469 – North Harper Creek Falls

Accessibility – Moderate

Height – 40′

Distance – 2.2 (out and back)

Beauty – 6

Photo rating – 6

Solitude – 6

GPS Info: LAT 36.20707 LONG -81.87557

First visit: 03-23-2019

Most Recent Visit: 02-22-2020


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North Harper Creek Falls is a nearly vertical slide about 40 feet high on North Harper Creek. There is a trail the whole way to the falls but there are four creek crossings on the way, two are fairly easy and the other two more challenging. I have been here twice, the second time with snow on the ground and the trail was in good shape. It is easy to follow.

Trailhead Directions: There are a lot of ways to reach the trailhead, probably the easiest is to enter it into Google Maps. If not, from the intersection of NC183 and NC181, follow NC181 North for 0.8 of a mile and make a right onto Pittmans Gap Road. The name of the road will change several times before it reaches Mortimer Road in about a mile. Make a left (more stay straight). Follow Mortimer Road for 0.4 of a mile to a stop sign and make a right to stay on Mortimer Rd. Long Ridge Missionary Baptist Church is at the intersection. Mortimer road will split after about half  mile. Stay to the right onto Old Mortimer Rd. At 2.1 miles from the stop sign, make a right onto FR58. The trailhead is 0.25 of a mile on the left. It was marked on my visits as North Harper Creek Trailhead.

The hike: The North Harper Creel Trail drops down from the road right behind the sign and heads toward a crossing of small tributary before it angles toward North Harper Creek, which you will have to cross 0.25 of a mile into the hike. This is the easiest of the four crossings. The trail stays on river left for the next 0.40 of a mile, sometimes on a dirt path and other times over exposed rock. Use caution if the rocks are wet or you may end up in North Harper Creek or even breaking something.

At the 0.65 mark from the start of the hike you will come to the second creek crossing, taking you back to river right for short time. It is barely a tenth of a mile before the third and most difficult of the crossings if you want to keep your feet dry. I am always here in the cold weather but in the summer I would simply walk the creek as long as the flow is low. After the third crossing the creek goes into a sweeping turn but the trail continues straight and comes back to the creek at a split. Make a right at the trail split and follow this a few feet to the creek. In low flow this is an easy crossing but if the water is up you could easily get swept over North Harper Creek Falls.

The trail enters the woods on the river right side and heads away from the creek for a time before going into a hard left switchback. The trail will get steep as it descends to the base of the falls. Once you reach the open area, follow the trail back upstream to the base of the falls. If you want to continue to go here: Chestnut Cove Branch Falls.

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