[Fig. 8(11)] Elk Park draws its name from a settlement near the North Carolina/Tennessee line that dates back to 1885. The once-abundant elk (Cervus elaphus) were extirpated from North Carolina around 1800, but early settlers memorialized these glorious 1,000-pound beasts by naming many favorite places "Elk."
The Elk River flows through a broad valley leading to Elk Falls on a small tract of the Pisgah National Forest. Elk Falls can claim many superlatives: its 50-foot plunge surrounded by sheer cliffs makes it one of the most beautiful in the state, it features one of the largest and deepest pools in the state, and it is very easy to reach. A short, .25-mile trail leads downstream from the picnic area through a forest of hemlock and rhododendron along the Elk River. At the head of the falls, a flight of steps leads to the bottom where flat rocks make an ideal spot for sunbathers, picnickers, and swimmers taking a rest. Public trout-fishing areas are limited but offer good conditions. Elk Park is on the Mission Crossing Scenic Byway established by the NC Department of Transportation.
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