Friday, October 23, 2015

October 19, 2015 - Day 1 Camping at Mortimer Campground - waterfalls on Phillips Branch

Cindy just finished her second book - Southern Appalachian Day Hikes - North Carolina Blue Ridge Parkway Edition and is ready to get started on her 3rd which will be day hikes in the Grandfather Ranger District of the Pisgah.  The Wilson Creek area is in this district, so that's where we headed for a few days of car camping.  We had considered Linville Falls Campground again, but decided to take a chance on the small Pisgah campground in Mortimer.

Mortimer Campground is located on SR90 a very short distance from where SR1328 dead ends into SR90.  I have more info on how to get to the area in the Wilson Creek section of my web site.  Camp sites are first come only (no reservations), so you take a chance when you head that way that the campground won't be full.  But this little campground has hot showers, and Linville doesn't.  I had stayed here years ago and it was a nice campground at the time.  There's not much info online about it and the info varies quite a bit.  Several years ago, some of the individual sites were closed because of potential flooding.  The campground now has 15 sites with one of those sites being for a small group of campers.  The fee is $10 per night ($20 for the group camp spot) and the campground still does have 2 men and 2 women hot shower stalls and flush toilets.

We got to the campground about mid day and didn't have a problem finding a site.  Only 3 other sites were taken and the camp host later said that there are usually sites available during the week, but the campground usually fills up on the week ends.  After setting up camp, we decided to go ahead and eat the big meal of the day before heading out on a hike.

Our first hike of the trip was the Phillips Branch Trail (#252).  There's a waterfall along this trail that we had been to back in January 2011, but Cindy is including the entire trail in her book. I have the hike to the waterfall on this page of my site, but haven't updated it yet with this latest info.  The main waterfall is about 1/2 a mile up the trail.  Neither one of us remembered the view from the trail being this good, so Cindy wondered if maybe some trees had fallen or had been cut.  The waterfall is about 30-40' high and is very nice with good flow.  If you are in the area, it's worth a stop.

waterfall on Phillips Branch

From here, the trail continues up towards the top of the falls, but is a little hard to follow.  We noticed a ribbon on a tree indicating the trail heading a little right before bearing back to the left and up.  It's more of a goat trail at this point and really needs some work.  Once past this sketchy area, the trail leads to a nice safe rocky area at the top of the waterfall.  There's another small waterfall up here also.

top of the waterfall
small waterfall above the main falls

The trail then crosses at the top of the main falls, continues up and passes another 10' waterfall before crossing the creek again.
small waterfall on Phillips Branch
The trail continues to follow Phillips Branch up a ways, then follows a tributary of Phillips Branch before reaching an unmarked intersection with the Pine Ridge Trail (#255).  There's not much point of going this far unless you intend to use 255 to reach another destination. Here's a video of the waterfalls -

We didn't get back to the camp site until about 6:30 and by then it was beginning to get dark.  Night time temps were supposed to get in the low 30's, so I got a fire started, Cindy fixed us a snack and we started planning tomorrow's hike.

us around the campfire


  1. Congrats to Cindy on the new book!! Wondering if that same hiker dude shows up in photos in this second volume ... :) That campsite shot at night is great!

  2. Margaret - I decided to give the "hiker dude" aka "unknown hiker" a name this time. He deserved it for being my bodyguard on a lot of the hikes - the duties consisted of ensuring "Stumble-ina" came out alive and he succeeded. :)