Wilson Creek is a wonderful gem of wilderness. Today we set out to find two waterfalls on the North Harper Creek Trail...and saw but two other hikers on the trail all day...my kind of place!The trail is a former roadbed eroded over time to a wide path through the woods down to the creek. The trail is #239 on you handy Wilson Creek Map and can be a bit confusing when you get to the creek.
We were greeted by blooming Summer White Rhododendrons sprinkled all along the trail. These late blooming rhodies are always a treat to find on a hot summer trail and today was no exception.
Trail #239 is a 1.3 mile gently sloping trail which intersects with Trail #266 which is the North Harper Creek Trail that runs the length of North Harper Creek, portions of which are an old logging railroad bed. Where #239 intersects there are many red flags to designate the blue blazed North Harper Creek Trail. I assumed #239 ended here....I was wrong...but none the less dutifully followed the blue blazed North Harper Creek trail...what I should have done was keep going straight down to the creek...the hike would have been shorter but we would not have discovered a nice secluded waterfall!
All along the trail we got glimpses of the creek but aside from the occasional creek crossing we could only hear the roar of the creek as the trail is a ridge trail above the creek bed. We encountered a couple and asked how far to the falls...."What falls?" Uh oh...we checked our map and our GPS still convinced that there was a waterfall ahead...and turns out there was one!
Just up the hill from the creek crossing we found the familiar roar of a water fall some fifty feet below the trail....and off we went finding a secluded waterfall and accompanying rock beach...great place to rest our dawgs and grab a powerbar lunch.
We thought the waterfall was the Chestnut Grove Branch Falls....but truth is we really don't know the name of these "Secluded Falls". The Secluded Falls is a twenty-five foot emerald rock waterfall. The water flows into a small reflective pool, pausing before it flows down the mountainside.
Feeling the need to give thanks for the beauty of this day and the natural wonder before me, I constructed a small cairn, with each rock a separate prayer of thanksgiving.
Deciding that we missed the Chestnut Branch and the North Harper Creek Falls as we bypassed side trails, we decided to backtrack up the trail but this time taking the side trails to the creek. The first one we chose yielded spectacular results. We emerged from the trail on the top of the rock face of the North Harper Trail Falls.
Carefully walking down the rock face seemed the right thing to do. About halfway down I considered it safer to stop and take a picture looking back. I want to return when the water levels are up as this must be a nice scene.
Leaving the rock face top of the falls, we returned to the blue blazed North Harper Creek Trail attempting to find the bottom of the falls. We came to the intersection of Trail #239 and realized that at this point #239 did not stop but merged with North Harper Creek Trail. The map was right....imagine that ...and the Chestnut Branch Falls was just right ahead.
What we found did not look much like a major waterfall and again consulting the map and GPS I remained confused and decided to follow the creek downstream looking for a waterfall.
Turns out had we chosen to head upstream we would have found this wonderful waterfall, just a couple of hundred yards away....my bad...but thankfully others found the waterfall and took great pics.
The trip downstream was not without views...just lacking in waterfalls...but I did stop and take in this small beauty.
Great hiking...figure we took in over six miles...it was hot and we were tired but the unexpected flora seemed to help the disappointment in not finding the waterfall.
The trail if taken correctly is a moderate trail...all I had to do was walk from the trailhead to the creek and then take a side trail upstream...but because I didn't I found Secluded Falls and added about four miles of wonderful hiking to the trek.
Rating the trail is hard because the route I took and my failure to lay eyes on the North Harper Creek Falls...access is 7...way back in the Wilson Creek Natural Scenic River...off Forest Road 464...aka Pineola Road...we got there via Mortimer Road at Jonas Ridge....get a map; the trail is an 8...great trail well marked but at times confusing...scenery an 8...effort to view is about right....over all a solid 8 trail.