Explore the most popular hiking trails near Highlands with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

4 days ago

Easy trail but not well maintained.

I enjoy hikes that make me work for a view...I even enjoy hikes that are really strenuous without even offering a great view. I just enjoy feeling the burn. AND...this hike definitely deserves the title of most challenging. We started around 1:45 PM, taking our time, enjoying the scenery and the light drizzle of TS Florence on our skin. According to my FitBit tracker, we arrived at the fire tower after 7.32 miles. Another 7.52 miles (we made a small detour with our dogs to explore the trail to the parking lot at the top) and we arrived back at the car.

Most definitely pack a lot of water, and plenty of food to fuel the hike back. The return is pleasurably painful, but It's worth every moment. Almost 15 miles.

We parked a car at the Iron Bridge on Bull Pen Road. We drove further on Bull Pen Road which was asphalt then gravel, past Ammons Campground to the intersection of Horse Cove Road (left/west to Highlands) and Whiteside Cove Road (right/east to Cashiers). Turned right on to Whiteside Cove Road. We drove past Granite City and Summer Chapel. We parked at the 5 car parking area for Chattooga River Trail in the Nantahala Ranger District. The trail started on the right/west side of the parking lot. There is a brown karsanite sign here. The trail was up, level, up, etc to the top of the hill. Initially there were several large trees that were chain sawed. A few years ago there was a large tree over the trail that we walked up and around. This was no longer there. There were many other trees over the trail before and after the large waterfall at the bridge over Norton Mill Creek. Good place for the Forest Service to give a class on proper use of a chain saw. From the north end of this bridge, walk down the rocks, toward Chattooga River. Peer around the corner to see the Narrows. We had lunch and soaked our feet here.
A nicer hike to the Narrows is drive 6.8 miles, from Hwy 107, down Whiteside Cove Road, at Macon/Jackson county line.. Park on left. Walk in one mile. Turn left at Chattooga River Trail. Cross bridge at Norton Mill Creek.
We continued on. We saw Lobelia, Indian Cucumber, Jewel Weed and other flowers. There were also more trees across the trail, including a reroute at a ravine switchback.
Before the sign for the Loop, there was a wet rock climb to a wet rock ledge. The hand line is no longer here. We walked along the wet ledge 10’ or so. Then climbed up the wet rock to the dirt trail. Many people who start from the Iron Bridge stop here and turn around and return to their car.
I do not recommend the Loop Trail. It goes uphill, away from the river and ends at a free no amenities campsite. To return to your car, turn left at road. From here it is a road walk to your car.
I always enjoy the rock shelf overhang. We watched our footing on the wet rock stairs.
We saw no one on the trail. It was the Thursday Hurricane Florence was predicted to make landfall on the Carolina coast. Beautiful day here.

Very overgrown. Lots of Faken trees and muddy. Good fun but takes much longer to navigate than you might expect.

AMAZING trail! My husband and I did this and loved it. It was tiny bit challenging but not bad at all. The terrain was diverse and the falls were amazing. I loved every moment.

Awesome views! Trail was easy and beautiful.

Love it! We’ve been going for years and the views never get old

Definitely the place to view the sunset on a clear night. There are a few parking spots near the rock itself but a better bet is to park at the bottom of the gravel road across from the Nature Center and walk the half mile up, as turning around in the limited parking area can be tough. Lots of room to sit on the rocks and enjoy, even when there are 50 or 60 other people with the same plan. A must see in Highlands!

Beautiful views from a number of lookouts and cliffs, wildflowers all along the way in August/early September. Great for dogs on a leash, kids of all ages, only about an hour roundtrip unless you stop for lots of photos or a picnic (both of which are highly recommended).

18 days ago

Straight down! Slippery gravel in places. Beautiful payoff!! Watch out for snakes as you step across the rocks at the bottom... saw one curled up in the air right in our path... difficult to see unless you were looking directly at it.

