Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wilson Creek - Gragg Prong Falls


On Father's Day we took a trip to the Lost Cove Section of the Wilson Creek National Scenic River and visited another great swimming hole - Gragg Prong Falls.

The Gragg Prong Creek begins at the foot of Grandfather Mountain in the Beacon Ridge Section and flows down the mountain to Wilson Creek. Along the way creating many spectacular water falls, rapids and verdure. 

Getting there is not easy.  If you are hiking in the Wilson Creek area, purchase a map, not so much for the trail but to find the trail head!  To get to Trail 262 (Timber Ridge Loop) and Trail 440(Mountain to Sea Trail), you first have to find Forest Road 519 off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is just north of MP 308, a gravel mountain road that takes you to Roseboro.  You know you are in Roseboro when the road widens and you see this little private chapel on the ridge. 
Just south of Roseboro, Forest Road 519 merges with Forest Road 981 and you see a one lane bridge.  There is a parking area on each side of the bridge and from this point you can pick up the white blazed MST.  The sign says 3.8 miles to FR 464 which is the trail head for Huntfish you are just three miles from Huntfish Falls and 1.25 miles from the Upper Gragg Prong Falls, 1.5 miles from the Lower Gragg Prong Falls.

The trail generally follows the Gragg Prong Creek as it flows south, eventually intersecting with the Lost Cove Creek. It is a really nice trail, the forest walk only interrupted by the four creek crossings which will soak your boots, but on a hot day is welcome relief. 

Along the trail we were treated with the new blooms of Rhododendrons.   

The trail seems to end but only if you have not observed that the trail picks up on the other side of the creek.... the fourth creek crossing is just above the falls.  
The Upper Gragg Prong Falls is one great swimming hole.  Above the falls is a shallow pool.  The falls are made up of two cascades. The upper cascade pours into a jacuzzi size pool over six feet deep.  The lower cascades creates several nice slides into a waist deep pool....which eventually pours into a swimming pool size pond. 
On this warm summer day, there were several folks enjoying the cold mountain water and sunning themselves on the rock face.  I enjoyed watching the young folks demostrate their agility by walking the rock ledge between the jacuzzi pool and the lower cascade.  Oh youth is so wasted on the youth!

We left the young folks playing in the falls and lumbered down the trail hoping to find the Lower Gragg Prong Falls but before we could we found the Middle Gragg Prong Rapids.

Not far from the rapids the trail takes a steep turn. To the right is a trail out to the rock face of the Lower Gragg Prong Falls.  

These falls are several stories high and flow down the rock face to a widening creek below.  

There is no trail to the base of the falls but I guess you could climb down the sloping rock face, the climb back would be brutal. 

Leaving the Lower Falls, I spied a nice small waterfall upstream. There are wonderful creek scenes everywhere you look!

Returning to the Upper Falls, the Fat Bald White Guy found himself hot and tired.  When you are hot and tired and have available a natural cold water jacuzzi just off the trail, what you gonna do?!   

Well I jumped into the cold mountain stream....and did it ever feel good.  The pool was over six feet deep and was stirred by the rapid flow of the upper cascade.  No man could have created a better jacuzzi !   
Before we left I lounged on the rock face chatting with a nice young man from Johnson City, Tennessee who was visiting the falls with his father whom you see in the picture below with his feet in the upper pool.  
Not long after this picture is taken, the old gentleman got up and stood right in front of me with his back to the pool and proceeded to execute the best back flip I have seen since Carl Edwards won the Coca Cola 600!!

Leaving the Gragg Prong Falls, we trudged up the trail, getting our feet wet fording two of the four creek crossings.  We paused several times to enjoy the flowers on the trail and checked out one creek beach.  The scene there was the best of the day.

What a great hike!  Access is tough without a map...and even then not easy to find....6...the trails are well marked and maintained 8....the scenery is a solid 9...the effort to view ratio leans to an easy hike for a great view....but the real key to this hike is the swimming hole!....overall a solid 8 hike.
While we accessed the trail head from the Blue Ridge Parkway through Roseboro on FR 519, I think the best way to reach it is from the Wilson Creek access via NC 90 and FR 381.  If you go that way, be sure to stop and take a look at one of the remnants of the Edgemont Community, the Edgemont Baptist Church.


  1. Nicely done! It is indeed a beautiful and awe inspiring area. Just a note the area and church mentioned at the end is actually Edgemont. Keep hiking and photographing! Thanks, Sammy

    1. thanks...made the correction.....Wilson Creek is a special place...hope to visit again this summer FBWG