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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 bird watching 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

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

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.

1 month ago

Enjoyed the falls. We spent a lot of time there taking pictures and getting our feet wet in a shallow pool of water. You'll see a sign at .8 of a mile pointing to the falls. The trail is damp in a lot of places and you do have to cross small streams so wear something you don't mind getting dirty or wet. The loop trail continues past the falls. A short uphill climb then the rest is downhill from there! You'll come across and old "Unusual Farm Structure" but just keep following the service road for a portion of the return hike then it turns back into the narrow wooded trail. A lot of informational signs on the trail. Would hike again!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

Enjoyed the hike very much, the falls were beautiful! It had rained the day prior so lots of soggy patches and creeks to hop across. Ended up with cold, wet feet (my fault because I wasn’t wearing waterproof boots) but it was worth it! Not marked really well, but this map made it easy to find our place.

hiking
6 months ago

We actually decided to hike the adjacent trail , clifftop vista trail, just left of Ranger Falls trailhead. Initially nice across a couple of small streams. It was a hike thru the woods and towards the top of mountain it go quite steep. The trail was full of damp leaves. Kept thinking we would see a “vista” view at top and there is none! So basically good quiet hike in the woods. We walked up and all the way down the other side. Must be careful to stay on vista trail. We ended up above the lake and could easily get back down paved road.

hiking
7 months ago

Pretty trail, wooded, not a lot of people, which was nice. You hike close up to the waterfall when you get there. I hiked the adjacent trail as well, like another reviewer implied there wasn't really a mountain top to check out, it went to another parking lot. The hike through was pretty, some old stones from a house and a couple apple trees just past there.

hiking
7 months ago

Nice

hiking
7 months ago

loved this trail!

hiking
8 months ago

Definitely follow the “getting there” directions! Ranger Falls was nice. The hike was fairly easy. I did the adjacent hike also. Mountain Top??? It did it end at a parking lot. But on the way there was very interesting. It’s and old hog farm. There’s a sign that explains when it was sold to whom. There is a pen made out of rocks where they fed the hogs (trash from the Highlands country club). There was an apple orchard at some point. There still a few trees, with hundreds of apples on them!

hiking
8 months ago

A great hike. it is moderate in exertion but most doable. some wet areas to cross but in this drought nothing to it. the last third of the hike we came upon an area that was probably the orchard from years ago and the apple trees were dropping apples! some of these trees had to be about 30 feet high. there was a field of goldenrod and asters to and the yellow and purple were beautiful.

hiking
8 months ago

Nice trail. I found it clear to follow except at 2 points where having downloaded map kept me from making the wrong choice. (Shameless plug for all trails pro!) Even so, if I went the wrong way it would eventually have come back into the trail adding maybe 2/10 of a mile to hike. I will probably try it the next time I hike here .The second part of the trail was great, also. While part of the trail was a big enough for a car, it provided some change from the first half. Almost all of the trail is shaded except part of the second half, nice as it was hot yesterday. I was surprised to find the little signs did more then identify plants. Some interesting history and even a couple of "farm ruins" from the 1970's with explanations attached. All in all, nice 2.5 mile loop, a little harder then the 500 ft elevation change would lead you to believe as you are going up and down that 500 ft several times. Ranger Falls was nice, trail was easy to get to by car and a great addition to a waterfall drive near Highlands. Took about 1 1/2 hour, but I tend to go fast.

hiking
8 months ago

Nice trail, but download the map ahead of time. Not signed well and we passed several lost hikers. Relatively kid friendly.

hiking
8 months ago

I've lived in this area for 16+ years and never hiked this trail before, I hiked it Labor Day weekend (09/01/2019) it was a great trail, I'd say slightly more than moderate.. it was a lot of ups and downs and lots of roots from the trees I took my 3 dogs (2 are 12yrs old and one is a year) all 3 did great on the trail and it took us about 2 hrs to hike, I did stop and take A LOT of pictures, it was a great hike and I would totally recommend to hike this tail. Oh and you have to pay to park at Cliffside, didnt know that until I was there, luckily I happened to have cash on me that day.

hiking
8 months ago

Somehow this hike took us 2.5 hours. I know, right.? We must have added a spur somehow. Even looking back on it, we never figured that out. We really enjoyed it; but we thought we would be taking a shorter hike. Glad to have my sticks, esp in the wet areas.

hiking
9 months ago

Loved this trail. I would say it is between Easy and Moderate with some short stretches of steep incline areas. The route is scenic with it following the stream with the main falls and several small drops. Personally I enjoyed the change of pace while walking through the meadow and enjoyed the ID tags on the trees. Trail was cleared of all fallen trees but had several seep areas and stream crossings. It added to the variation in the trail

hiking
9 months ago

nice trail to the falls. didn't care for the walk through the field

hiking
9 months ago

the trail to Ranger Falls was nice. After the falls the trail is uneventful and not very scenic. If I did the trail again, I would make it an out & back trip.

hiking
11 months ago

Overgrown. Not very well maintained. The falls were disappointing. Bugs. Not much of a view of anything. Muddy in spots

hiking
11 months ago

Fun hike to Ranger Falls. Some incline makes it a workout but fairly easy terrain on a well marked trail. A few trees are down so you have to scramble in a couple places, especially at the falls. Heavily shaded forest and a walk through a small meadow. Interesting nature placards along the way made the hike informative too!

hiking
muddy
Fri May 17 2019

Went Monday, muddy after all the rain and lots of downed trees along the way as everyone of recent has stated, almost had to crawl under a few as my backpack kept getting caught under them. There was a big tree with a ton of branches down across the middle of the path going across the falls themselves, was not easy to navigate across with my pup especially since the flow was up because of all the rain, so prepare to get wet.

hiking
Wed May 08 2019

This was a really fun trail. It is marked throughout making it easy to follow and also has little nature description plagues which were informative and fun. The first leg of the trail is a steady (friendly) incline. When you go left to start the falls loop, it gets very wet (seeps, Springs, etc) which is beautiful and fun but can lead to wet feet and mud (worth it, but be prepared). This section leading to the falls is very overgrown with lots of down trees and branches requiring lots of moderate difficulty navigating. Our 2 year old got out of his backpack carrier to hike on his own because all the branches were too much. The falls are beautiful, worth the trip. The second half of loop after the falls was very well maintained (someone had obviously been through with a chainsaw). You then go through a lovely meadow/wetlands restoration site and then meet back up to the trail leading to the parking lot. If you want an easier trek, skip the loop and just enter counter clockwise to the falls and go back out the same way.

hiking
muddy
over grown
scramble
Wed May 08 2019

The trail is rated as “easy” but we all agreed it is not. It is definitely “moderate” with steep ascents and many limbs and tree trunks down creating obstacles to crawl over and under. The actual water fall has a huge tree laying across its base blocking the view and making crossing very tricky. Needs a good bit of maintenance right now. If it were cleaned up, it would be an excellent hike, and still challenging.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
Mon Apr 29 2019

The trail is beautiful and the waterfall very nice and refreshing! The hike was harder than I expected for two reasons: too many trees down and the “up hill” was kind of steep. I had fun and enjoyed the visit despite the muddy terrain.

off trail
rocky
Sat Mar 23 2019

it was awesome I would recommend it to everyone

hiking
muddy
Wed Mar 20 2019

Great hike for families! No extreme elevation changes and relatively soft ground. It was a little muddy but very manageable. I brought my dog for her first trail hike and she loved it!

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