August 25, 2016
Chestnut Creek forms at the base of Devil’s Courthouse on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). Flowing south, the creek eventually joins Courthouse Creek and flows over Courthouse Falls.
I took a day off from work and Alice, Emily and I traveled from on Hwy. 215 south toward Rosman. Several miles after passing the BRP, we turned left onto F.S. 140. For 3 miles we travel on a rough road and beside Courthouse Creek. On the right, before Courthouse Falls was our parking spot at F.S. 5031.
This trip was very similar to one of my favorite hikes from 2015 to Farlow Gap. Ironically enough, Alice was on that hike as well, only in utero.
We hiked past the gate and were surprised to see a white truck. Inside having lunch was a young Forest Service employee. We said hello and exchanged pleasantries before starting the hike.
The hike itself is very easy and consists of a fairly even forest road walk. After 1.25 miles we came to the bifurcation between F.S. 5031 and F.S. 5033. On the map we saw that there was a site designated “falls”, but could not find what falls they were. We started to hike down F.S. 5033 to search it out and heard the sound of a truck behind us.
It was the same Forest Service employee we had just seen. We told him about our search for the falls and he was surprised to hear that falls were so close. He asked if he could hike with us. He had an awesome story of studying and working in Montana, working for the U.S.D.A. in Missouri.
He explained that he was with the Forest Service as part of a logging division. Whenever I hear someone say “logging crew” I assume that means clear-cutting. He was intelligent and well spoken in explaining that at one point this area was populated mainly by short leaf pines. He said the landscape looked so different than it did today. What the F.S. wanted to accomplish now was reducing the trees, but selectively as to propagate the pines once again.
Just past the split, we saw a short descent down the hill. It looked steep, so Emily decided to stay at the road with Alice, while we explored. The falls were in a neat spot, nestled in a cove with a Tolkien-like feels to the rocks and trees and moss.
We decided to hike out and our new friend had to get back to work. As we were walking, we saw another path just before the split. Emily and I ventured down and sure enough, it was a path to the same falls. This was not steep, but level and easy to walk.
Chestnut Creek Falls is a great destination for a family hike.
Total mileage is 2.5 miles.