 2018, 3:49 PM ]

Saturday, I met up with Justine for some hiking and camping in South Carolina over the Memorial Day Weekend.  We left Chapel Hill a little after 8 and took I-85 to Charlotte and then south on I-77.  In South Carolina, we took US-21 south to Landsford Canal State Park.  The Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies should have been in peak bloom this weekend.  However, heavy rains in the NC mountains had caused flooding on Catawba River and the water level was really high.

Arriving at about 11, we had lunch and then started our hike.

At the guard lock, we went left at the split for Nature Trail, which follows the river closely.  Although many of the spider lilies were underwater, a number of spiderwort were blooming along the trail, safely above the water.

At one point, we spotted a large worm that I initially thought was a snake.

A ranger helped later identify it as a shovel-headed garden worm.  It had rained earlier but was mostly dry for our hike.

In a short ways, we came to the Spider Lily Overlook.  Although the water level was way up, a number of lilies were above water.

It wasn't really what we were hoping for, but at least we got to see some of the lilies.

Other flowers were blooming on dry land.

Near the overlook, we saw more spiderwort and other flowers blooming.

Continuing on Canal Trail, we passed one of several culverts used to divert water from tributaries to the river.

Further on was the ruins of the mill complex where the trail ran between stone retaining walls to protect the mill.

At the far end, we came to the Upper Locks.

The stonework was really beautiful and this was a fun area to climb around.  A stone bridge led over the locks at the far end.

It was really interesting seeing how much the locks went up.  After some pictures, we began making our way back.

After passing the mill complex again, there was another culvert here.

At the split, we headed back on Canal Trail.  At the end, we stopped to see the guard lock.

The trails rejoined back at the river.

We stopped at the ranger station to inquire about the worm and then concluded our hike.  From here, we headed to our home for the weekend at Kings Mountain State Park.  There was quite a storm on the drive over, but it had cleared up by the time we arrived.  A group of scouts had taken our spot so we called the park office and moved to primitive group site 6.  The scouts mentioned a reenactment at Kings Mountain National Military Park, so we made the short drive over there.  The reenactments were over, but the Military through the Ages exhibits were still up so we could walk around and talk to the people.

Military setups from different wars were on display.

We saw some of the rifles and small arms used in World War II.

They also had parachutes from the war, including one packed in 1943.  One "soldier" let me get a picture holding an M1 Garand rifle, but I had to put on my best "war face".

These early semi-automatic rifles gave American troops an advantage over the enemy using bolt-action rifles.  Food rations, a precursor to today's MREs, showed each meal, breakfast, dinner, and summer, came with four cigarettes, but only supper came with toilet paper.

A doctor from the 18th century displayed many of the herbal remedies and crude medical devices and herbal medicines used at the time.

He had a working blade machine used for blood-letting, a cure-all remedy from the era.  Another exhibit had a portable belt-fed machine gun that was transported and operated by five men.

After exploring the exhibits, we stopped by the visitor center and then made our way back to camp.  It was dry throughout the evening and we were able to make a campfire.  Looking at the forecast, it was likely to rain heavily Sunday evening and throughout the day Monday, so we decided to head back Sunday night.  After dinner and hanging out around the campfire, we retired to our tents.  Almost immediately after getting in, it started to rain heavily - great timing.  The rain died down over the evening and stopped by morning.

Morrow Mountain Peaks

posted May 20, 2018, 1:56 PM by Justin P   [ updated May 20, 2018, 4:53 PM ]

Saturday, Sandy had the day off so we took Alex to Morrow Mountain State Park for a couple hikes.  It rained quite a bit on the way down, but died down when we crossed the bridge into Stanly County.  We first parked at the visitor center to get a stamp for Alex's passport.

From here, we followed the Morrow Mountain Trail south towards the park's namesake.  It wasn't particularly hot, but very humid and steamy.  In about 2 miles, the trail got real steep as we headed up Morrow Mountain and approached the road.  This trail then ended and we went right on Mountain Loop Trail.  Soon we made it to the overlook at the summit.

