This is a three tier waterfall, and each falls has it’s own mechanism for descent. The first one you can slide down or jump off, the second you can climb halfway up with a rope and jump off (or, if your crazy-meter is significantly higher than mine, I have seen people jump and slide from the top) and the third is a moss covered, slow slide into a glorious swimming pool at the bottom.
Safety precautions – The hike in is approximately 1-1.5 miles. The climb down to the falls is physically challenging. Climbing back up after sliding or jumping off them is physically challenging. Rocks at the falls are slippery. I do not recommend diving into any of the pools for your safety (although the pools are quite deep). Walk on the moss at the falls, as it is less slippery than the wet, smooth rocks.
There’s a nice boulder in the middle to climb as well.
Swimming Hole Location
- Wilson Creek, Harper's Falls, North Carolina
- 35.98245135784044, -81.77956581115717
- Click for Driving Directions
- Bathing Suits:
- Special Directions:
- I40 to Morganton exit 105.
Turn right at bottom of exit ramp and head towards downtown.
Once in Downtown drive straight out of town on 181 (Green st.) The sign for 181 actually hangs above the street, but if you are looking for it's very obvious.
Continue on 181 for 10-15 miles. Road will gradually become very rural, you will be driving through a fantastic decorative tree farm.
Turn right onto Brown Mountain Beech Rd. White church on corner, road sign on left, again very obvious if you know where to look.
Follow Brown Mountain Beech Rd for maybe 5 miles, you will notice a sign that signals a county change on the right, soon after you will cross Wilson Creek. Take your first left directly after crossing bridge. I don't believe there is a street sign, but there is a small wooden sign that directs traffic to Mortimer on the far corner of the turn.
Road soon turns from paved to gravel as you enter the Wilson Creek Gorge area, pass several small country stores and the ranger/visitor center. Trail head is marked #260 and has a parking area. It's on the left hand side of the road, several miles in to the gorge.
The trail steeply ascends for a short distance to a ridge line. I think the blazes were orange. Continue on this trail for a short distance and pass a right turn for Trail #265. Keep going for maybe 10-15 minutes and pick up Harper Creek on your left. Keep going for about the same distance and come to the intersection of the Raider Camp Creek Trail #277. There's big primitive camping area here. Turn right here and continue up the Harper Creek Trail for about 10 minutes. The main trail breaks off to the right, keep left and you'll soon see the waterfalls.
Your cell phone will not work once you turn onto Brown Mountain Beech Rd.