High Falls Trail

At A Glance


0.7 mi one-way

Difficulty Rating: 1.91
Steepness: Climbs Steeply
Tread Condition: Some Obstacles
Lowest Elevation: 2875 ft
Highest Elevation: 3510 ft
Climb Total: 650 ft
Blaze Color: None
Hikes That Use This Trail: Tuckasegee High Falls


From the parking area away from the lake, the trail begins as a gated road leading down below part of the dam. It winds downhill on a graveled path to a hairpin turn near a drainage basin, then turns right at a sign. From there the trail becomes much steeper and descends sets of log steps toward the river, which it begins following downstream. The trail will cross a couple of unique, small bridges and then descend steeply on rock steps. Only short stretches are actual dirt trail. You'll see how much work was required to build this trail - hundreds of massive logs and stones (sourced from on-site) were put into place to keep hikers safely on the path. The trail passes by an upper waterfall, called First Falls, and then under a neat overhanging cliff as you go past the brink of High Falls. The trail then descends on rock steps through switchbacks beside the upper part of High Falls to reach the put-in at its base.

Note: Though this trail is 0.7 mi in length, there's no connections, so there's no option but to hike it out-and-back for a total distance of 1.4 mi. This trail constitutes the Tuckasegee High Falls Hike. For more details, see the hike page.


From the I-40 and I-26 interchange in Asheville, NC, take I-40 west about 18 miles to Exit 27 for the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, US 74/19/23 toward Waynesville. Follow the expressway for about 21 miles to Exit 85 for Sylva/Cullowhee. Follow Business 23 for about 1.8 miles into town and turn left on NC 107. Go just over 20 miles on 107 (past Western Carolina University) and turn right onto Pine Creek Road. It's 2 miles on this crooked road to The Pines Recreation Area, just across the dam, where there is parking on both sides of the road for the trail.

This trail is located in the Pines Recreation Area area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the Pines Recreation Area trails list page.

All Photos from the Trail

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Map Information

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Data Formats

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About the Map


Base Layers

Base layers provided by OpenStreetMap, the US Geological Survey, the US Forest Service, and NC OneMap. Base layer images are subject to the respective copyright policies of their owners. Base layers may not be available at all times due to system maintenance or outages.

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Trail and Marker Overlays

Trail layers and downloadable data are all original works created by WNCOutdoors with guidance from a variety of sources, including ensembles of our own GPS tracks, user contributed GPS tracks, official maps and GIS data from government agencies, and field observations. WNCOutdoors data is made freely available under the Open Database License - you are free to copy and use it for any purpose under the terms of that license (summary).


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