We stopped for a bit as there was a nice breeze up here.  Then we continued on the loop trail around the summit of the mountain.  Some open spots along the trail made for great views of the surrounding countryside.

After finishing the loop, we followed Morrow Mountain Trail back down the mountain and returned to the parking area.  Continuing through the park, we stopped at the boathouse parking for another hike.  At the far end of the parking lot, we picked up Fall Mountain Trail.  The trail starts out along following the shoreline of Yadkin River just upstream of the confluence with Uwharrie River.

Views of the river were very pretty and some mountain laurel were blooming.  After following the river for a while, it crosses a tributary and begins following it upstream and away from the river.  There were some spiderwort blooming along the trail here.

The trail got steeper and eventually a series of switchbacks led up to the summit of Fall Mountain.  Unlike Morrow, it was completely forested and there were no views with the foliage out.  Alex was getting hot so we took a break up here and then headed back down the mountain. Leaving the park, we wanted to make one more stop on the way home so headed to Badin Lake Recreation Area in Uwharrie National Forest, just across the river.  We followed FR-576 for about 7 miles to where it crossed a small tributary.  Parking just after crossing, we followed a path down to a campsite and then to a nice overlook of Yadkin River between the dams.

The tributary we had crossed makes a small waterfall in two sections here and we scrambled down to a spot at the top of the lower main section.

It was good to come here after the recent rains as this tributary is very small.  The upper section is a rocky 10 foot drop.

The lower section is maybe 20 feet but I'm not sure how to view it well except by boat.  I climbed as far down as I could to get a view from the side but couldn't get any further down.

After some pictures, we headed back and made the drive home.  We stopped at Cook Out for dinner and Alex got a hot dog.

Johnston Mill & Brumley Forest

posted May 5, 2018, 3:03 PM by Justin P   [ updated May 6, 2018, 3:48 PM ]

Saturday, Sandy and I took Alex to Orange County for a couple hikes on Triangle Land Conservancy preserves.  We first went to Johnston Mill Nature Preserve and parked at the main entrance on Mt. Sinai Road.  Surprisingly, there were quite a few cars here and the small parking area was almost full.  After getting our stuff together, we set out on the red-blazed Robin's Trail.  The trail followed New Hope Creek downstream and there were some nice rocky sections.

There were even some small cascades along the creek.

Where the trail crosses Old Field Creek on a bridge, there was a very interesting tree here.

We continued on Robin's Trail following the creek to the other parking area and then turned back.  Going left on Beech Loop, we then got on Old Field Bluff Trail.  As the name suggests, the trail runs along high bluffs over Old Field Creek.

At the end, we turned back on Robin's Trail to head back towards the car.  On the way back, I spotted some beautiful dwarf crested irises.

Then we finished the hike up back at the car.  It was still pretty early so we continued a little further to the north entrance of Brumley Nature Preserve, parking the old NC-10 parking area.  From here, we hiked the red-blazed Stony Creek Bluff Trail.  Near the start was an old cemetery.

It didn't look maintained and was very overgrown.  The trail soon led to bluffs high above Stony Creek.

At the end, we got on the green-blazed Dairy Farm Trail to make a loop.  The trail passed by a couple of old farm ponds.

At one spot, I spotted some beautiful orange flowers, I think they are poppies.

It was getting a little hot for Alex, so we finished up the loop and then headed back.  For Cinco de Mayo, we went to Leesville Tap Room for fajitas lunch and ate outside so Alex could join us.  He got a little fajita chicken and chips with queso to celebrate.

