A 600 acre park just off the Blue Ridge Parkway with a nice loop trail and waterfall.
At milepost 271.9 of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the E.B. Jeffress Park; a 600 acre site which is a memorial to the the late E.B. Jeffress. Mr. Jeffress was originally a newspaper publisher but was considered instrumental in the routing of the Blue Ridge Parkway though scenic North Carolina. This beautiful and inviting overlook, rest stop, waterfall and short hiking trail was created on a portion of the land he loved so much in an effort to honor the memory of E.B. Jeffress. A highlight of any visit to the park is the stunning Cascade Falls that sits just a little over 1/2 a mile off the park via a beautiful loop trail.
E.B. Jeffress Park is located at milepost 271.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway just a few miles east of Deep Gap North Carolina. It is easily spotted from the Blue Ridge Parkway and it has a large parking area. It is a very open area with numerous picnic tables available. There are also restroom facilities onsite. E.B. Jeffress Park is only 30 minutes from Wilkesboro North Carolina or about 30-45 minutes from the North Carolina mountain towns of Boone, Banner Elk, or Blowing Rock.
The Cascades trail is an easy 30 minute loop through the forest that centers on the Cascades waterfall of Falls Creek. The trailhead for this hike is well marked on the North side of the park. It is a beautiful hike and no visit to the park would be complete without visiting the falls.
The trail starts out paved initially but eventually becomes a wide and well maintained dirt path with a moderate elevation change near the waterfall. There are a number of plaques throughout the hike identifying the trees, plants and features of the forest. There are also a few benches throughout the hike.
As you start out you will encounter the return path of the loop that comes in from the left but you will want to stay straight along the path. From here it’s a nice walk through a covered forest of hardwoods and rhododendron as you approach falls creek.
As you near the creek, the path will start to descend but most of it is via stairs. After you cross the creek, the loop will continue to the left but you will want to take the short spur on the right that leads to two viewing areas of Cascade Falls.
The trail will go down a number of stairs to the first overlook of the Falls which is right at the start of the long cascade. It is a nice overlook as the water rushes down the mountain and disappears into the forest. Cascade Falls is very long and it is difficult, if not impossible, to get a complete view of the entire waterfall. However, the second overlook provides a better view of the falls.
An additional set of stairs down a narrow path will take you to the lower overlook. This overlook provides a much better view of the falls although you still can’t see the entire waterfall. Once again it disappears into the forest below continuing its way down the mountain. It is a beautiful site and well worth the hike.
Note that a number of accidents and deaths have occurred at the falls from people crossing the fences. As tempting as it may be to see more of the falls, don’t risk it. Stay safe and keep on the paths and overlooks.
When you have finished enjoying Cascade Falls, walk back up the stairs and rejoin the loop. When you encounter the split at the bridge, stay to the right as the loop parallels the creek for a bit. The Mountains to Sea trail will join up with the loop and borrow a piece of the trail.
The trail will cross back over the creek and continue to parallel it until you eventually complete the loop where you will keep right, to head back to the parking area.
On the south end of the parking area the Mountains to Sea trail continues to Tompkins Knob which is another great stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Tompkins knob has some historical buildings you can visit. You can drive there or hike the 6/10’s of a mile trail from the Jeffress Park parking area. For more information on this trail, please watch the HD Carolina episode on Tompkins Knob.