Sherri Mcmurray, Lori Vogel and I.
Wilson’s Creek is a beautiful unspoiled area west of Lenoir NC. It’s very undeveloped and is primarily used for camping, hiking, kayaking and trout fishing. Mike and I went car camping up there in October and I’ve been wanting to go back. It’s very beautiful. Wilson’s Creek is a wild and scenic river.
To get to Wilson’s Creek you go through Morganton and then a tiny town called Collettesville NC. It’s a 6 mile narrow dirt road along Wilson’s Creek with beautiful rocky river all along the way.
After a couple miles is the visitors center then about 3 more miles till you come to Betsey’s ‘ol country store. It’s owned by a man named Bruce. He heads up the clean up of Wilson’s creek. He has events all year to raise money to keep the river clean.
At the store we make a left and follow this twisty tourney road for about 3 miles and make a left on another dirt road. We take this road about another 3 miles. It twists and turns and gets higher and higher with the passenger side looking straight down. Definitely a little scared of the drive. We drive till we get to the Hunt Fish Falls Trail Head.
This trail goes down about a mile to a trail intersection. Our plan is to do a 6.8 mile loop and return to this trail and go back up it to the car.
Not far down is a waterfalls on the hill and a waterfall in the creek. The one to the side is a tiered rock wall with water coming down it. It’s quite beautiful.
I found this pic on the internet.
This one is mine.
Then toward the river is the real Hunt Fish Falls. There is a guy fly fishing here.
We take the obligatory selfie. Pardon my giant face I just can’t master this simple thing!
We have to decide left or right. Our newbie Lori jumps right in and says right. So off we go!
The trail follows the river and goes up and down till we reach a clearing where there is the first campsite we see.
Then the trail goes back toward the side of the mountain but quickly comes back to the river and stops dead at our first challenge. Crossing the river. This is a beautiful spot with small river rocks, some sand, a swimming hole and a tiny ripple falls. We find that there is not a dry way to cross so off come the shoes and socks. Don’t forget it’s March 3!
Well that was fun! It was so cold our feet are red from the cold. Little did we know at the time that would be the easiest crossing!
We locate the trail and set off again. Somewhere in here there was a trail intersection for Timber Ridge trail that would cut our loop in half but we never see it. This trail is marked with brand new white blazes though.
We get to another river crossing and look high and low for a place to cross. This one has some rock crossings but each one has a gap to large to cross. This one is also way deeper in a lot of places. We spend a good 20 minutes contemplating how to cross. Sherri comes walking up with a huge plank of wood she found. It was super heavy and was a great idea but when I tried to place it between to rocks it was so heavy it crash landed in the water and got stuck.
Back to the drawing board. I ended up rock hopping across. The last rock was about 3 feet away. I took the jump and actually landed on it then slid down into the water and went in about knee deep. Now I’m on the other side and Sherri and Lori have to figure out how to cross.
Sherri attempts this one but it’s deep and she turns around.
They decide to go out as far as they can on rocks and take the plunge into the water for the last 4 feet which is about thigh high.
Now we are all on that side and we find the trail and head up to Gragg Prong Falls. The trail is getting kinda rough there are lots of blow downs. Sherri stops dead and this little guy is sunning himself on our trail!
We are all just looking at it. I would of stepped right on it. Sherri always notices tracks or animals. I get a picture of him then use my pole to flick him down the embankment so we can continue!
This is clearly an area less traveled by others. They had high winds this week so there are a lot of blow downs we have to deal with.
This is Lori going down crossing a blowdown! Girl is laughing so hard she can’t even get back up! I had to blow this pic up to get the full effect!
We continue down the trail which is super high and finally arrive at the top of Gragg Prong Falls. It’s truly a masterpiece of natural beauty. I wish my pictures would do it justice. I could of stayed here forever. We sat here at ate lunch.
One thing I love to take pictures of what I call “a tree can grow anywhere” right here on a lone rock in the river is a perfect example of that.
