Trails in the Wilson Creek Area Trailhead Area

Here is a list of trails in the Wilson Creek Area Trailhead area. For more information and a map (where available), click the trail name.

Big Lost Cove Cliffs

More Difficult, 1.2mi, Hilly, Some Obstacles

USGS/USFS Number: 271

Ascends moderately through mixed hardwoods and then runs slightly downhill along the crest of the ridge on an old logging road. It descends steeply for a brief stretch into the flats right above the cliffs, in an open oak forest. There are a couple of old logging roads that diverge here; keep left at a couple of faint intersections to reach a fantastic viewpoint at the top of the cliffs. Grandfather Mountain looms in the background above Lost Cove. Stay back from the edge and don't trample the moss that grows between the rocks.


Most Difficult, 5.7mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough

Blaze Color: Blue
USGS/USFS Number: 268

Harper Creek

Most Difficult, 6.0mi, Hilly, Very Rough

Blaze Color: Orange
USGS/USFS Number: 260

Although this trail is listed as "easy" in some publications, that's not really the case. It doesn't climb much overall, but the multiple creek crossings, sparse blazes, and wilderness character make the hike along this trail take its toll.

Starting from the parking area on Brown Mountain Beach Road, the trail winds up some poorly-constructed switchbacks onto an eroded old road bed. The trail then merges with a less-eroded old road at the top of the climb, in a gap. There is an intersection with the Yellow Buck trail; continue straight, downhill. The trail is relatively easy going forward, except for a few places where erosion has made it a steep drop-off into the creek. The trail passes through a campsite as it approaches creek level, and then angles right, uphill.

From here, the path is co-signed as the Mountains to Sea Trail. Again, it follows an old roadbed with some washouts leading all the way down to the creek - these can be tricky to navigate. The trail veers uphill to the right again as it nears Harper Creek Falls. (Continue straight on the old road bed to reach the falls, requiring a steep rope-assist scramble to get to the base). After climbing past the falls, the trail follows the creek upstream on the right side to the intersection with the North Harper Creek Trail. The Mountains to Sea Trail leaves along that path.

The Harper Creek trail crosses the creek, and then proceeds to do so several more times as it goes up toward South Harper Creek Falls. This section of trail is remote and it can be difficult to follow at times, especially at creek crossings. As it approaches the base of the falls, it heads uphill on some switchbacks. There is an intersection with a side path connecting to the Raider Camp trail. The Harper Creek trail then climbs up past the settlement of Kawana before ending on Kawana Road.

Harper Creek - Raider Camp Connector

More Difficult, , Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

Blaze Color: No blaze

Great connector trail, but rarely used and very overgrown. It represents the only way to not trespass and connect from the top of Raider Camp over to the Harper Creek trail.

Holly Springs

More Difficult, 1.9mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 273

Beginning milepost is from FSR 986 and joins the end of FSR 4099.

Hunt-Fish Falls

Moderate, 0.8mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

Blaze Color: White / Yellow
USGS/USFS Number: 263

This trail is a co-signed as a portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail and takes you to a popular, yet small, waterfall on Lost Cove Creek.

From the well signed trailhead on FR 464, the trail descends moderately through a few switchbacks and then follows a tributary branch downstream partway and crosses it once on a stone bridge. The rich forest has a thick understory of mountain laurel and rhododendron from top to bottom. The trail swings away from the branch as it drops out of its hanging valley, then makes another switchback before coming out right at the top of Hunt-Fish Falls, a two-part, 6-8 foot drop. The trail continues to the middle and bottom of the falls, where a huge pool makes a popular swimming hole in the summer. The tributary branch drops over its own 50' falls and spills across the trail into the middle of Hunt-Fish. Lost Cove Creek is scenic at this point with a humongous boulder sitting at the top of the falls. The Mountains to Sea Trail continues past the falls downstream.

