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The highlight of this small park north of Deep Gap and Boone on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 272) is the Cascades waterfall, which is reached by via a loop trail through hardwoods, rhododendron and mountain laurel.
The park also has a picnic area, a water fountain and a restroom with a vault toilet, and a historic church and cabin in another section reached by a half-mile trail.
The Cascades Trail is an easy-to-moderate one-mile round trip. It is wide and smooth in most spots, but crosses two bridges over Falls Creek and has spots with exposed roots and rocks typical of mountain trails. Because it goes downhill to the waterfall, the return trip is a slight climb.
Along the way, informational signs explain trailside flora, like flame azalea and white oak.
The upper overlook brings you close to the cascading waters as they plunge over the cliff.
The lower overlook, which requires descending a narrow stairway, provides a proper view of the waterfall.
Unfortunately, the stairs are not always well maintained and can become overgrown.
Check out our video of Falls Creek and the cascades.
A section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail joins the Cascades Trail and the Tompkins Knob Trail, which runs from the south end of the Cascades parking lot to the Tompkins Knob overlook 0.6 mile away.
The Tompkins Trail is an easy walk, with the forest opening wide before reaching the lawn where Cool Spring Baptist Church (below) and Jesse Brown's Cabin (second photo below) sit.
The church was served by circuit-riding preachers and was mostly used when inclement weather forced services inside. Its rib-pole roof construction is also noteworthy, according to Leonard Adkins' Walking the Blue Ridge.
Don't overlook the spring house (below), which is a short distance off of the far right corner of the lawn.
The picnic grounds at the Cascades Trail parking lot offers 30 tables, including shady sites and a view of ridges to the east.
E.B. Jeffress Park in on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of U.S. 421 in western Wilkes County. Click on the map for a larger version. (The N.C. DOT's map shows the park on the left side of the road heading north, but it is on the right.)