Upper Little Lost Cove Falls
8-22-10 My first visit to Little Lost Cove Creek to search for a waterfall was in 2001 and at the time, I only knew of 1 waterfall - the upper waterfall. It wasn't until a few years later that I realized there were 2 waterfalls very close to each other here and both are well worth the effort it takes to reach them. Assuming you park along FR464, the hike to the lower waterfall is about 1.5 miles. Most of the is along old forest roads, but the last couple of tenths of a mile are down a steep rudimentary path with some off trail scrambling involved. The upper waterfall is about 30' high and is pictured above. The lower falls is about 60' high and is more of a sliding type waterfall. Serious waterfallers will want to add both of these to their list, but try to go when creek levels are at least normal. Little Lost Cove Creek Falls is shown on the Wilson Creek area trail map, but it doesn't show any trail going to it.
Directions: There are several ways to get here, so check your maps for the way that is best from the direction you are coming from. I usually come into this area off of the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile post 311.1 north of Linville Falls which is the intersection of SR1518 (Old Jonas Ridge Rd). Turn right on the gravel road if you are heading north on the BRP from Linville (left turn coming from the Grandfather Mountain area). There may or may not be a green road sign - there wasn't on my last visit to this area. The road begins as gravel, but turns back to pavement. Pass a Christmas tree farm on the right and at 1.7 miles from the Parkway, look for the Long Ridge Baptist church on the right. The main road curves to the right, but continue straight past the church on the narrower gravel FR464. From the church drive 4 miles on FR464 and look for FR464A which cuts sharply back to the left. If the gate is open and you have a high clearance vehicle, you can try driving the 0.8 miles to the overused unattractive camp site and park here. This will cut your hiking distance in half.
No matter if you arrive at the camp site by foot or by vehicle, once you are there, stay to the left and walk around the Jeep mounds the best way that you can. The 2 big dips usually have muddy water in them, then the trail becomes an old road and I'm assuming is still FR464A. The side path down from the main trail to the waterfall is about 1/2 mile from this point. When I'm estimating how long it will take me to hike a certain distance on a trail, I usually figure I hike at 2 mph, so 1/2 mile should be about 15 minutes. Since this part is downhill and easy, it took me about 10-12 minutes at a steady pace the last time I went. Part of the way down you will hear the sound of the creek to the right and down in the shrub. Look for an area after that where the trail widens and has a thin layer of moss growing around it with quite a bit of loose small rough stone. The road/trail will bear to the left and the side trail down to the waterfall is a short distance after that. On the 2010 trip, there was flagging tape, a small rock, and a small log running parallel to the trail marking the spot to go down. This trail is steep, but there are a lot of rhododendron to hang on to on the way down. The trail is fairly well defined and had flagging tape also. Don't count on it though. It's almost straight down to the base of the upper falls pictured above. When you get to a view of the falls, the trail turns left and heads along the ridge down creek to the lower falls. Drop straight down to see the upper falls.
Upper Little Lost Cove Falls
To get to the lower waterfall, continue down the trail I mentioned above. It's primitive, but I thought it was easy to follow and there was flagging tape again. You'll soon be able to see the top of the waterfall - avoid it and keep going!! It's very steep in this area and the trail does a nice job of feeding you down the bank below the waterfall. You'll have to cross the creek and climb up the boulders for the best view. This waterfall is over 60' high and the water really does flow sideways down the rock. The last picture is from the most recent trip which shows a difference in water volume from a previous trip. In his latest guide book, Kevin Adams mentions that you can continue down creek from here through the woods until you come to the Lost Cove Trail (#262). Turn left on the trail and go until you pick up an old logging road on the left. This is the same road (trail) you were on past the camp site, so you could just follow this back up to where you parked. I haven't field checked this yet, so good luck if you try it!
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