Milton Bradley Falls

posted May 2, 2018, 1:25 PM by Justin P   [ updated May 31, 2018, 4:43 PM ]

Sunday, we woke up and broke camp.  Heading east on US64 to Hendersonville, we took I26 to Saluda and drove down Green River Cove Road, the steepest and curviest paved road I've driven.  Eventually, the switchbacks end and the road straightens as it follows Green River downstream.  Just before a bridge over the river, we turned right on a short gravel road to a parking area for Green River Game Lands.  From here, we began hiking down the gated road past some fields.  There were some fleabane blooming along the road.

In about a mile, the road curved left at an old barn and led to a ford of Cove Creek.  Across the creek, the road led through open fields and became difficult to follow.  There were a lot of really beautiful red clovers blooming here.

Heading through the field, we angled to the southeast and headed into the woods approaching Little Cove Creek.  There was no trail, but it was a pretty easy bushwhack following the creek upstream.  Orange paint on some trees provided blazes to follow.  Eventually, we crossed the creek and followed flagging tape on river right side.  Soon, we made it to Milton Bradley Falls, continuing with the Bradley naming of Green River waterfalls.

It's a really nice waterfall and I got pictures from different angles.

There was a lot of moss growing on logs and rocks near the falls.

We stopped for a bit here and then tried to make our way above the waterfall.  There are three more waterfalls upstream, but it was very difficult, especially for Alex.  So we decided to give up and head back down.  We stopped again at the base of Milton Bradley Falls for a snack before hiking back.  The sun was now shining right on the waterfall, so no chance for a good picture, but we did spot a cute little baby snapping turtle on a rock here.

After saying good-bye to the little turtle enjoying the spot with us, we made the hike back.  Driving back along Green River Cove Road, we made a quick stop at Fishtop Access with plans one more waterfall, albeit a small one.  From the parking area, we followed a path upstream a short ways to a cascade on Green River.

I thought this was Fishtop Falls, but after looking at a map, I don't think we went far enough.  More of a rapid than a real waterfall, it was still pretty scenic in high water.  Even more so considering that people paddle over this - with huge rocks around the base, it's definitely for expert kayakers.  After a couple pictures, we headed back and started making the long drive home.  Near Greensboro, we stopped for dinner at Cook Out and got Alex a hot dog, a fitting reward after a weekend of very challenging hikes.

Tanasee Creek Waterfalls

posted May 1, 2018, 4:44 PM by Justin P   [ updated May 28, 2018, 3:25 PM ]

Saturday morning, we woke up and headed into Brevard for a fast food breakfast.  Continuing west on US-64, we turned north on NC-215 and went almost to the Blue Ridge Parkway, turning left on FR-4663.  It was about 6 miles on this rough gravel road to the end at a turnaround to park.  I don't think very many people ever drive this far down the road, though we passed an area that had recently been logged.  We got our stuff together and started hiking down the road past the gate and turned left on FR-4655.  In about a quarter mile, the road crossed Yellow Patch Branch just below a scenic cascade.

Continuing a short ways, the trail curved right to swing around a ridge and into the Wolf Creek drainage.  At this point, we got off the road and started bushwhacking steeply down towards Wolf Creek.  And steep it was, descending about 250 vertical feet to the creek.  Fortunately, the forest was relatively open so at least we could see where we were going and we could hear the waterfall most of the way down.  After going down a ways, we came out at the base of Wolf Mountain Falls.

It's a really beautiful water and we were lucky to see it in high water.

So close to the top of Wolf Mountain, I imagine it could dry up at times.  The water was extremely cold, but I waded out to a rock with Alex, since he's pretty much a wolf.

After a break down here, we followed Wolf Creek downstream a ways.  There was an old logging grade on river right and wasn't too bad.  When we got to the end of the ridge that separates Wolf Creek and Yellow Patch Branch, we crossed the creek and bushwhacked around the ridge to follow Yellow Patch Branch upstream.  Along the way, we spotted a couple of short-winged blister beetles.

