Harper Creek Falls
Harper Creek Falls is a 2 tiered sliding waterfall about 50' high on Harper Creek. It's a beautiful spot and is a popular swimming hole in the summer months. The 1.75 mile trail to the upper view is fairly easy to moderate, but the view in the above picture is down a very steep scramble trail, then there's a final short descent to creek level with the assist of an unofficial rope. This is not a place to bring small children although there are spots along the creek to play in before you get to the falls. There are also several nice primitive camping spots along the way that are often occupied on summer week ends.
Directions: From Morganton traveling north on NC 181, reset your mileage where the 4 lanes goes to 2 lane and drive 10.3 miles to Brown Mountain Beach Road. Turn right before the church and continue for 5 miles to a bridge across Wilson Creek. Turn left on SR 1328 just after the bridge and drive 7 miles following Wilson Creek to parking area on the left. The trail head is marked as #260 and is the Harper Creek Trail. Check your trail map for other access possibilities using different trails if you are on a multi day backpack trip.
The orange blazed trail begins by steeply ascending for a 1/4 mile to a ridge line. Continue and pass a right turn for the red blazed Yellow Buck Trail (#265). At about 3/4 of a mile into the hike will be some primitive camping, then there will be more at just over a mile where the Raider Camp Trail (#277) comes in from the left. You may also notice white blazes as both ways are now part of the Mountains to Sea Trail. You'll bear to the right and continue up the Harper Creek Trail. You might want to wander through the camp sites and up the creek for more spots to enjoy Harper Creek from. In less than 1/4 mile farther up the Harper Creek Trail, the trail splits. The MST and Harper Creek Trail go to the right, but take the left fork and stay along the creek the remaining way to the waterfall. You'll pass the obvious scramble trail on the left that goes down to the base of the waterfall, then the trail ends at the view of the upper section of the waterfall pictured below.
The view from up here isn't that great, but it's all you get unless you are part mountain goat. You can't see it in this photo, but there is also 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. The last part is steep over sloping rock and 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. That rope may or may not be there and there's no telling what condition it is in, so proceed with caution! 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 from this area if the rock is wet. If you do get down to this section, this is what you'll see.
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