Great family hike.
Two outstanding waterfalls. Hike along the banks of the Elk River and on the Appalachian Trail.
Easy to Moderate.
From Elizabethton, take 19E south, and continue on through the town of Roan Mountain and into North Carolina. Just before getting into the community of Elk Park, turn left onto Old Mill Road (there’s a black sign there for Elk Falls, but it’s hard to read). Go about .25 mile on Old Mill Road, and then take a left onto Elk River Road. Follow it for four miles into the Pisgah National Forest (when it turns to gravel), to a parking lot at the end of the road.
Once parked, begin on the yellow-blazed trail… at the steps with the wooden hand-rail. Follow this trail for approximately 0.2 miles to view Elk Falls from the base. Then return back up the trail toward the parking area, and then get on the forest road (normally gated) and take it heading in the downstream direction. Hike on this road until it ends (or fords) at the river. At the point where the road ends, there is a grassy meadow on your left. Continue walking through this meadow (still heading downstream), and at the end of the meadow you will see a faint trail near the river, continuing downstream. Follow this trail, which is right on the bank of the river. Once the river takes a sharp turn to the right, you will leave the bank and the trail goes left into the forest. Almost immediately you will see a stream, which you will have to cross. After crossing the stream you will immediately begin a steep climb. The trail here is still unmarked, but it should be easily visible. In about a 0.1 mile climb, you will come to a trail junction with a flat rock (good to sit and rest on). This junction is the Appalachian Trail (white blazed). Take a left on the Appalachian Trail, and follow it for approximately 0.5 mile until you see a blue-blazed trail and a small sign indicating Jones Falls. Follow this blue-blazed trail for another 0.1 mile to come to the waterfall.
Gear & Tips:
Standard Day-hiking gear. Trekking poles help with the steep banks at Elk Falls, and exploring the upper tier of Jones Falls.
Approximately 3.6 miles round-trip
Out & Back.
2.0 – Some mountain views along the river.
Rating (based on a 1-50 scale):
Elk Falls: H(5) + F(9) + V(5) + W(3) + G(3+2+6) = 33
Jones Falls: H(10) + F(4) + V(4) + W(3) + G(3+4+8) = 36
Two… One (easy) and One (moderate)
Slippery slopes and steep areas. As with almost all waterfalls, take caution when exploring around the falls. Many people have died while swimming and jumping from Elk Falls.
Download GPS Track and Waypoints here! (.gpx format… Right click on link and chose “Save Target As”) –
Information: Alternate Trail Following the River (instead of using the road). See directions at the bottom of the page.