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E B Jeffress Park [MP 271.9 – 272.5]

The park was created in 1968. It was named after E. B. Jeffress who was not only a strong supporter of the Parkway but an outspoken—and successful—advocate against making the Parkway a toll road. Jeffress served as Chairman of the North Carolina Highway Commission in 1934.

destination-jesse-brown-cabinSet along the edge of the Blue Ridge Plateau, the park offers a picnic area and restrooms, great hiking and a gorgeous waterfall as well as being home to the historic Jesse Brown Cabin, an African-American farmer and preacher, and his Cool Springs Baptist Church.

It also features two short hikes leading to interesting natural and man-made destinations. The Cascade Trail follows Falls Creek to where the creek plunges over a bare-rock cliff face on its way to the Piedmont 2,000 feet below. These falls are called ‘The Cascades’ and they are one of the key attractions in this area. The Cascades are easily accessible via a short hiking trail from the overlook parking lot. The trail is not difficult and is lined with numerous hardwoods and azaleas. Throughout the trail, there are small sign posts describing the variety of plants and wildlife that habitat the area. The trail courses through forests of yellow-poplar, hickory, black cherry (Prunus serotina), witch-hazel, basswood, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), and Fraser magnolia. Benches, rustic footbridges, and two overlooks (one at the top of the rushing water, the other at a lower perspective) add to the trail experience.

The understory here is thick with legendary dog-hobble, said to grow so intertwined that it traps bear-hunting dogs more intent on sniffing than watching where they are going; once caught, or “hobbled,” they fall easy prey to waiting bears. Other understory vegetation includes solomon’s seal, flame azalea, mountain laurel, and rhododendron.

Tompkins Knob Trail is an easy one mile hike that travels through the forest to a clearing for two old log structures: Cool Spring Baptist Church where itinerant preachers rallied people from miles around and Jesse Brown’s Cabin, the home where the preachers often stayed the night.

The park attracts a number of birds, especially the late-spring and summer eastern wood peewee, wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), hooded warbler, ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus), and rufous-sided towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). [1]

Sherpa Guides, “E B Jeffress Park Area”

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