Blazing the Trail (Part 1)

rsz_carter_fallsGrowing up on the banks of the Big Elkin Creek my days were filled with fun, frolicking and fantasy. When I escaped to the river I found myself in a world all my own, lost in time, hidden from fearful eyes and wagging tongues. I thought I lived in one of the most magical places on earth. My opinion has not changed very much the last 50 years.


From Carter Mill Road to Preacher Field Road in Wilkes County, NC, I stomped in and around about every inch of creek water that flowed through there. I can show you where the old liquor still once brewed up a powerful batch of rotgut. On a clear summer eve the smell of sour mash would cling to the breeze and rise up the hill to my house. I’ll never forget that smell or the sound of the blast when the revenuers blew the still up.  A few years back I was down in the swamp, some of the remnants of the old still site can be found, but there’s not a whole lot left when a revenuer blows up a man’s livelihood with a stick of dynamite.


I can show you exactly the spot a water moccasin opened his mouth and showed me his pearly-white tonsils. I swear that snake chased me for a half mile down the creek stream that emptied into the Big Elkin. Don’t tell me there are no cottonmouth snakes in this area.


On a late afternoon as the darkness would take over the night the scream of a mountain cat could be heard for miles and miles up and down the Big Elkin. Water carries sound. That cat crying out for his mate sounded like a baby a-screaming. First time I heard it my daddy laughed and laughed at me. That screeching cat scared me to death. I knew where that sly cat lived. He bedded down in one of the deep crevices in the rock cliff above Carter Falls.


I spent many an hour at the bridge down below my house on old dirt road number 2042. I lived on that road even before it was given a real name, Preacher Field Road. In the day you could find initials craved into the wooden bridge of every sweetheart within a twenty-mile radius. A spring flood finally took out that old bridge. I hated to see it go, and still to this day, forty odd-years later I have not gotten use to the new metal bridge. Sometimes when I’m roaming I find myself down at the bridge. I close my eyes and see the markings, T.D.W loves S.G.M. These declarations of love were etched for eternity, but the river had other plans.


Below my daddy’s bottomland was Herman and Bertie Gentry’s acreage. As a youngster many a time I’d stroll by their house on the way to Carter Falls. I’d stop in and say a quick hello and of course ask them if it’d be okay if I wondered on down to the falls that just so happened to be in their back yard. I knew after asking them that first time it would be okay for me to borrow their water anytime. They were more than welcome to share the view with their young neighbor.


I have loved the land and nature for as long as my memory remembers. To this day I still slip off and head down in the woods to Klondike Lake, or stroll up the road toward my old hangout, Carter Falls. I always wondered how in the world the falls stayed such a secret, a natural beauty tucked back in time. Probably because up until a dozen or more years ago Duke Power (Energy) owned the property on the side that borders Pleasant Ridge Road, and the Gentry family still owns the property on the other side off of Preacher Field Road. The falls cannot be seen from the road and there is no maintained road into the site, just a seldom-traveled path down through the pasture from the Gentry farm, and a footpath down the hill from Carter Mill Road.


A few months ago I took my granddaughter down to the falls and she couldn’t believe there was something that awesome so close to where she lives. I began to wonder about the proposed “Elkin to Stone Mountain Trail” that might bring hikers past this awesome landmark. Part of me wants to keep the falls a secret, to hoard it back so I can take a few select people down there and show it off, just like it was my very own play land. The other part knows the falls should be shared.


As progress continues on the “Elkin to Stone Mountain Trail” I intend to keep you informed through this blog. I am so excited that a few pioneers calling themselves “Vibrant Elkin” set forth back in 2011 with a vision. Just like Daniel Boone and Christopher Columbus these people forged ahead hoping to reveal the natural wonders of this area. With an adventurous mind set they have a vision to improve our area’s economics, giving locals and tourists an awesome 20-plus mile trail from Crater Park in Elkin, to Stone Mountain. Parts of this trail will even be open to bike and horseback riders.


God made all things: rocks, every grain of dirt, trees, briars, plants, and water systems. So I truly believe that He made these things for all of us to enjoy. I applaud these visionaries who give of their time to “Blaze the Trail” for us all to enjoy.



To get involved in this project please contact Elkin Valley Trails Association via their web site:



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