We check the map and see that it’s getting late and we have only gone a couple of miles of our 7 mile hike. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if we didn’t get moving and start doing a 20 minute mile we would be finishing in the dark! It also is impossible to do a 20 minute mile in this area! I got a little cell service and decide to do a check in just in case. We also wonder if we could find our trail when we finish the loop since there are no signs. We have mainly been hiking against the river so we figure we should be near the trail when we start going with the river. We start getting it fast as we can down the trail. We come to more blow downs which slow us down.
We talk about the next creek crossing we are going to have to plow through no matter what. It is literally taking us forever to hike these 7 miles just like this blog is getting very long! I don’t know what’s up with this area but time and distance seam to have a mind of its own here!
Next creek crossing the river is kinda kicking here. I plow across and Sherri goes next. There is one area that has swift moving water and a gap between rocks but she makes it across.
Lori goes next. As I said she is the newbie of our group and is wearing ordinary tennis shoes. She starts sliding down this rock she is holding on to and kinda jumps on it with a death grip! (Insert laughter here!)
She gets it together and we all get across and continue down the trail.
The next creek crossing is pretty easy and without hesitation we plow through it.
We finally come to an area where we can see a road. It’s about 3 o’clock and we have a good 4 miles to go. From here we can see a tent across the creek. The trail doesn’t cross the creek but I do! They follow me and I head up to the tent where a man and his 2 boys are camping right on the road. We ask him where we need to go and he is clearly no help. The map says to walk on the road a bit to find the trail. We start to do this and a car comes by and I flag it down to ask directions (actually hoping for a ride) they say they are heading north toward the Blue Ridge Parkway and say they have been fishing down by Betsy’s store. The guy in back is drinking beer and I decide not to ask for a ride. I notice I have some cell service. I check google to find out location. Then I decide to call Betseys store mainly because it’s the only thing I know to do and it’s rare to get cell service. I talk to Bruce the owner and ask if he will come rescue us for money. He said he will be there in 15 minutes. Hallelujah! We stand around near the guy camping for a while. No one came it is like 320 now. Lori and Sherri are getting desperate and decide to put their thumbs out.
Since not one single car has come by in the last 20 minutes this isn’t working well. 🤣🤣🤣🤣
We decide to start walking toward Betsy’s Store. GPS says it’s about 5 miles. Our feet are soaked and freezing from just standing here. Oh by the way the first fool we talked to said it was all downhill to the store. He must be laughing his ass off cause it was NOT!
We probably get about a mile when two ladies in a white pick up stop and ask if we need help. They said we clearly looked like we were in distress. 🙄
We get in and second later Bruce comes by in a white van. We get out of the ladies truck and into Bruce’s van. He came after us out of the goodness of his heart. His truck was in the shop so he had to drive this big van that doesn’t do so well on these crazy roads. Bruce is handicapped and in a wheel chair. He has a shoulder injury so only has one arm in use. But he came after us anyway! He decides to let his worker drive us to our car which is another 3 or 4 miles. She drives like a “moonshine runner” so yay off we go to our car! It’s about 4:30. We thank her offer her some money which she won’t take and we peel off the wet shoes and socks and head backdown toward the store. She is following. We get back to the store and I go in and offer Bruce some money. I don’t have any but Lori and Sherri each give $20. He says that’s too much but will put it in the creek clean up fund. We really really appreciated it. As I’m leaving she arrives back and says I would make a good moonshine runner to! I flew down that mountain. I said I’m just wanna go home!
From here it’s about 8 miles of dirt road back to civilization. Still a beautiful drive all along Wilson’s creek. We have no cell service so can’t GPS so I miss my turn just like I did last time I was here but I know this road ends up in Lenoir instead of Morganton but that’s ok! We finally make it back To my house at almost 8pm. Mike has smoked a turkey, made greens and biscuits mmmmm! Yay me.
Sherri says she is never going back to Wilson’s creek but she will! There are so many trails, views and waterfalls to see I know We will be back.
it was a very adventurous day. It really was fun and even better with great friends. I have to get a shout out to Lori she never lost her sense of humor or was bothered by anything! Maybe because she didn’t understand we weren’t going to finish in daylight or she just didn’t care!
I think Sherri and I are experienced enough to know how dangerous this trek could of been. Or maybe Lori didn’t see this sign. 🤦♀️