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Gragg Prong Falls is the perfect place to beat the hot weather that rolls in during the late summer months in the High Country. It’s also a family-friendly place that offers an array of outdoor activities from hiking to fishing to camping to swimming.

Even though I’ve lived and hiked in the NC High Country for years, I’ve admittedly never visited Gragg Prong Falls along Wilson’s Creek.  So I was stoked when my friend Maureen (affectionately called “Mo”) suggested that we spend our Friday afternoon hiking and swimming along the river.

After a bumpy ride along a gravel road, Mo and I arrive at the trailhead.  Our plans are simple: hike as long as we feel like it and swim when we get hot.  The trail is well-marked and relatively even; only the occasional river crossing gives us pause, and I bemoan the fact that I’m wearing sneakers instead of amphibious shoes.

Above: Mo crossing river along trail

After about thirty minutes of trail grubbing, we arrive at Gragg Prong Falls.  I’m immediately impressed–water pours over smooth bedrock and killer swimming holes dip in and out of the silver rock face.

Above: Gragg Prong Falls

Above: awesome swimming hole at top of falls

Above: swimming hole at bottom of falls; also a campsite

After a few hours of swimming, Mo and I continue down the trail in the hopes that we’ll find an even better swimming hole.  We hike for another mile or so and along the way spot Appalachian-style cascading falls; unfortunately they’re inaccessible and since time is running short, we head back to Gragg Prong.  By the time we return the crowds have simmered down and we spend the rest of our evening dipping in and out of rocky pools and lying like lizards in the warm summer sun.

Hike it:  The Wilson’s Creek Area rests far below the house-ridden hills of Blowing Rock.  It’s a popular area for visitors during the high season, so it’s best to visit on a weekday if at all possible.  There are a multitude of campsites, swimming holes, and hiking trails, but before creating your itinerary, it’s best to check out the Visitor’s Center or to buy a good map from a local outfitter.

  • Length: Gragg Prong is roughly 3/4 mile from trailhead
  • Duration: 30-40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Hike Configuration: there and back
  • Blaze: White Circle (Mountains to Sea blaze)
  • Condition: Excellent, well-maintained
  • Trailhead: Small gravel parking area at bridge
  • Traffic: Heavy during high season
  • Directions: Getting to the trailhead is easy.  If you’re headed south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, turn left onto Roseboro Road in Linville, shortly after Beacon Heights around mile post 305.2.  (If headed north, Roseboro Rd. will be on your right, just before Beacon Heights.)

Once on Roseboro, drive until you see a bridge; the parking area and trailhead will be on your right.  For a map of the area, please visit the “trailheads” tab at the top of our blog page.

Additional Resources:  NC Waterfalls, Wilson’s Creek Area & Hike WNC

Entry by Lori Beth

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