9-15-07 It had been several years since the last time I visited Hunt-Fish Falls and the waterfalls on Gragg Prong. I'm not sure why - it's such a beautiful area. For that reason, it's also very popular. On a warm summer day you can expect a small crowd because of the killer swimming hole and abundance of primitive camping spots in the area.
Directions: I come in this area off of the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile post 311.1. Turn left if you are heading south on the BRP (right turn coming from Linville Falls) on SR 1518 which is Old Jonas Ridge Rd. This is an intersection, but I didn't see a green road name sign this time. The road is dirt/gravel, paved, then back to gravel. Follow it for a little less than 2 miles, past a Christmas tree farm on the right and to a little white church on the left. The road curves to the right, but continue straight past the church on the narrower FR 464 After passing the church, drive 6.2 miles on FR464 to the parking area on the left and the trail head (#263) for Hunt Fish Falls. You'll have passed some private property on the left, FR58 to the right, and several other trail heads along FR464.
The trail to Hunt Fish Falls is about 3/4 of a mile and mostly downhill. You will come out above the falls on Lost Cove Creek and Trail #262. There's a nice little campsite right next to the creek. Trail #262 follows Lost Cove Creek next to the falls and there are numerous places to head out on the rocks and check out the falls. The falls itself is rather small - 2 little 8 ft falls that feed into a large pool at the base - but the whole area is scenic and quite pretty.
To get to the waterfalls on Gragg Prong, you have 2 choices. You can continue down trail #262 then up Gragg Prong, or you can head back to your vehicle and drive over to the Roseborough access for trail #262. I haven't been that way, so I'm sticking with the former. Keep heading down the trail below Hunt-Fish Falls. You'll hear more cascades and see fisherman's trails down if you care to take a look. Lost Cove Creek flattens out and you'll soon come to a large primitive camping area. This area will fill up with church groups, scouts, and others on a nice week end. Stay on the white blazed trail past the campsites and to the creek crossing. Look for the double white blazes. Good luck keeping your feet completely dry here. Pick up the trail again, head up the small slope and to the right. The trail is soon next to the creek again and you'll come to some 'Posted' signs. Look for the trail to head to the left around this point. It pickes up Gragg Prong to the right and you'll notice that the water is running the opposite way than when it was along Lost Cove Creek.
The trail will soon come to a crossing of Gragg Prong and you'll be lucky again if you can keep your feet dry. It continues up the right side and in about 1/4 mile, will begin to ascend noticably. If you want to see the lower falls from below, this is your best access area. People do come down from the top, but if you slip you could be very dead. When you get to the point where the trail turns very steep, backtrack and look for a way through the shrub. I noticed a small ridge heading down to some buried boulders and climbed down there, but had to rock hop back up to the view in the next picture.
To get any closer, you'll have to cross the stream and head up the left side, then cross again at the base of the falls. If the bedrock is wet, this will be close to impossible because the rock will be so slippery.
If you've made it to this point, you now have a dilemma. The safest thing to do to continue is to retrace your route back to the trail, then continue up to the top of the waterfall. But you'll be looking up the right side of the waterfall thinking 'I could probably do that'. If the rock is wet - forget it. If it's completely dry it's still a crap shoot and you have to ask yourself - 'is this the day I want to die?' So, back at the trail where you left it a while ago, continue up the steep section then back down to the top of the waterfall. There's a beautiful view down the falls and gorge.
I didn't realize this until the newest version of Kevin Adams' NC waterfall guide came out, but there's also an upper waterfall on Gragg Prong. Most visitors to this falls come in from the Roseborough side of Trail #262 on FR981. From the lower waterfall, continue up trail #262 for about 1/4 mile and look for the side trails leading down to the big area of bedrock at the waterfall. The upper waterfall isn't that big, but there are a couple of small swimming holes in the waterfall and a big one just below the waterfalls. This is another beautiful area and a popular hangout on a warm summer day. Quite a few people came and went while I was there waiting for some cloud cover to shoot.
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