Little Lost Cove Cliffs

Moderate, 1.3mi, Hilly, Some Obstacles

Blaze Color: Orange
USGS/USFS Number: 271A

A nice trail leads to the eponymous rock outcrop from which a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains with Grandfather Mountain at the top unfolds. Most of the trail follows old road or skid road beds; it is moderately rocky in places but generally in good shape. The highest point on the trail has a few side paths over to the cliffs; be sure to explore them all. Use caution at the cliffs, especially with children - there is plenty of flat rock to hang out on safely, but keep away from the edge. Climbers use this area frequently as well. Highly recommended especially in fall. Each end connects to FS 464; the lower end connects at the same spot as North Harper Creek Falls trail so you could combine a hike to the cliffs with one to the falls or make a loop using the N. Harper Creek trail and FS 464.

Lost Cove

Most Difficult, 6.8mi, Hilly, Very Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 262

Lower Steels Creek

Most Difficult, 2.9mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 238

North Harper Creek

Most Difficult, 4.5mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough

Blaze Color: Blue
USGS/USFS Number: 266

Climbs from the Harper Creek Trail above Harper Creek Falls, past Bard Falls and North Harper Creek Falls, ending on Kawana Road. Several creek crossings and a wilderness setting add to the difficulty of this trail, which would otherwise be rated as moderate.

North Harper Creek Falls

More Difficult, 1.3mi, Climbs Steeply, Moderately Rough

Blaze Color: Yellow
USGS/USFS Number: 239

75% of this trail is in great shape; travels along an old roadbed through beautiful woods with few obstacles. Judging by the size of the trees growing on the roadbed, it's been here a while. The last little bit turns into a true foot path and is a bit rougher. Ends at the intersection with the blue-blazed North Harper Creek trail; to get the rest of the way to the falls, turn left and go down a steep portion of that path. The steep part comes out at the top of a smaller sliding cascade called Chestnut Cove Branch Falls. Turn right onto an un-named but obvious path, which comes to a creek crossing. Go upstream on either side of the creek about 100' to the falls.

North Harper Shortcut

Moderate, 1mi, Climbs Moderately, Some Obstacles

USGS/USFS Number: 266A

Shortcut from FS 464 down to a beautiful section of the North Harper Creek trail about a half mile above Bard Falls. Easiest way to the falls, and a pleasant trail itself. Well constructed path winds in and out of the coves as it gently descends.

Persimmon Ridge

More Difficult, 2.7mi, Hilly, Moderately Rough

Blaze Color: Yellow
USGS/USFS Number: 270

Phillips Branch

Most Difficult, 1.9mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 278

Raider Camp

Most Difficult, 2.8mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough

Blaze Color: Yellow
USGS/USFS Number: 277

Follows an old road bed up Raider Camp Creek from the campsite below Harper Creek Falls. Deeply eroded in places. Bypasses a section of the old road on a singletrack trail. Ends near the Kawana settlement above South Harper Creek Falls.

Thorps Creek

Most Difficult, 4.5mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 279

Starts at the back of the Mortimer Campground and loops back. Passes Thorps Creek Falls - a small 15' cascade and slide into a nice pool - near the bottom. Follows the same path as Schoolhouse Ridge for a short distance.

Timber Ridge

More Difficult, 1.5mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 261

Upper Creek Falls

More Difficult, 1.6mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 268B

Loop trail; from the parking lot going clockwise, it switchbacks down to the creek just above the top of the falls and crosses. Be careful here; it will be impossible during high water. The trail then descends alongside the falls with a few views of it, then crosses again below the bottom of the falls. It's a beautiful waterfall, but difficult to see all of it from one spot. The trail then climbs back up through more switchbacks, going under a large, neat rock overhang at one point.

Upper Steels Creek

Most Difficult, 2.9mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 237

Wilson Creek

Most Difficult, 6.6mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 258

Follows Wilson Creek from NC Hwy. 90 north of Edgemont to FR 192.

Wilson Ridge

Most Difficult, 14.7mi, Climbs Moderately, Moderately Rough

USGS/USFS Number: 269

Unmaintained series of old logging roads and newer gravel and dirt roads, with some singletrack sections thrown in for good measure.

Yellow Buck

Most Difficult, 2.1mi, Climbs Steeply, Very Rough

Blaze Color: Red
USGS/USFS Number: 265

Follows an old logging road, moderately at first and then steeply, up Yellow Buck Mountain, through a pine and oak forest.

Related Pages

Wilson Creek Area