Ranger Falls Loop Trail

MODERATE 42 reviews
#21 of 88 trails in

Ranger Falls Loop Trail is a 2.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Highlands, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
2.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
567 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

Please check in with park before leaving. Trails are sometimes closed after severely rainy conditions because of flooding, mud, or downed trees. Also, please read directions in the "Getting There" tab. GoogleMaps will not bring you to the second parking lot where the Ranger Falls Loop Trailhead is. Again, please look at directions indicated in the "Getting There" tab and continue to second parking lot.

5 days ago

Good shady trail. Good amount of flowing water at various points along the trail. The falls are great and a nice cool break before finishing up the hike.

hiking
5 days ago

peaceful and very well maintained trail.

hiking
6 days ago

Heavily shaded. Took about 1.5 hrs counterclockwise.
Stopped to read trail markers and enjoy ranger falls.

9 days ago

Good, quick loop. The falls are worth the trip and the diversity of trees along the way made for a pretty enjoyable time. We went right at the loop junction, and we were glad that we did. Either way, this is a good loop.

hiking
23 days ago

Beautiful forest walk for the first 1.7 miles. The final 1.1 miles wind through a wildflower packed field. We parked in the flat mountain lot which made this hike a 2.8 mile loop. Saw a few others on the trail on a Saturday.

25 days ago

This is a great trail with so much to see and so many places to explore. Our family of five with two teenagers and a standard poodle had a great time but we managed to get off the trail by half a mile by taking a fork in that appeared to be the correct direction but wasn’t. Still a beautiful, fun hike.

27 days ago

We absolutely LOVED this hike. Very lush, several waterfalls and great exercise coming back up.

hiking
2 months ago

My husband and I very much enjoyed this trail. It was as easy to navigate and the markers along the way were very educational. It was pouring rain when we went but the falls are definitely worth the hike (even in the rain).

2 months ago

This is a wonderful trail and hike. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk through the woods with all the interpretive markers educating us about different plants along the way: amongst other things. We did not see another hiker on the trail, but that may be because it was pouring rain. The trail is definitely muddy and slippery, but that did not create any problems for us (hiking sticks are an asset).

great short hike especially with kids. beautiful falls, gorgeous natural scenery.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fun quick hike.

hiking
Friday, July 07, 2017

Great moderate trail for kids. Did this with kids aged two to eight. Had to carry the two year old at parts because it is quite steep and he got tired, but the other three (5 to 8) did the whole thing with no complaints and minimal help. Minimal mud, safe trails. Waterfall at the bottom is beautiful with a pool that can be waded in.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Great hike! Beautiful falls! I disagree with the other reviews criticizing the trail markers. We found the trail well marked and easy to navigate.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bad - there are two parking lots. Unknown at time. Causing .8 mile hike to be 4 miles and confusion with unmarked trails. It is quiet and beautiful. Just make sure you park at correct parking lot with map and complete marked trail.

hiking
Monday, July 11, 2016

I found it easy to navigate and to be a good workout. Lots of steep grades and narrow passages. The waterfall was a nice scene after viewing trees for 30 minutes. Will not do again.

hiking
Saturday, September 12, 2015

I agree with some of the sentiments mentioned by Hiking Diva about the half after the falls needing better markings at the junctions, but I followed the trail based on what seemed like the most obvious route and didn't have any problems. I wouldn't suggest going on a 2 hour hike when you have 2 hours before sunset and have never done the trail before hoping for the best because that is when the worst is bound to happen.

I did like that this trail was not heavily traveled on a Friday around noon. I appreciate all of the signs along the way indicating types of trees and bushes. It is a nice mix of up and down hill with nothing too strenuous. I always hike with waterproof boots so the wet areas didn't bother me. The falls themselves are not a destination but just another point along a nice walk through the woods.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

I would give this a Zero star rating if I could. I am an avid hiker/backpacker/bushwhacker - this was, hands down, the worst trail experience I have ever had.

Trail info indicates it is a 1.5mile trail. There is no official trail map, but there is an "interpretive trail brochure" with lots of dandy details that correspond to quite a few signs along the trail.

But no one blazed the trail. I (wrongly) assumed as an "interpretative" trail, it would be easy enough for me to complete in 2hrs before sunset. The trail to the Falls itself was no problem, however, afterwards, there are so many unmarked spurs, that one could literally be lost all day.

I ended up on a spur that took me thru a meadow, where I had a close encounter with a bear. I had spray, a whistle, rocks - but the bear ran into the meadow that was way over my head. I didn't know if I should backtrack or keep ahead. I am not particularly antsy about bears, however, I was solo and no clue where the bear was. I made it out, and tried to find a Ranger to alert as someone else was on the trail...none to be found.

I complained to the campground host who said it is the Park Service's responsibility to blaze the trail and that the complaint would fall on deaf ears. That they had been "blazing" using ribbon - which would be dandy, however, they show up suddenly, no explanation of the varying colors.

Additionally, the trail was ridiculously muddy and slippery - and there had been NO rain in over a week. The routing of the trail was poorly-planned, and many cut off small tree stumps were present on the path, making it quite "trippable".

The falls itself are not that impressive.

The 1.5 mile trail ended up being over 3.2 miles and I do NOT recommend this until they blaze the trail adequately.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

If you are looking for a traditional hike through the forest without seeing any other hikers, this is a great hike for you. We went early morning on a Sunday with the dog and our three kids under 7 hiking and I wore our 1 year old. Nobody else on the trail. The falls are very pretty. Hike back was pretty killer uphill. Directions given by all trails to the trail head is a bit off. Took us 2 hours to complete but I stopped to photograph the flowers and mushrooms and we had a lot of young kids. Peaceful and relaxing.

hiking
Sunday, June 28, 2015

Easy to moderate short hike.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

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