Waterfalls of Gragg Prong (3-25-17)
Prior to this little trek I had definitely heard of the cascades of Gragg Prong but in no way had they grabbed my attention as a "must-see" hiking destination. I'm here to tell you...I had been missing out...this is one of the finest short waterfall hikes in North Carolina. No lie. If you're willing to invest a bit over three miles of walking, all of which requires remarkably little elevation gain to overcome, you'll be treated to two fantastic small cascades and one that cannot be described any other way than majestic.
I finally made plans to visit Gragg Prong as part of my final efforts to complete the Carolina Mountain Club's Waterfall 100 Challenge. Buried about as deep inside the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah as one can get by car, the trailhead is located at the Roseboro Road (F.R. 1511) crossing of Gragg Prong. Accessed by either the Blue Ridge Parkway to the north or the Brown Mountain area to the south, the starting point requires a long, bumpy ride off-pavement. Don't let that deter you though, the area sees enough traffic to keep the roads open and in decent enough shape. Once at the parking area the trail you need to pick up to see the falls, the Lost Cove Trail, starts a short distance downstream from north side of the bridge at the aforementioned crossing. It should be noted that the Mountains-to-Sea Trail coincides with the Lost Cove Trail here also so don't be confused by side-by-side blue and white blazes. The trail is wide and easy to follow. As I mentioned above there's very little elevation to overcome, the only potential difficulty comes in the form of the three fords you'll need to cross along the way. During normal flows you should be able to make these crossings with a minimum amount of rock-hopping skill. If the water is up though, these crossings will quickly become wades so keep that in mind.
There are three major cascades here...Upper Gragg Prong, Gragg Prong, and (confusingly) Middle Gragg Prong Falls. Like a good trilogy ought, the spectacle builds with each consecutive one you see. The Upper Falls is perhaps the least remarkable, only about 15-feet in height, but the ledges up and downstream provide a wonderful setting. Gragg Prong Falls (the middle falls, though not named as such) is slightly taller (20') and surrounded by ledges slightly larger than its predecessor. Everything comes to a rushing crescendo, however, at the Middle Falls. A combination drop-and-long-slide, the Middle Falls is the better part of 100-feet in height and is a wonder to behold. It's a magnificent trio...and you get it all for three miles round-trip...quite a waterfall bargain don't you think?
So without further adieu I'll let you get to the album. Unfortunately, there was a bit more sunshine on this day than I would have liked, to get truly great shots of the falls, but I think it'll give you a good introduction anyway to this amazing little area. As always...ENJOY!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.031902, -81.803651
Mileage Hiked: 3.3 miles Hike Duration: 1:45
Trailhead Temp: 60'F Trail Traffic: 10-25 people
Min. Elevation: 1,850' Max. Elevation: 2,150'
Total Vertical Gain: 400' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 121'
Trails Used (blaze color): Mountains-to-Sea/Lost Cove (white)