kayakers on Wilson Creek

The Wilson Creek area is part of the Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest. Looking at a map, the area is just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain and east of NC 181, north of Morganton. Wilson Creek was added to the National Wild and Scenic River System on August 18, 2000. The headwaters are below Calloway Peak and the creek stretches over 23 miles before emptying into John's River. The designations are as follows - Wild - 4.6 miles; Scenic - 2.9 miles; Recreational - 15.8 miles, but I don't know which sections are which designation. Activities in the area include hiking, car camping, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing and swimming. More info can be found at the Friends of Wilson Creek web site.

lower waterfall on Gragg Prong 

There aren't really any waterfalls on Wilson Creek, they are on the creeks and streams that feed into Wilson Creek. There are at least a couple of ways to access the area. The way I am most familiar with is from the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile post 311.1. Turn left if you are heading south on the BRP on SR 1518 which is Old Jonas Ridge Rd, 6 miles south of the intersection of Hwy 221 and the BRP. The road is dirt/gravel, then part has been recently paved, then back to gravel on the forest road. 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 main road curves to the right, but continue straight past the church on the narrower FR 464. It's about 2.5 miles to a right hand turn on to FR58 and I'll use this intersection as a reference point for some of the directions.

The other way is as follows - from Morganton, traveling north on NC 181, reset your milage where the 4 lanes goes to 2 lane and go 10.3 miles to Brown Mountain Beach Road. Turn right and continue for 5 miles to SR 1328. Turn left - there was no road sign there on my last trip, but there was a Pisgah Forest sign. Pass the commercial campground on the left and the road turns to gravel following the Wilson Creek gorge. There are quite a few places to park and head down to the creek and this stretch is a popular swimming area. The road continues on - after 4.5 miles it crosses a bridge. Just before this, stop in at the log Wilson Creek Visitor's Center. Bear to the right and continue another 4-5 miles until the road ends at the Mortimer Recreation Area - NC 90. You will have passed a parking area on the left for one end of Trail #260. Turn left and FR464 comes in from the left a mile or so up.

That last way above follows a lot of gravel road - if you would rather be on paved, keep going up 181 to the Parkway, then head north on the Parkway to MP 311.1. There are a lot of trails in this area and if you've never been, you will need a compass and the Wilson Creek Area Trail Map available at many NC outdoors/gear stores or at the visitor's center. Also look for Kevin Knight's guide book to the Wilson Creek area. It's $10 and is also available at Brown Mountain Beach Resort, Walkers store and Betsy's store which is at the end of Brown Mountain Beach Rd and Hwy 90. Here's what I've seen so far...


Bard Falls

Harper Creek Falls

Hunt-Fish Falls and 2 waterfalls on Gragg Prong

Little Lost Cove Creek Falls

North Harper Creek Falls

waterfall on Phillips Branch

South Harper Creek Falls

waterfall on Steels Creek

waterfall on Thorps Creek

Upper Creek Falls

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