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High Shoals Falls Loop Trail



1.4 mile 2.3 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 483' 147 m
Descent: -469' -143 m
High: 1,875' 572 m
Low: 1,392' 424 m


Avg Grade: 13% (7°)
Max Grade: 31% (17°)


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A wonderful loop trail with magnificent falls and lots of geological interest.

Charles Pulse

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Waterfall

The ruggedness around the High Shoal Falls can be deadly. It is advised that visitors stay on the designated path all the way to the top of the gorge.


From the Jacob's Fork parking lot, find the well-signed trailhead for the Hemlock Nature Trail. Take this trail for about 1/3 of a mile. This trail runs beside the Jacob's Fork River through a variety of trees and flowers and has educational displays posted periodically along the trail. The Hemlock Nature Trail ends at the beginning of the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail.

The High Shoals Falls Trail continues on for another 1/3 of a mile alongside the river to a fork in the trail. This fork marks the beginning and the end of the trail's loop. To the right is the longest distance to the top of the gorge but the slope is not as steep as to the left. Park Rangers recommend the right fork direction for those backpacking to the many backcountry tent camps throughout the park.

To the left is a steeper trail. Its path is boulder-strewn and much of the trail is stair-stepped in order to allow passage through the rugged terrain. Views are excellent. First, there is Jacob's Fork River, then multiple smaller falls, followed by the main 80 foot falls. A platform exists at that point to provide better viewing of this set of falls. From the platform, take the stairs upward to the top of the falls. From there the trail levels and looks down upon Jacob's Creek.

Eventually, the trail merges with the Upper Falls Trail. Veer off to the right on the combined trail. The combined trail travels upward for another quarter of a mile. The High Shoals Loop then splits to the right. The remainder of this trail travels downward through a hardwood/pine forest to the bottom of the gorge where the loop is completed.

As a bonus, the High Shoals Falls Trail has educational displays along the trail giving information about the various geological formations that make up the gorge.

Flora & Fauna

Pines.hemlocks, oaks, maples , beeches, rhododendrons and mountain laurels. Several species of birds.

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know


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May 18, 2019
Jason Ellison
Apr 27, 2019
Chris Clamp
Apr 27, 2019
Abby Gheen
steep rocks and stairs going up the left side of loop along with lots of people going to see the falls. The righ side coming down is less crowded a… — 3h 30m
Apr 27, 2019
Jackson Price
Mar 30, 2019
Andrea Escondo
Mar 17, 2019
Kevin Heimbrook
Jan 6, 2019
Hiked with McCartney. 3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 15 votes


  4.2 from 15 votes
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in North Carolina


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1,000 Since Mar 29, 2016



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