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.
It was an intensely bright sunny day so again we would not get any fancy pictures but to me that is just another excuse to come back plus, once again our friend Bol’Dar was unable to go on this trip so he will certainly want to see these falls. The unique feature about these falls is that they go behind a HUGE rock that sits right near the top that spans over half the falls blocking out most of the view. It looks like this fell down from above many years ago. Once you get to the base of the falls you can see more of these glorious falls but to see what the rock is hiding you must climb to the top of that rock. This is not that difficult and after getting what pictures I could from the base is exactly what I did.
What I found there was impressive as the water disperses into ‘fingers’ until it reaches a sort of ‘trough’ at the top of the huge rock where it channels it over to the other side before continuing to drop further down to the base of the falls. Very nice indeed and despite the top of the falls being completely exposed to bright sun, there was some shade on the fingers which allowed for some decent shots to be taken.
There are some really nice cascades that are equally as tall as the main falls just above which technically are part of the falls but it would require some effort to get to a point to be able to see or photograph them so I opted to save that for a later date hopefully with more clouds and maybe some more water although there was enough water on this trip to make the falls very enjoyable. We stayed there for quite awhile before climbing back up the short but steep bank back to the trail where we would continue further downstream to find the lower falls that we had heard about.
It is not very far until the trail takes you to the top of the lower falls as these falls are almost within sight of each other. The lower falls starts cascading for a considerable distance at the top before going over the much steeper part of the main falls. To see the main falls one must get to the base of them but that is where it gets a little tricky. As you continue on the trail you will come to a point to where you see the base of the falls but they are a long way down below you. You will also see a trail or two that goes off the side of the unbelievably steep slope of hill that leads down to them and if you go that way it gets even steeper and will become a butt slide for life type of situation. if you are up for that kind of adventure, then by all means have at it as I did exactly that but, there is a much easier way to reach the same destination which I found on the way out. Simply stay on the trail and continue past the falls. It soon circles around and veers to the right, going down the ridge and seems to be taking you away from the falls but it is actually just a much easier way and an actual trail that gets you down to the creek where a nice campsite is and you can walk an easy short hike back up to the base of the falls. You can see them pretty much the whole time. I also recommend going back that way as the ‘butt slide hill’ is really steep and is a killer. (See if you can find Lou in this photo) Supposedly that trail continues down the Little Lost Cove Creek until it soon meets the larger Lost Cove Creek but I did not see a visible or worn trail but it looked very doable if one wanted to do so. Also keep in mind that while in the Little Lost Cove Hollow, that the Big Lost Cove Cliffs are way up above you on the same side as the trail you came in on. We plan a trip there next.
After we all ‘butt slid‘ down the hill to the base of the falls we were quite impressed at the size and splendor of these falls. They are much higher than what I had read they were and are easily over 40+ feet high especially if you consider the top part before it goes over the steeper drop. There are some very large size rocks at the bottom of these falls and I climbed up on the largest one just to the left of the falls to get the big picture of the area while we all ate our lunches. We were hoping some clouds would come over but it was not going to happen until later in the day when we would be already gone.
We stayed there taking pictures and enjoying the vast beauty of the area and I could tell that Lou was definitely not looking forward to climbing back up the steep ‘butt slide hill’ so I studied the topography from high atop the large rock I was standing on to find a better way back to the trail. I could see a distinct ridge line coming down from where I knew the trail was above, and what looked like an actual trail that continued down the creek from the falls, so I opted to go down and check that out to see if there was a better way and lo and behold, that is when I discovered that the trail we were on above, actually goes to that point. Lou was relieved and we slowly made our way downstream away from the falls past the campsite and began the slow ascent on the trail. It was a warm day and the sun was still beating down on us but it did feel good to be going through some laurel tunnels as we slowly made our way back up the steep trail. Before long we came back to the point where we had went down at. From there it leveled out some as we made the hike back to the upper falls.
Along the way there was a place where the trail came closer to the creek right at the top of the lower falls and I thought I could see something worth investigating. Lou needed a rest anyway so I climbed down off trail to the creek to check things out. I went down and stood at the top of the cascades that are actually the top of the lower falls and then I found some intriguing cascades and reflection pools above there as I made my way up the creek towards the upper falls. It was such a nice ‘visual photographic moment‘ that I had to yell for Dave to come down and check it out too as I knew his camera would do much better than mine would. He eagerly agreed and came down and got some decent shots for himself before we made our way back to the trail where Lou was waiting and we all began the steep climb back to the old road trail high above us.
It took much longer to get back up that hill than it did to come down it, that`s for sure as it is very steep. You basically have to go from tree to tree holding on to whatever you can get your hands on to pull yourself up one step at a time taking several rest breaks as you go or, at least, that`s how we did it ! After what seemed like a long time, I came to the big tree with the huge knot on it so I knew the top was not much farther. I rested there and then with one last burst of energy did the last stretch back up to where I could see the log that lies across the trail that marks the top. It was a welcome sight to see. Several breaths later I was there looking back at Dave and Lou as they tackled the last part of this oppressive climb.We were all reprieved by the salvation of the now level ground we were standing on. After a good rest and water break, we began the hike back to the vehicle. it is only slightly uphill from there compared to the previous climbs on a much nicer trail so it was much appreciated. It is to be noted that this trail supposedly does continue in the opposite direction and eventually would lead into the Lost Cove Creek gorge and the other trails there. Maybe one day I will come back and find out.
We were all glad to make it back to the vehicle and were already salivating at the thoughts of eating barbeque at the Highlander BBQ restaurant in Roan Mountain which has become a regular stop for us on our way home from this area on each of our adventures there. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays so it was decided that we would not hike on those days ! Their food is as awesome as the adventures in the mountains are and go hand in hand to compliment each other and I can not wait until our next trip which I am pretty sure will once again be back to this same area as there is still much left to see and explore.
For more photo`s of these falls please visit our Photo Gallery here.