Fortunately, Alex wasn't interested as they can secrete a blistering agent.  The going was pretty tough as the slopes of the creek were quite steep and there were a lot of rhododendron and other obstacles.  Soon we made it to the base of the lowest section, which was impressive itself despite the poor lighting.

Then we climbed up to the middle section, which was a 15-foot drop.

Then finally the upper section, which is the most distinct on this waterfall with beautiful mossy rocks.

After a couple pictures, we had to get up.  Going back the way we came would be difficult and long, while FR-4655 was just a short ways up.  Cliffs surrounded most of the waterfall, so we had to climb up at the very top and since it was high water, there was no dry spot.  Alex was not very happy about this at all.  Sandy went up first and then I lifted him up to her and then followed.  It was pretty sketchy, but it was then only a short bushwhack up to FR-4655 and a short hike back to the car.  Once finished, we started heading back on FR-4663, making a stop where the road crosses Tanasee Creek.  We followed the creek upstream along the river left side to a crossing and after crossing, bushwhacked up river right side.  There were some nice cascades along Tanasee Creek here.

After the last waterfalls, this bushwhack was pretty easy and soon we reached the waterfall.

Herrin Knob Falls is a real scenic waterfall near the headwaters of Tanasee Creek at Herrin Knob.  Again, we lucked out seeing it in high water.

Just below the main drop was another narrow chute the dropped into a narrow chasm.  There didn't seem to be any way to get down to the base of this section.

After a few pictures, we started heading back.  Continuing back on FR-4663, we made a sharp turn onto FR-4663B and drove to the end.  There were actually other cars here as this is a more well-known waterfall.  A short hike past the jeep mounds led back to Tanassee Creek at the base of Dill Falls.

I hadn't been here in a while and forgot how big and impressive this one is.  We got a couple pictures and then headed back, following the other road steeply up.  Where it levels off, we turned left and headed down to the base of Upper Dill Falls.

The two are really close to each other despite a 5 to 10 minute walk between.  After a little break here, we headed back to the car.  It was early enough that we wanted to get in one more waterfall.  Heading back into Pisgah National Forest on FR-475, we made a quick stop for a roadside waterfall just past Gloucester Gap on a small tributary.

Driving to the end of the road, we turned north on US-276 to the trailhead for Moore Cove Falls.  The Moore Cove area is a great place for wildflowers and today they did not disappoint.  There were lots of irises, foamflower and violets blooming along the trail.

Moore Cove Falls was crowded, so we crossed the creek and headed to Little Moore Cove Falls first.  The two waterfalls are very similar, though Little Moore Cove is about half the size.

But few people seem to know about it and I've never seen anyone there, even when Moore Cove Falls is very crowded.  We got a couple pictures and headed back.

The crowds had cleared from Moore Cove Falls, so got a couple pictures here before heading back.  The return trip was slow going with many stops for wildflowers along the trail.

There were a lot of heartleaf foamflower in bloom.

Many different violets were popping up, including sweet white violets.

Sandy spotted an enormous Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

When we finished up, it was starting to get late.  We made a quick stop at Looking Glass Falls since we were passing right by it.  Like all the others, the water level was up and it was very powerful..

Then it was dinner at the brewery again tonight, this time getting take out from Hawg Wild.  After dinner we made another campfire before retiring for the evening.

Laurel Fork Waterfalls

posted May 1, 2018, 2:20 PM by Justin P   [ updated May 15, 2018, 2:56 PM ]

This past weekend, Sandy and I took Alex to the mountains for camping and waterfalls.  We left before 6 Friday morning and drove out to Pisgah National Forest.  We made a quick stop at the Pisgah Ranger Station and then headed down Avery Creek Road (FR-477) and found a spot at AC5.  We set up our tent then headed down Davidson River Road (FR-475) to our first hike.  A couple miles after the road changes to gravel, we parked just after the bridge over Laurel Fork.   We got our stuff together and then began following Laurel Fork upstream.  There's no trail, but it was pretty easy to follow initially.   The wildflowers along here were really beautiful, but we planned to stop on the way back.  In about a half mile we came to a rock wall dripping with water.  At this point, we made a steep climb down to the base of Lower Laurel Fork Falls.

