Blue Ridge Parkway | WILSON CREEK OVERLOOK (MP 302.8)

Footbridge over Wilson Creek near the Blue Ridge Parkway

Footbridge over Wilson Creek near the Blue Ridge Parkway

View: ♦ ♦ ♦ / 5
Trails: Tanawha Trail / Mountains to Sea Trail
Picnic Tables: None

There is no view of Wilson Creek from the parking area, but if you take a five-minute walk on the Tanawha Trail, you can get to a footbridge over the creek. This is recommended only for photographers who want a nice photo of the water cascading over the rocks underneath the bridge, otherwise you are just taking a walk to look at a creek. However, there is a catch to all of this. If no water is flowing—and I’m talking about torrents of water—then there is nothing worth seeing. The conundrum is that you don’t know if the water is flowing unless you hike to the bridge. When I visited in September, even after a rainstorm there was nothing but a trickle, so I am guessing that you’d have to be here in the spring just after the snow melts on the mountains. I’ve seen other photos of the cascades, so that’s how I know a beautiful photo is possible.

To get to the bridge, look for a staircase at the left side of the parking lot. This is the start of a short trail that connects to the Tanawha Trail. The path is fairly level, with the steepest section being the stairs. The trail comes out underneath the Blue Ridge Parkway bridge that crosses Wilson Creek. The obvious course is to stay straight and follow the support columns down a steep hill to the creek, but this is not the way to go. Instead, before reaching the columns, look into the woods on your left and you will see the trail. It’s a little overgrown and not very evident, a testament to the fact that not many people come this way. Follow this until you come to the intersection with the Tanawha Trail, then take a right towards Price Park to reach the bridge. A sign points the way. The Tanawha Trail is also fairly level, but its terrain is rough due to large rocks and roots.

Footbridge over Wilson Creek near the Blue Ridge Parkway

Footbridge over Wilson Creek near the Blue Ridge Parkway

If the water is really flowing, you must get down to creek level for a good photograph. To do this, cross the bridge, and on the left side is where people have worn a path down the steep slope to the creek. As mentioned, this is not an easy task. Be prepared to climb down rocks. You’ll need to sit; you’ll need to slide; you’ll need to use two hands. Being sure-footed is a requirement, either that or bring hiking poles with you. I nearly fell backwards stepping up onto a rounded rock when exiting. You’ve seen the movies where the guy looses his balance on a ledge and his arms flail round and round to keep himself from falling. Well that was me, and a backwards fall certainly would have resulted in serious injury, if not death caused by my head smacking onto the rocks below. It is no laughing matter to get to the bottom, and of course all is made even tougher if you are carrying camera gear and a tripod. I hiked to the bottom simply to get a photo for this article, but if there is no water, don’t waste your time.

Boulders of all size lie on the path between the bridge and the Wilson Creek, Blue Ridge Parkway

Boulders of all size lie on the path between the bridge and the Wilson Creek, Blue Ridge Parkway


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Last updated on December 20, 2023
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