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.
At the top of the cascades you will see assorted trails. The main trail that stays to the left and goes highest will bypass the cascades entirely and will quickly lead you to a ‘ T ‘ intersection where you will take a right on the blue blazed trail which leads down to the creek where you will have to take another right and follow it across the creek and about 100 feet further upstream to the bottom of the 40 foot tall vertical North Harper Creek Falls. This is the same blue blazed trail we came up on from the top of the Chestnut Cove Branch Falls on our trip here last week. Following the high trail from the ‘ T ‘ is trail #239 and will lead to the top of the mountain where it ends at FR #464 where the trail head to trail #271A (Little Lost Cove Cliffs Trail) is located. It seems I was right in the fact that the North Harper Creek Falls was indeed only about 150 feet upstream from where we stopped before ! Starting at the top of the 200 foot cascades, I worked my way down to each level one at a time being careful on the steep, dry rock. I was watching for more Northern Watersnakes since we had seen so many just below here the week before but, the only one I found there was a dead one.
These cascades are perhaps the largest and tallest I have ever seen and have at least three major drops before they plunge over the vertical part of the falls. When I reached the middle section where the water spreads out over the entire area, I had to enter the woods again on the left side and then where I crossed a small feeder spring, I had to go off trail and cross that water (which actually became a very steep and small falls just below me) to get around to where I could get back out on the exposed rock at the top of the last level. After that it was not hard to get down to where I could stand on the top edge of the vertical falls. I must advise being very careful here as with all falls, if one fell here it would mean serious injury or death. The sun was intensely bright so getting any quality pics would be out of the question, but I took what I could of the magnificent cascades and then hung out on the top of the vertical falls while I waited on Dave and Lou to take the easier high trail around and come up to the bottom of the falls. Once they arrived there I found my way down the right side as it was much shorter and not as steep as the left side and it beat taking the high trail, the long way around. Also, on the left side there is a small feeder stream the comes into the creek right at the bottom edge of the falls so it is wet not to mention very steep there but either way is doable for those that have the ability and high adventure level.
Since there is no way to get all these cascades in one or even two photo`s, please see the complete set HERE.
I soon found my way down the left side of the falls and came through the woods to join Dave and Lou at the bottom where they advised me of a cute little Northern Watersnake that was guarding one of the rock crossings there at the bottom of the falls. Despite his being a bit camera shy, I did manage to get his picture before he decided to hide under the rocks. The vertical part of these falls is 40 feet high and is well worth seeing as they are a fantastic looking waterfall. There is a unique symbol in the rock at the top left of these falls and I have to wonder how water managed to carve that out. It resembles a spider and is very cool looking.
We set up our tripods and then ate our lunches while we waited on some clouds to come. Unfortunately that would not happen until late that evening when we would be on the road headed home. This being said, we got what photo`s we could before the time came to head back up the trail to the vehicle.
We went back down the creek about 150 feet or less to the blue blazed trail at the top of the Chestnut Cove Branch Falls and made that short but steep climb back to the high trail where we went left and followed it back to the top of the cascades and then on to the vehicle. I did climb down in one place where I heard some water falling and found a very nice small waterfall with a fairly large set of cascades just below them. Dave and Lou actually joined me there as they were worth the extra effort to see. While Dave took some pics of the falls, I climbed down through the laurels to get a shot of the cascades from below.
From there it did not take long to hike the trail back to the private property where I climbed up the rocks to get a view of the house there. After crossing the creek above the small cascades there, I followed the creek for a short ways and found an old sign that had been bent or rather folded together which I straightened out and took a picture of. A few minutes later we were back at the car and headed to the barbeque joint. It had been a hot day but it was another awesome trip in the woods to some really great waterfalls. I can`t wait until our next trip back to this area. I think the South Harper Falls is next on the list. Until then,,,,
To see more pics of these falls and cascades, please visit the Photo Gallery HERE.