Harper Creek Falls
5-17-08 My first trip to this waterfall was in 2001 and I have no idea why I haven't been back until this year. It's a beautiful spot and I suspect it's a popular swimming hole in the summer months. The 1.75 mile trail to the upper view is fairly easy, but the view in the above picture is down a scramble trail, then a final short descent with the assist of an unofficial rope.
Directions: The easiest way to the parking area if you are coming from Morganton is via Brown Mountain Beach Rd. Traveling north on NC 181, reset your mileage where the 4 lanes goes to 2 lane outside Morganton and go 10.3 miles to Brown Mountain Beach Road. Turn right and continue for 5 miles to SR 1328 and turn left. I've seen this road called both Wilson Creek Rd and a continuation of Brown Mountain Beach Rd. This road turns to gravel and follows Wilson Creek. Drive about 7.5 miles and look for an obvious small parking lot on the left side. This is fairly new - parking used to be along the side of the road. The trail head is marked as #260 and is the Harper Creek Trail. Check your trail map for other access possibilities using different trails.
The trail steeply ascends for a short distance to a ridge line. I think the blazes were orange or reddish - oops, forgot to write that down. (Look at the 1st of the hike, then follow whatever color that was.) Continue on this trail for a short distance and pass a right turn for Trail #265. Keep going for maybe 10-15 minutes and pick up Harper Creek on your left. Keep going for about the same distance and come to the intersection of the Raider Camp Creek Trail #277. There's big primitive camping area here. Turn right here and continue up the Harper Creek Trail for about 10 minutes. The main trail breaks off to the right, but continue straight up the side trail to the waterfall. You'll pass the obvious scramble trail down to the base - continue past that for a short distance to the end of the trail and this view down to the main section of the waterfall.
The view from up here isn't that great. You can't see it in this photo, but there is a small cascade above the main drop. As I previously mentioned, you can go back down to the scramble trail, go down to the rope and see what you think. It's not too bad - it's just an assist down a bit of sloping rock. The rock will be extremely slippery if it's wet! Look back up at the 1st photo - people swim out to the waterfall, then shimmy up a rope on the left to the middle level. The only other way down is by a steeper scramble trail between the one to the base and the end of the trail. It's a short distance down to a much thicker rope for an assist down a much steeper and higher section of rock. It's the slope seen on the right in the 1st photo. If you slip here you will be seriously injured or killed! Stay away if the rock is wet. If you get to this section, this is what you'll see.
For an excellent full day loop, continue up the Harper Creek Trail for a total of about 5 miles to South Harper Creek Falls. Cross the creek on the trail above the waterfall and loop around to the cliff view of the falls. Then pick up the Raider Camp Trail #277 back to the Harper Creek Trail and back to the vehicle
back to Wilson Creek page
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