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  1. #1
    Moderator TallPaul's Avatar
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    NC - Wilson Creek via MST

    This 3 day trip followed the Mountains to Sea trail through the North Carolina Wilson Creek wilderness area. I continued on the MST / Tanawha trail to near the Rough Ridge viewpoint. Itís a great section with 5 major waterfalls and some scenic overlooks.




    I parked my car on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Wilson Creek overview parking area. My daughter shuttled me 20 minutes to where the MST crosses NC-181. You can park overnight on the BRP as long as you call their communication center and let them know about it (license plate #, location, etc).

    The trail started out steeply downhill off of 181. It eventually crossed the first of MANY creeks that have to be forded. Your choices are to take your shoes off like ~15 times; wear something like Tevas; or just get your old pair of lawn mowing tennis shoes wet everytime. I chose the later.




    I did get a bit turned around in this section. The trail is blazed with white circles indicating the MST. I must have missed a turn and kept going up a wash I thought was the trail. When it didnít feel right, I checked my phone and consulted the Avenza App with Wilson Creek map (both free). I also carried a map, which turned out handy when I realized I forget my battery pack to charge my phone.




    The trail soon gained elevation following old logging roads. I enjoyed some wild blackberries along the way. I took the junction to South Harper Creek falls viewpoint, where you can see the 120 foot waterfall. The water was flowing nicely as we had a tropical storm system come thru a couple days earlier. Note: there is no sign at the trail junction indicating the waterfall is nearby. I continued back on the MST to an area near Harper Creek falls and setup camp. That first day I cleared a lot of cobwebs, only running into 3 day hikers.

    After enjoying some coffee and oatmeal for breakfast, I packed up my gear, some of which was wet from an overnight rain. I headed to check out Harper Creek Falls. It has a great pool for swimming. The way down to the falls is not marked and not directly on the MST - typically you can just follow people - itís a popular spot. The trail down to the falls had a rope to assist with the steep (and often wet) trail. But the view/pool is worth the effort. I lucked out and beat the summer crowd and had it all to myself.






    The trail this day alternated between walking near creeks and winding between drainages. Youíre tempted to stop and admire all the unnamed rapids and pools. There are numerous dispersed campsites along the way, where one could bring a floaty and stay for awhile.

    Bard Falls is right along the trail and hard to miss. This was a new one for me and it was beautiful. The falls cascade down a rock into a small pool and then meander through a verdant rock garden. I stayed for awhile and took in the scenery while eating some pita chips and salami.



    Further on I hit both Hunt Fish Falls and Gragg Prong Falls. Both are worth a swim or at least stopping and admiring. Thunder and a bit of rain had me moving along from Hunt Fish Falls not long after I arrived. The sun came out at Gragg Prong Falls so I spread out my wet gear but not sure it made much difference - the humidity was off the charts. I continued on past Roseboro Rd and the trail climbed a 4x4 road (no traffic while I was there). I found a small spot next to a creek. It wasnít a great spot but I slept great - 11 hours. Only disruption was a random dog howling on the road at 1:36 am. I didnít know if I should be scared or sad it was lost.










    My final day started out uphill, as I climbed toward the Parkway. It was a struggle as the humidity was again through the roof. A brief rain storm dropped the temp 15 degrees, which felt great. It was also nice having access to water on the uphill portion. I did run across an old timer heading toward upper Gragg Pring Creek for some fly fishing. I donít know who was more surprised to see the other person. I finally got to Beacon Heights and had a break in the weather. Grandfather Mtn was clouded in but I could see most of the Wilson Creek valley.




    After I relaxed a bit, I headed for the final viewpoint - Rough Ridge. After 15 min of hiking, the sky opened and heavy rain hit. I reached for my rain jacket only to find it had dislodged from the top of my backpack somewhere on the trail. I stood under my waterproof map for 5 minutes but when the rain didnít slow down I continued hiking. I had over an hour left to the car - I gave up on the idea of going up to Rough Ridge. I was soaked - this rain storm was like the ones you encounter on the interstate and have to slow down to 40 mph. I eventually took a side trail down to Wilson Creek Overview where my car was parked. Fortunately I had dry clothes to change into.

    All in all it was a great trip. Learned a few things - double tie rain coats if they are being carried outside the pack. And apparently Iím getting old and need a sticky on the steering wheel to check my list before leaving home.
    Not everybody can do one way trips but this is a short shuttle so figured d still share it on here. If you want more mileage, add Steele Creek (Linville Gorge side of NC-181) or hike on toward Blowing Rock. Or do the big enchilada and hike from 221 through the gorge to Beacon Heights.