The water level was high and this one was really flowing.  There was a lot of downfall over the waterfall, so I had to wade across the creek for a good photo.  Some nice cascades were just downstream of the waterfall.

Then we climbed back up and continued on.  Past the dripping wall, the trail turned right and started following a tributary upstream.  It led to a crossing of the tributary, but a faint path continued upstream.  We followed the path for a little ways, getting away from the creek, so started bushwhacking back towards the creek.  The forest was pretty open here, so not too bad for a bushwhack.  The last bit to get to the waterfall was quite steep.

Soon we made it to Gemini Falls, a very scenic waterfall.

With plenty of downed trees, we found a nice spot for a rest to enjoy the waterfall.  Sandy spotted a Jack in the Pulpit here.

After a bit, we bushwhacked back down to the path and found a place to cross the tributary and continued upstream along Laurel Fork.  No trail here either and the going was tough.  Towards the end, it was really Rocky and we had to navigate around big boulders.  It was just too difficult for Alex, so he waited in a shady grotto and took a rest.  Getting to where I could see the waterfall, there was no good way down to the base.

The water level was way up and there was a lot of mist.  I got up right next to the waterfall about midway up, but there were a few branches in the way.

Got a couple quick pictures and headed back to Alex and then started back down the mountain.  Past the rock wall above Lower Laurel Fork Falls, the path got a lot easier and we stopped to see the wildflowers.  There were several beautiful showy orchis in bloom.

A lot of heartleaf foamflower were blooming.

And near the end, there was a lot of fleabane as we got closer to the road.

Soon, we made it back to the car. From here, we turned around on FR-475 and drove a short ways to the trailhead for Daniel Ridge Trail.  After crossing the bridge over Davidson River, we turned right on the Forest Road 5046 and hiked to Toms Spring Falls, also called Daniel Ridge or Jackson Falls.

I've been here a couple times and this was by far the highest water I've seen.  First I scrambled up for a profile view.

Then back to the road for a frontal view, though the sun prevented a good shot.  So we continued on FR-5046, eventually coming back to Toms Spring Branch after about 1.5 miles at Upper Toms Spring Falls.

Just upstream of the road was this 45-foot waterfall over dark rock.  It was really nice and easy to visit - I'm surprised I hadn't visited earlier.

Just after the waterfall, the road intersected Daniel Ridge Loop Trail (#105) and we went left to head back down.  The lighting was better, so I ran back to Toms Spring Falls for a better picture from the road.

It was still early enough for one more stop.  With all the rain, I wanted to visit Slick Rock Falls as the last time I had been here, there wasn't much falling water.  Continuing on FR-475 back to the paved part, we made a quick stop at the roadside Lower Rockhouse Creek Falls.

II scrambled down to the base of this nice little roadside waterfall.  A half mile past here, we turned sharply left on Headwaters Road (FR-475B) and headed up to the trailhead for Slick Rock Falls.  The waterfall was visible from the road and had a lot more water than on my last visit.

I climbed around on the rocks to get a picture from different angles.

Spotted a southern nodding trillium here.

After a couple picture, I headed down from the road and followed Slick Rock Creek downstream past the roadside campsites.  After crossing the creek, I hiked past a rock wall and then came to Lower Slick Rock Falls.  I couldn't get to the base but came out at a nice spot in the middle for a view of this one.

It was getting later and we were all tired so we left the forest and went to Ecusta Brewery for dinner.  They only serve alcohol, so dogs are allowed and Mama Bear food truck was in the parking lot to get some food.  After dinner and a couple drinks, we drove back to our campsite and built a nice campfire.  A tree had fallen down and there was plenty of wood to burn.

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