High Shoals Falls Loop Trail

At A Glance

More Difficult

2.7 mi one-way

Difficulty Rating: 2.7
Steepness: Climbs Steeply
Tread Condition: Moderately Rough
Blaze Color: Blue Circle
Other Map ID: 7


This short, but steep, and very popular trail takes hikers about a mile to High Shoals Falls. All junctions are signed and the tail is well blazed.

Starts at the Jacob Fork parking area on an old road to the right of the picnic area. (You can also take the Hemlock Nature trail which parallels this trail but closer to the river for a short distance). Past the junctions with Chestnut Knob and Hemlock Nature trail, this trail crosses Shinny Creek on a bridge. Junction with the H.Q. trail is past the bridge on the right; continue straight. The trail enters a small clearing where it splits to make the loop portion of the hike. The quickest way to the falls is to take a left here and do the loop clockwise.

This path, which is now a purpose-built trail, follows the beautiful Jacob Fork river upstream to the falls beside huge boulders, large trees, and deep, clear pools. Climbs along this part of the trail are moderately steep. The surface is quite rocky on this stretch with many bridge and staircase structures along the way. Before the final ascent to the falls, the trail crosses the river once at a beautiful area stacked high with huge boulders and small cascades all around them.

A side path to the right leads across a bridge to a viewing area near the middle of the falls atop a huge boulder.

The trail continues to climb beside the falls up a very steep set of steps. It crosses the river above the falls on another bridge and then starts heading northeast across a low ridge. Keep right at the two Upper Falls trail junctions. It then heads back downhill on a moderately steep path through nice but nondescript forest areas to the loop split.

Turn left to head back to the parking area.

This trail is located in the South Mountains State Park area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the South Mountains State Park trails list page.

All Photos from the Trail

Gallery Permalink


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.

WNCOutdoors Base Layer

The WNCOutdoors Base layer is provided by WNCOutdoors.info. It is licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

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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Trail Segments

Trails are often made up of several connecting paths which may have different characteristics, allowed uses, and seasons. This trail is divided into multiple segments as follows:

High Shoals Falls Loop - Picnic Area to Trail

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking
  • Length: 0.44 mi

High Shoals Falls Loop - Trail to Falls

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking
  • Length: 0.41 mi

High Shoals Falls Loop - Falls to Top

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking
  • Length: 0.21 mi

High Shoals Falls Loop - Road Portion

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking
  • Length: 0.52 mi

High Shoals Falls Loop - Upper Falls Tr.

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking
  • Length: 0.34 mi

Total Calculated Length: 1.91 mi

This value is derived from our underlying map data, and it may not match officially published information.



Average Rating: 3.5 (rated 6 times)

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Chris said: It looks like the segment mileage estimates are about a half mile off from the total length of the trail for a full loop: High Shoals Falls Loop - Picnic Area to Trail (out) = 0.4 High Shoals Falls Loop - Trail to Falls = 0.4 High Shoals Falls Loop - Falls to Top = 0.2 High Shoals Falls Loop - Road Portion = 0.5 High Shoals Falls Loop - Upper Falls Tr. = 0.3 High Shoals Falls Loop - Picnic Area to Trail (back) = 0.4 Total = 2.2 miles Any idea why? Also, when I download the GPS tracks, I'm only getting the upper portion of the loop.

Monday, April 17 2017 6:30pm

@carolinatrekker said: Hiked this trail in December 2015 with my wife and children (4 yrs and 12 yrs old). They loved it. There are all kinds of interesting things to see on this short trail: boulders, a nice stream, cascades, a beautiful waterfall, and all the stairs and bridges. Kept things interesting. I'd only recommend the 2nd half for those who aren't afraid of stairs, heights, or lots of climbing. A great trail! Pics and fuller hike info here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.702165616585390.1073741838.557584497710170&type=1&l=d08dcd4abc

Saturday, January 9 2016 5:10pm

Chip O said: Went both routes with full packs great for a starter backpacker. Upper falls campground is blissful even other campers plenty of open space. gather fire wood as you hike in.

Sunday, June 29 2014 9:39pm

Herbie Pearthree said: Beautiful hike that provides a great up close view of the falls. Wonderful for a day hike. If you're over-nighting you may want to pick another route if you have a backpack on - the stairs along the falls are a serious workout and should only be attempted by those that are in very good physical and cardio shape if also carrying an overnight backpack.

Monday, December 17 2012 6:01pm

mbd said: Where's the map?

Sunday, April 15 2012 9:10pm
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