We first spotted the sign for Upper Creek Falls on our way to Hawksbill Mountain and had to return and explore the area. Morganton is one of our absolutely favorite small towns in the state and we often find ourselves heading this way. It’s not only a short pleasant drive from Charlotte but has such wide variety of trails, it is so close to the Blue Ridge and the town itself is so charming that it’s no wonder why we love it so much.
We typically pack a picnic to take with us whenever heading to the mountains since there is always a scenic spot to sit and enjoy it. After discovering Mountain Burrito in town however, now that has changed. We now make a stop every time we find ourselves in the vicinity of Morganton and grab lunch there. If you are anything like us and like burritos and bowls this little hidden gem is a must. I promise you won’t regret it and would most likely just like us find any and every excuse to stop by and treat yourself.
The day we went to Upper Creek Falls we did just that. Grabbed lunch and than followed the NC Highway 181 to the spectacular Pisgah National Forest and to the entrance to the trail. Roads are windy although wide and you’ll be continuously climbing up before seeing the sign for the Falls on your right if coming from the town of Morganton.
The parking is located right before the entrance sign to your right. Follow the dirt road for a short bit. If you come on a weekend day the lot might be full especially during the warm summer days. That was the case when we visited so we had to find a safe spot to the side of the road just like many others we notice have done. A map of the trail is located near the beginning of the trail.
From the parking lot we fund ourselves with two options. We could go left or right since the trail is a loop. We decided to take the path to the left and I’m so glad we did. We hike with two small kids (6 and 9 at the time) and this hike is not for the faint of heart. It goes straight down and than straight back up following very well maintained large smooth path. Be watchful for the roots, slippery rocks and low branches along the way. Bring plenty of water and wear proper shoes.
We reached the wooden bridge after about 0.4 miles going downhill, climbed on the large boulders pass some people and were rewarded with the view of the Falls. I would have to say this might be one of our top 10 waterfalls in NC when it comes to size and beauty. It was splendid and so full even on this hot summer day, coming down crushing over the rock before filling the pool at the bottom perfectly framed by the greenery surrounding it.
The Falls appeared to be a popular spot for tourist and locals but don’t let this deter you from coming. There are plenty of spots for social distancing and everyone was very considerate, allowing personal space.
We found a good spot in the shade right by the water and let the kids splash, swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls, sled down them and even jump off the rope to the side of the waterfall. They spent hours going back and fourth, taking little water and snack breaks before returning to their water activities. We easily could’ve spend an entire day here but there was a long way back and we needed them to have some energy and be able to make it to the car.
The way back was not easy. Terrain is pretty difficult, there are several creek crossings and the last part is straight uphill. We took multiple breaks marveling at the many waterfalls along the way back and taking notes on where we can splash in next time we visit. We saw other groups of people sliding down the cascades we passed which looked equally as fun as the Upper Falls. If you come earlier and give yourself plenty time make sure to check them out as well.