Sunday, June 14, 2015

Wilson Creek - Huntfish Falls


We made our second visit of the summer to Wilson Creek.  This time we visited Huntfish Falls in the Lost Cove section.   There are two waterfalls to observe at one of the most beautiful swimming holes in the Wilson Creek basin.

Wilson Creek is a section of  Pisgah Forest and is a natural and scenic river.  The river begins on the slopes of Grandfather Mountain and flows into the St. John's River.  It is a very popular summer destination for families seeking a place to swim.  It contains some of the best camping and hiking locations in the area....that no one knows about.  I explained this more in my Harpers Creek Falls blog entry. 

The trail to the falls is only .7 mile long but it is very steep covering over 700 feet in elevation change. Getting there is not hard but be prepared for a long winding gravel forest road.


The trail down to the falls is wonderful hike through a forest. Rhododendrons were blooming.  

We soon came upon a mountain stream which we followed down the mountain side and enjoyed the company of the sounds of the flowing water. 

Huntfish Falls is a ten foot waterfall on Lost Cove Creek, connecting two nice pools.  The upper pool is great for wading but the lower pool is a wonderful swimming hole that is very popular.  On our visit there were nearly 20 people enjoying the cool dip on a hot and humid  day.  

The trail is leads between two falls.  We took our first rest break at the foot of another waterfall. This one is several stories high but is unfortunately shielded from view by green foliage.
We did not tarry long at Huntfish Falls as it was very hot and humid and since we began our hike later than normal, we had miles to go.  So off we went along the Huntfish Trail looking to connect with the Mountain to Sea trail on the way to Gragg Prong Falls.  About a half mile downstream from Huntfish Falls we came upon a large camping area and decided to rest our dogs in the cool stream and eat lunch.  

Refreshed we picked up the Mountain to Sea Trail and soon came upon one of the most amazing reflections I have ever seen.  Not sure the photographs really adequately capture the beauty of the moment.  

Not far from this reflection pool, we made our first of four expected stream crossings.  Sure am glad my Salewa Hiking shoes are waterproof.  
The trail on the other side of the stream rose to a small ridge beside the stream.  There were many great campsites. 

 The trail turned sharply left to follow the Gragg Prong Creek but before we took the turn we paused to take some pictures of the Lost Cove Creek.  

We had been following the Lost Cove Creeek downstream but as we followed the Gragg Prong trail we saw that we were now proceeding up stream.  In about a quarter mile we found our second stream crossing.

All along the trail we encountered various cairns scattered among the creek rocks. To us, each reminded us that this wonderful display of nature was the exquisite handiwork of an almighty God.

We waded into the creek and enjoyed the scenery but my Hiking Companion noted the lateness of the day and the 700 foot climb awaiting us.

We were nearly two miles into the trail and were at least two miles from our destination, so we decided to end the hike and return to Huntfish Falls.

We returned to Huntfish Falls and thankfully it was less crowded and I was able to take more pictures of this wonderful swimming hole.

At the edge of the swimming hole was one of the more unusual cairns I have seen.  I am not sure how this cairn was able to stand.

Being  late in the afternoon, we reluctantly decided to leave the falls.  The hike out was tough as we took in 700 feet in elevation in 7/10ths of a mile at the end of a four mile hike on a hot and humid day. If you go to Huntfish Falls don't forget the steep climb to get back to you car.

The hike was a great workout.  Access is only a 7 as you can't find this trail head without a map.  It is near the Mortimor Campground off NC 90  on Forest Road 464. The trail is well marked and maintained - 9; scenery is great - 9. Effort to get to the view is pretty easy....but the hike out is brutal. So effort to view ratio is pretty even.

Overall a solid 9 hike.  Great place to take a swim on a hot summer day.  We completed 4 miles on a humid summer day. We will return and tackle Gragg Prong Falls on another day.

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