Fed by the West Fork Tuckasegee River, High Falls includes a two-section free fall over a looming cliff.
There's a reason it's called "High"—the falls has a total height of about 100 feet, and depending on when you visit, you can experience the natural power of this waterfall when the water is high or see it up close and personal when the water is low.
From the upper trailhead, the hike begins at the gate on High Falls Trail. You’ll descend on the gravel road for just under 0.2 mile, then turn right on the obvious trail. The trail descends a little over 0.6 mile to the falls. It is well graded and easy to follow but is steep in places and has lots of steps.
From the lower trailhead, take the side road that forks to the right off Shoal Creek Mountain Road. It has an orange gate. You’ll cross Shoal Creek on an auto bridge at 0.1 mile and come to a fork at 0.2 mile. Go left and ascend gradually for 0.4 mile. The trail swings around a ridge, then descends gradually for over 1 mile to a side path on the right. The side path leads to a view of Rough Run Falls. From the side path, it’s another 0.3 mile to High Falls. When you get close to the falls, you’ll have to scramble along the rocks to reach the base.
Most of the lower trail is not on Duke Energy property. The landowners allow public access provided visitors follow these conditions: no four-wheelers or other motorized vehicles, no littering, no camping, no campfires of any kind, no fishing or hunting. In other words, conduct yourself as you would anytime you’re on another person’s property. Break these rules and access for everyone could be denied.
Leave No Trace -- Seven Principles1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more details, visit www.lnt.org
©1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
Heed posted warning signs indicating danger and stay on established trails. Never climb on or around waterfalls and never play in the water above a waterfall. Rocks can be slippery and it's easy to lose your balance especially with bare feet. Currents near waterfalls can be extremely swift even in areas further upstream. Never jump off waterfalls or dive into plunge pools at the base of waterfalls. Rocks and logs can be hidden beneath the surface of the water. Often waterfall pools have swirling water or currents that can drag and keep you underwater. Even if you have seen other people enjoy playing around waterfalls, be aware they have been lucky to escape unharmed. Waterfalls are constantly changing with varying water flows and erosion of the rocks around them. The current from one place to the next may be faster than you anticipate and the arrangement of rocks or other debris such as logs in the plunge pool is ever changing.