Rock Slab Falls
A gentle waterfall flowing over smooth rocks sparkling with bands of quartz, Rock Slab Falls is a former logging camp littered with reminders of those who used to call it home.
Fed by Forney Creek, the falls features a long, two-part slide, with each section standing at about 25 feet high. Iron pipes, railroad fragments, and even an old wheel and axle from a train car litter the grounds around the falls, evidence of the former community. Among the fresh-smelling Fraser fir-red spruce trees surrounding Rock Slab Falls, hikers can also expect to see Rugel's ragwort, a rare, cream-colored wildflower that only grows in the highest elevations of the Smoky Mountains.
Begin the hike on the far western end of the parking area between the information kiosk and the paved trail leading to the Clingmans Dome tower. You’ll descend on Forney Ridge Trail for 275 yards to a junction with Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail. Turn left at the junction to remain on Forney Ridge Trail and hike the exceedingly rocky 1-mile route to the junction with Forney Creek Trail.
Turn right on Forney Creek Trail and begin the continuous moderate descent to the falls. At about 1.4 miles from Forney Ridge Trail, you’ll reach a side stream. Don’t cross here, even though it may look like you should. Instead, cross the tiny braid onto the little island, walk downstream a few yards, then cross back over the braid and continue the hike on the river-right side of the creek. In another 0.5 mile, you’ll cross Forney Creek just below a scenic cascade. You’ll then make the first brief ascent of the entire hike, then descend via a left-hand switchback to reach the creek near the falls. A short side path leads to the base. Another path leads up to the base of the upper drop.
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.