18 days ago

Hard is right!

nice trail. follow directions on the webpage link. no 4wd needed. great views ! Jones knob spur trail is a must. steep... but worth it. can see whiterock mountain from Jones knob among other mountains.. then retrace your steps and then head to whiterock. I camped there. theres two fire rings and spots for tents and hammocks. make sure you walk all the way down to the bare rock face. it's down the hill a bit. amazing views here! hard to beat these views because of the large rock face.

Probably my favorite short hike near Highlands. We went today, Labor Day, thinking that it might be crowded but it was completely empty and never once saw another hiker. The waterfall is a perfect ending to this relatively easy hike. I highly recommend it.

20 days ago

Glen Falls is one of the most popular hikes near Highlands. For that reason, I’d say to avoid it if you are one that looks to avoid crowds. The falls are beautiful, but the sheer amount of people and dogs takes away from the enjoyment. If you go past the railing at the bottom and continue down the ‘trail’ it will put you out at the very bottom of the falls, which is a nice treat.

Nice little uphill hike that ends with a few different ‘lookouts’. It starts at the entrance to Glen Falls (go right instead of left). It will wind it’s way slightly downhill to the creek and then begins a slow climb along the creek, passing thru the water a few times. There are plenty of adequately placed stones to stay dry. Once you get to the last crossing, if you turn back to the right, apparently that takes you back up to a parking lot (so we were told). Hang to the left and start the ascent up Chinquapin. You’ll arrive at a fork to either head right to Little Scaly or left up to Chinquapin. Head to the left and eventually you’ll arrive at ‘Lookout 5’, which is the best of the outlooks. Head up the trail if you wanna check the others, but 1-3 or more of a hike thru the brush and not located directly on the trail. We quite enjoyed it!

24 days ago

fantastic hike to a gorgeous waterfall...the hike in is a breeze because you go down hill most of the trail so coming out is a workout

24 days ago

Went here right after Christmas of 2017. Falls was half way frozen with massive icicles! Short “hike” but one of the best waterfalls around the area. Kids 7 & 4 absolutely loved this one.

on Secret Falls Trail

26 days ago

I absolutely loved this trail. Now, first off let me say there were lots of trees down but...It was a beautiful trail with lots of rare flowers. The waterfall was spectacular and there was not a single person the whole hike ( which I loved). Easy to Moderate is what I would rate this one. I do wish they would remove all the downed trees but a beautiful hike nonetheless.

29 days ago

What a gorgeous waterfall where you can walk behind it and get cooled off. Easy stair walkway and easy access from paved parking lot. Such a great area, very green and lush surroundings. This would be a beautiful place to get married too!

29 days ago

What an amazing waterfall, very powerful and fun as you’re making your way down the trail, very rocky trail and quite treacherous. Natural beauty and one of my favorite waterfalls ever.

Took four kids ages 8 to 16 and a dog. They all loved it. It was a big of a climb at some points. We walked up to whiterock and back down to parking lot. View was really nice, we walked down the rock to the edge to get a good picture, it was a little nerveracking but we kept a good eye on the kids and dog. They could have got right off.

This was a rather easy hike. especially if you go left first, it makes the trail easier. but this one was one of the most rewarding hikes i have ever been on! the most beautiful scenes at the top, and this was not too hard of a trail. a MUST!

I live up here and this is my favorite hike to take especially when fall hits.

Beautiful! Definitely worth the stop.

Really great hike. Good trail for beginners as there are not many difficult parts to it, but one is still rewarded with breathtaking views. I suggest going around noon or in the afternoon as in the morning the views are a little limited.

I must see what an adventure

This trail offers a steep hike through a nice forest to a series of beautiful waterfalls. However, there is very limited space available for viewing these falls, and the crowds detract from any possibility of a wilderness experience. The falls are very popular and located just outside of the Highlands city limits. If you hike this trail and want a chance to enjoy the falls, get there very early.

Great hike especially with younger hikers. Awesome views and a real sense of you made it to the top for the young ones.

1 month ago

Recent monsoons have made the flow twice the normal flow!

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