Wilson Creek

Wilson Creek

Not enough that one of the High Country’s two Wild & Scenic Rivers (the New River is the other) rushes off Grandfather Mountain to offer spectacular scenery, fishing and river running, or that the surrounding Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest entails wilderness, waterfalls, Brown Mountain, Lost Cove, Harper Creek, Table Rock, Lake James and Linville Gorge. Then they had to go and build a state of the art Visitor’s Center with special activities and events all summer long.

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Welcome to Wilson Creek!

A little wild and out of the way, but way out of the ordinary, this recreation mecca just south of Avery County will make a worthwhile trip for the camper, fisherman, mountain biker, birder, hiker or family that wants to enjoy some of the most beautiful outdoors anywhere.

Wilson Creek starts its journey in headwaters below Calloway Peak (and over 5,000 feet) on The Grandfather, then flows over 23 miles, and down 3,000 feet, to the John’s River in Caldwell County; 4.6 miles are classified as Wild and 2.9 as Scenic. Both designations help protect those sections of the river from development while allowing full public access.

The federal designation was put into place in 2000, starting a visitation boom that prompted the Caldwell County Commissioners to purchase over six acres along the creek and find funding through the North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust and North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund for an indoor facility.

That building, the Wilson Creek Visitor Center, opened in October, 2002 and has been a huge hit ever since, as an informational center, arts and crafts center, community meeting place, one of the finest pickin’ porches anywhere, and easy access to the river.

Each Saturday from May through August special events from the annual photo exhibit and contest to craft making and nature identification will be held; further events may be planned for later into the summer and fall.

The center is open from 10:00 to 6:00 p.m. from June 1 through August 31; then from September 1 through November 30 from 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. The U.S. Forest Service is preparing a Comprehensive Management Plan in the Wild & Scenic River area for the “protection and enhancement of the corridor.” Also, a group called Friends of Wilson Creek has been formed to promote and protect the river and area.

For information regarding hiking, camping, wilderness rules, hunting, fishing and other uses in the public lands surrounding the area contact the Grandfather District office of the U.S. Forest Service in Nebo at 828-652-2144; for events, directions, and information on Friends of Wilson Creek, call the Wilson Creek Visitor’s Center at 828-759-0005 or the Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce at 828-726-0616.

Wilson Creek Trails:

Proposed Wilderness area in Pisgah National Forest:

The Wilson Creek Proposed Wilderness area, composed of Lost Cove Ridge and the Harper's Creek Area, borders the Blue Ridge Parkway in Avery County. Twenty-five miles of primitive wilderness trails offer excellent hiking and backpacking opportunities for travelers in this little-known, out of the way (but only about 45 minutes from Boone!) wilderness area. Call Pisgah National Forest at 828-682-2144 for details. Maps available through the Pisgah office or area outfitters. The following are a few of the trails offered in this area:

Huntfish Falls:

Moderately strenuous, 1.4 mile roundtrip descends steeply to a big pool beneath a 10 ft. falls. Starts on forest service road 464.

Lost Cove Trail:

This moderate 6 mile roundtrip starts at Huntfish Falls (see above) and follows Lost Cove Creek for 3 miles.

Big Lost Cove Cliffs Trail:

Easy 3 mile roundtrip starts on forest service road (FSR) 464. Offers excellent view of Grandfather Mountain.

Wilson Creek Trail/Wilson Creek Access/White Rocks Trail:

These three trails combine to create an 8.8 mile, moderate to strenuous outing. Offers remote outdoors with fishing, abundant wildlife and rugged terrain.

Harper Creek Trail:

Strenuous 6.3 mile trail, connects to 9 other area trails, leading to gorgeous waterfalls, aspiring views, and excellent backpacking opportunities.

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