Once again we found ourselves back in the Harper Creek area of North Carolina except this time we decided to go on the other side and venture down the Little Lost Cove Creek where there are two really nice falls. From reading information I found available about these falls I was expecting it to be a harder hike and nowhere near as nice a falls as they actually were. I found this trip to be easier than described and the falls to be much bigger and more awesome than anticipated. We arrived at the trail head around our usual time of 10:30 am which is located off FR 464 in between the two trail heads for the Lost Cove Cliffs which are on the other side of the road. You will turn off onto FR 464A and follow it down into the Lost Cove Creek hollow where you will cross a shallow creek and then the road ends in a circular parking area where you will park and see the trail leading down to your left on an old road bed over some dirt humps designed to keep vehicles out. It is not too far down this very nice trail to where you will find a noticeable trail leading steeply down to the right. There is a small log laying perpendicular across this trail there. This is a decent trail but it is STEEP !! It goes down and down past this big tree with a HUGE growth on it, until you come to the upper falls. You will have no trouble hearing or seeing them from this trail so you wont miss them. You will have to go down another steep side trail to get down to the falls. The main part of these falls is about 40+ feet in height but like many other falls there is more to them above which can not be seen all at one time so they are actually overall about twice that height.
On Tuesday, June 26, 2012, I went with my waterfall crazy friend Dave and our friend Lou to find the South Harper Creek Falls in North Carolina. [Note: There is NOT really a South Harper Creek ! These falls are actually on Harper Creek but they are named South Harper Creek Falls to avoid confusing them with Harper Creek Falls (which are downstream below them ; I am unsure why they are not called Upper and Lower) and the North Harper Creek Falls]. Leaving Hairnt-Quarters around 9 am, we found the trail head for Trail # 260 where it begins/ends on USFR # 58 by 10:30 am. It was a sunny day and the laurels were still in full bloom as we made our way down the very nice orange blazed trail. I noticed they put the blazes on the inside of the trees so one blaze has to do for both directions instead of painting them on the outside of the tree with one for each way. The trail is in great shape and was level for the most part. It wasn’t long before we reached a slight turning point in the trail where there is a large farm located on private property on the forest service boundary line, where the trail veers to the left to go around the edge of it. After this the trail soon turns back to the right and goes down a short hill where it reaches a trail intersection and Harper Creek. Going to the left will continue on Trail # 260 and take you to the top of the falls but going to the right will lead you quickly to the creek where you must cross to get over to another trail intersection. We thought this was where the MST (Mountains To Sea Trail) was but we later found out that it no longer goes this way. We would check out that area and the cascades found there later on our way out since we would be coming back this way.
One week ago we ventured up the North Harper Creek gorge in search of the Chestnut Cove Branch Falls and the North Harper Creek Falls. We did find the former but due to reasons you can read about in the previous blog, we did not make it to the North Harper Creek Falls. Approximately one week later, Dave, Lou and myself made another trip back to the North Harper Creek to see those falls. This time we would take a much shorter route starting on FR #58 where trail #266 begins and went down the creek until we reached the top of the falls. This is a fairly easy trail that skirts the edge of some private property located on the left side of the creek and progresses through a beautiful forest until after about a mile you reach the top of the falls. You will cross the creek three times and pass by a couple of nice cascades along the way. The top of the falls looks almost identical to the Chestnut Cove Branch Falls except MUCH LARGER!! It is a very wide, open rock face area with a 200 foot cascade. If it is dry you can easily walk down the left side of this (looking down from the top) and make your way down the various levels of this enormous cascade however, the water does change course and move over to the left side (looking down) and to get down to the lower sections you will have to go back into the woods and take the trail further down to get around it but can then access the lower parts and the top of the vertical falls there.
With a very early start to this year`s Spring / Summer season, with record breaking warm temps, and a substantial amount of rainfall, the weed whacking time came early this year. It was still the usual time of mid June before we could make it to my trail section on the A.T. so the weeds were growing exceptionally well. Luckily my son Tyler (right side of picture) agreed to help me out again this year plus as an added bonus, our friend Bol’Dar met us at the end and had cut the weeds all the way from Spivey Gap to High Rocks. Since we stopped cutting around High Rocks, this worked out perfectly. Tyler and I met Doug Corkhill (left side in picture) at Spivey Gap around 9:30 am where we left my car and rode with him to the top of Big Bald where we discovered the key would not work on the locked gate. This was not a big deal for us, however, for Doug it did complicate things as he had brought a push mower to cut the trail across the grassy part just North of the bald and a weed eater to go from the woods on to the shelter and out the ridge to the top of Little Bald where my section starts. This meant he had to push the mower the extra distance down the road just to get to the trail. After that he would have to return it all the way back to the truck and then carry the weed eater in and cut the rest of the trail. To make matters worse, the mower did not want to start at that altitude. We could see him struggling with it as we looked back from the top of the first hill before we got out of sight. We later learned from a Northbound hiker that after some strong words and more pulling on the start cord that it did finally start and he was able to complete the task which was good news indeed.
After last week`s adventure to the Huntfish Falls on the North side of FR #464 which took us down into the gorge where the Little Lost Cove Creek is located, it was decided that this week we would go down the South side to the gorge where the North Harper Creek is located. There are numerous falls located in that area plus the Mountains To Sea Trail also covers part of it along with many other intersecting trails making unlimited loop hike possibilities. Dave submitted his idea for a loop hike to the planning committee which was approved so we ended up parking at the trail head where Trail # 239 and Trail #271A is located. On the way we saw a Doe and her newborn fawn (not quite a day old) cross the road in front of us. The fawn kept falling down as his new legs were not working so well yet ! After parking at the trail head, we would walk a short distance down the road (East) to find an unmarked trail that you can almost see from the vehicle which we would take down to the creek about a mile below where we would pick up Trail #266 which is the trail that runs beside the creek in the bottom of the gorge. This unmarked trail was easy to find but is only a faint trail with an old sign post that had the number 39 sprayed on it in faded orange paint.The trail is on some maps and was shown to go straight down the ridge and appeared steep on the map but ended up being a pretty good trail with only a few minor trouble spots. It was a quick, efficient way to get to the bottom of the gorge and trail #266 which was about a mile below the North Harper and Chestnut Cove Br Falls and about a quarter mile above the MTS Trail intersection. It did not take long to reach the bottom where we had to cross the creek to find trail #266 where we took a right and proceeded upstream on a very nice trail through some beautiful ferns towards the waterfalls.