Mingo Falls Trail is a 0.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Cherokee, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 0.3 miles Elevation Gain: 98 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

Mingo Falls is on the Cherokee Indian Reservation (Qualla Boundary), just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. No special permits are required for access to the reservation. At 120 feet tall, the waterfall is one of the tallest and most spectacular in the southern Appalachians. The waterfall majestically cascades down nearly 200 feet of rock face and boulders. The hike to the falls includes 161 steep steps to a picturesque wooden viewing bridge that crosses Mingo Creek directly in front of the falls. Cherokee residents enjoy the falls as much as out-of-town visitors. Many locals recommend going in the morning to avoid the crowds and for the best chance to see Mingo Falls in the morning fog. The official name of the falls originates from the Cherokee term Mingo which means Big Bear. The waterfall is also unofficially called Big Bear Falls. \n\nTrailhead: From Oconaluftee Visitor Center, drive south (toward Cherokee) on US-441 and take the second left onto Big Cove Road. At the first stop sign turn left and drive 4.5 miles to Mingo Falls Campground, where the trail begins.

hiking
7 hours ago

Short hike, lots of steps at first, beautiful waterfall. Great little spot for a lunch on the far side of the creek

3 days ago

Quite a few stairs on the climb up, but worth it for the sight of the falls!

hiking
10 days ago

Great view of the falls, but the walk is straight up stairs. Worth it, though!

hiking
10 days ago

The stairs really did it for me...but by the time you get to the top and see that beautiful waterfall, it is totally worth it. Wish it was a longer hike.

hiking
19 days ago

Make sure you can handle stairs, 160-ish of them. Once you catch your breath at the top of the stairs, the trail is pretty and the waterfall is amazing.

hiking
1 month ago

LOTS of stairs! Worth the trek up! Water fall is nice and you can climb up the side of it too!

hiking
1 month ago

Easy in and out hike while still getting to see some awesome scenery.

hiking
closed
2 months ago

Trail is tentatively closed :(

hiking
2 months ago

Visited last year.

hiking
muddy
2 months ago

Short hike up a lot of stairs to a gorgeous waterfall! Well worth the climb.

muddy
off trail
2 months ago

it was awesome! I went yesterday. shirt walk to falls. I went closer and took the trail to the top of the falls. pretty muddy in some places. definitely be safe if you decide to go that route

hiking
2 months ago

Short hike up stairs but so worth view! The waterfall was amazing!

hiking
3 months ago

Pictures can't describe just how tall and awesome this falls is. Beautiful with snow on it. I hopped the creek to get a different photo with the bridge in it. I could sit at the base of this falls all day. Waterfalls are good for the soul! Easy walk to an awesome reward.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
3 months ago

Not long at all....but the stairs...I counted 160.

hiking
3 months ago

169 stairs- the stairway to heaven! Beautiful!

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful waterfall, well maintained

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful but not really a hike, but stairs.

hiking
icy
muddy
4 months ago

Spectacular!

hiking
5 months ago

NYE ‘19– a tradition.

hiking
icy
5 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Easy waterfall if you don’t mind steps. Short distance to get to it. Beautiful falls with great flow! Easy to find (there are signs that tell you what road to follow, google gps will direct you to turn on a side street, don’t follow it .. use the signs)

hiking
6 months ago

Easy stair climb up, although I saw a few people struggling. Pretty waterfall at the top!

walking
6 months ago

Not really a hike or a walk, definitely a stair climb. The "fall" was very impressive the day we went, lots of rain the days before made for a nice display of water power and force, other than that it was uneventful. We took our grand-kids to see the falls, they were very impressed and excited. I would tale them again if they asked but I wouldn't make the trip for any other reason again.

hiking
6 months ago

short hike. some stairs and a little walk. it was slippery and some pointy rocks so just pay attention where you step. water fall was beautiful. not a lot of place to stand and watch the fall so go on a weekday

hiking
7 months ago

Wow. Short stair climb + walk — amazing falls. Today’s rain only added to the effect.

hiking
7 months ago

I wouldn’t call this a hike but it is a beautiful little trail after you walk up the steps. The waterfall is one of the tallest I’ve seen in North Carolina so far. It rained the night before we went so the water was really pouring off the rocks. Gorgeous! Great for families with kids looking to squeeze something in to to pass a little time.

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