One of the most recent set of trails highlights the 60-foot cascade of Carter Falls, which until recently, was unknown to many people in the area because it was on private land.
The Carter Falls Trail starts at the northwest corner of the parking area on Pleasant Ridge Road. The trail is flat and wide as it takes you through a young hardwood forest to an opening at the top of the falls.
A 10-foot high dam, built in 1915 to harness Elkin Creek to generate electricity, once stood upstream from here. Water was carried by pipeline to the base where a powerhouse produced electricity for the town.
The trail then runs parallel to the creek. Visitors have cut a steep trail directly to the base of the Upper Falls where the fall’s plunge pool makes a good spot for wading. A sediment beach shaded by hardwood trees runs along the west side of the creek.
The Carter Falls Trail then merges into the Powerhouse Trail. EVTA built a staircase and landing to detour hikers around a giant washout created by a flume break in the 1960s. The trail then descends to the Lower Falls where a stone foundation is all that is left of the powerhouse.
Together, the Carter Falls Trail and the Powerhouse Trail make an easy 1.0-mile loop through the park’s 43 acres.
The association is currently raising money to build a 150-foot suspension bridge below the Lower Falls that will reroute the existing route of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail off the road to the Carter Falls Trail, up the west side of the falls and on toward Stone Mountain.