Upper Creek Falls

Height: 50 feet
Trail Type: Dirt, rock, and wood
Hike Distance: 1.7 miles round trip
Difficulty: 9
Beauty: 9

Overview:

The first time I tried to visit Upper Creek Falls, I did the entire loop and failed to find the waterfall. I also went the wrong way 3 different times while on the trail. Needless to say, you need to pay attention here. Also, don’t be stupid – several people have died here.

If you are observant enough to find the waterfall, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful 50-foot drop with a nice, gushing slide. It’s certainly worth it.

Directions:

You could make the argument that this waterfall belongs more in the Marion/Morganton region, but this area is close to Linville Falls and all of the tourist attractions in Boone that i decided to put it here.

From the intersection of US 221 and NC 181 in Pineola, take NC 181 south for 7.5 miles to the gravel driveway on the left. There’s a decent sized parking area just up a small hill.

Hike Description:

This is a loop hike, and I’ve only done it clockwise. The trail divides Upper Falls into three sections, so follow the sign to the upper Upper Creek Falls. The trail starts fairly level before a switchback and making a fairly steep descent to the creek. The trail isn’t smooth, either. There are exposed roots and rocks everywhere.

Eventually you’ll come to the creek between the upper section (pictured below) and the brink of the main falls. Don’t get too close to the edge here or you will fall and die. If water levels are up, you’re going to get wet, but most times you should be able to navigate a rock hop to the other side.

The trail continues past a campsite and appears to leave the creek for a bit. You’ll see two side trails that appear to scramble down to the falls, but you should ignore these. Instead, follow the main trail to another switchback and make your way back to the creek.

After a few dozen yards, if you’re observant, you will come to what looks like a split in the trail. Go right and you’ll have a couple of opportunities to get out on the exposed rock of the creek and get close to the falls.

When you’re done, go straight at the original split, which will take you a little farther downstream to a lower section of the falls, which makes a short drop before squeezing into a shallow chute, as seen below.

You’ll have to cross the creek again here, which is trickier than the first crossing. The trail then ascends the ridge along at least 10 switchbacks. There are several side trails that look to spur off here, and if you’re not paying attention, you could wander off into the woods and get lost. Go slow and pay attention, and you’ll be fine.