Schoolhouse Falls

The most well-known waterfall of Panthertown Valley, 18-foot Schoolhouse Falls, a mix of small cascades ending in a free fall from Greenland Creek, is best visited on a sunny summer day.

Botanical enthusiasts will be right at home among the cascade's rare plants, but watch out for the slippery algae coating the rocks you might feel inclined to climb on. As you might imagine, the name stems from the fact that a small schoolhouse, built almost a century ago, once sat nearby. While the logging families cleared out of the area after the Depression, the schoolhouse often served as a home for those down on their luck.

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Get Directions 35.1633, -83.0067
Photo of Schoolhouse Falls

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Hike Description

A map is highly recommended to hike in Panthertown Valley. Learn more here and get trailhead directions. Once at the Cold Mountain Gap trailhead:

Take the trail to the right of the information kiosk and follow it 0.15 mile to an old dirt road. Turn left on the road. You’ll go on a moderate descent for about 0.9 mile to a trail intersection at a small, level clearing. You’ll pass some side paths along the road, some cutting the switchbacks and one leading down to the top of the falls. The easiest route to the falls is to follow the road all the way down.

At the intersection, Devils Elbow Trail (#448) goes right and leads to Wardens Falls. Panthertown Valley Trail (#474), which you followed to reach this point, goes straight ahead. To the left, an old path leads to Schoolhouse Falls, but don’t take it. Instead, go straight on Panthertown Valley Trail, cross Greenland Creek on the bridge, then turn left on the obvious Little Green Trail (#485). It leads to Schoolhouse Falls in about 0.15 mile.


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

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©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.

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Sylva’s Brew Hop

Apr 06  //  Starts: 7:00 pm Ends: 11:00 pm

Enjoy the Jackson County Ale Trail with Sylva’s Annual Brew Hop! In honor of NC Beer Month, join City Lights Café, Balsam Falls Brewing, Innovation

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