A few months ago, Belle and I traveled up to Elkin to spend some time exploring the hiking trails. While we were there, our tour guides, Bob Hillyer and Jim Fisher, took us out to Carter Falls.
Hidden away on private land until 2018, Carter Falls is a 60-foot series of upper and lower falls and the newest public access waterfall in North Carolina. It is accessible by a mile-long loop located off Pleasant Ridge Road.
History of Carter Falls
Named after the Carter family, who owned a grist mill on Big Elkin Creek back in the 1700s, Carter Falls has helped fuel the Town of Elkin for generations.
In 1914, Carter Falls Power Company installed a 150-horsepower dynamo on a dam built by the Town of Elkin at the top of Carter Falls. The power plant featured a wooden flume that guided water to the bottom of the falls. The electricity generated was sent to Elkin via power lines. Signs of the old flume can still be seen along the banks of Big Elkin Creek.
Duke Power purchased the falls in 1924. The company held the property until the 1980s – when they sold it to Elkin attorney Dan Park. Park sold a portion of land, including the falls, to the state in 2018. The property is currently on a 40-year lease to Wilkes County.
The Future of the Falls & The Bridge of Dreams
Elkin Valley Trails Association has led the effort to connect Carter Falls to Elkin’s trail system and build the “Bridge of Dreams.” The suspension bridge will cross Big Elkin Creek, providing easy access to views of the larger waterfall.
Once the bridge is completed, a short trail will give visitors the chance to visit the nearby grave of William Harris. Harris served as a bodyguard for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. I was bummed we couldn’t see the gravesite from our side of the creek, but now I have a great excuse to go back!
How You Can Help Build the Bridge of Dreams
Donations for the Bridge of Dreams and trail maintenance may be made by sending a check for $10 per ribbon to EVTA Dream Ribbons, P.O. Box 91, Elkin, NC 28621. Online donations can be made at www.elkinvalleytrails.org.