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.
Trails and Waterfalls can be dangerous; take no chances, only photos for memories. Read our Safety and Insider tips to have a safe, fun and enjoyable trip to Jackson County.
Leave No Trace — Seven Principles
1. 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
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