    Guide and GPS coordinate info for segment 4 & 5
    https://mountainstoseatrail.org/the-...-trail-guides/

    Avenza map - Wilson Creek - Lost Cove - Harper Creek
    https://www.avenzamaps.com/maps/9054...e-harper-creek
    Last edited by TallPaul; 08-09-2020 at 21:29.

  2. #2

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    Great trip report as always. I've done that section a few times and it is nice, but definitely has a lot of water crossings. At least you got soaked in warmer weather.

  3. #3
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    Good stuff! Wilson Creek is an area I'd like to explore more in the future. Done a fair amount of car camping/trout fishing there but very little backpacking.

    I assume your trip was done recently, how hot was the hiking? I know a lot of that area is at relatively low elevation.

  4. #4
    Moderator TallPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dvankirk View Post
    Great trip report as always. I've done that section a few times and it is nice, but definitely has a lot of water crossings. At least you got soaked in warmer weather.
    I can see myself doing this one again. Lots to see and do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Layne View Post
    Good stuff! Wilson Creek is an area I'd like to explore more in the future. Done a fair amount of car camping/trout fishing there but very little backpacking.

    I assume your trip was done recently, how hot was the hiking? I know a lot of that area is at relatively low elevation.
    Thanks Layne. Lows were around 65-67 and high in the upper 70s. Got up to 81 but then storm dropped it 15 degrees. Humidity had everything wet - I had trouble using my phone cause it was tough to keep the screen and my fingers dry.

  5. #5
    ObdewlaX's Avatar
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    Great trail report & pics! I hate it when you lose gear on the trail... it always seems to be something that you wind up needing! Lost my Golite umbrella last year on a trip & never did find it.

    I'd like to get over that way for a trip or two one of these days. Did a lot of hikes in the Cohutta Wilderness Area in my youth but not much up that way, although my dad & I did some hiking around Standing Indian area on the AT many moons ago.

  6. #6
    Moderator TallPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Layne View Post
    Good stuff! Wilson Creek is an area I'd like to explore more in the future. Done a fair amount of car camping/trout fishing there but very little backpacking.

    I assume your trip was done recently, how hot was the hiking? I know a lot of that area is at relatively low elevation.
    Hey.. also wanted to say thanks for mentioning the Wilson Creek Avenza map recently to somebody (Reddit maybe). I kinda forget there is a counterpart to the Linville Gorge maps so your post was timely to remind me.

  7. #7
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    Thank you for another trail report. You hikes are inspirational and provide guidance for future opportunities. Much appreciated and I hope you continue with them in the future.

  8. #8
    all secure in sector 7 Shug's Avatar
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    Enjoyed your soggy briefing TallPaul. I could feel the NC humidity on me like a wet wool blanket.
    Need to check that area out.
    Shug
    ShugArt Hammock Paintings....https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShugArtStu...t_trust_header

    Whooooo Buddy)))) All Secure in Sector Seven

  9. #9
    Senior Member Syb's Avatar
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    This was a fantastic read. Thanks for the link to the MST. I'm relocating to the Charlotte area in about a month and that site will be a great resource.

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
    Syb
    Enjoy the elevation

  10. #10
    Moderator TallPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtdums View Post
    Thank you for another trail report. You hikes are inspirational and provide guidance for future opportunities. Much appreciated and I hope you continue with them in the future.
    Thanks jtdums - I try to give back as others have given before me. I remember reading reports from JustJeff and they helped me a lot when I stayed out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shug View Post
    Enjoyed your soggy briefing TallPaul. I could feel the NC humidity on me like a wet wool blanket.
    Need to check that area out.
    Shug
    Itís a fun un and lots of options for loops or longer one way trips. Rain felt good after all that humidity.
    Quote Originally Posted by Syb View Post
    This was a fantastic read. Thanks for the link to the MST. I'm relocating to the Charlotte area in about a month and that site will be a great resource.

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
    Good deal. Yates Place hang is coming up - just east of Charlotte about an hour. Good place to get to know the locals.

    And hereís a starter pack of info for ya:


    Waterfalls - http://www.ncwaterfalls.com

    Linville Gorge / Wilson Creek - maps and forum
    http://www.lgmaps.org/?page_id=10
    http://linvillegorge.net

    Book: Backpacking North Carolina: The Definitive Guide to 43 Can't-Miss Trips from Mountains to Sea

    Hike WNC
    https://www.hikewnc.info

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