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Up to the top of Big Green Mountain, then over the top of Little Green Mountain.

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4,188' 1,276 m


3,662' 1,116 m


1,173' 358 m


1,172' 357 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (19°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Geological Significance · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Trails flood after periods of heavy rain or persistent wet weather.


This hike features a passage along the Great Wall (the rock face of Big Green Mountain), a visit to Granny Burrell Falls, a climb up over Little Green Mountain, which offers some spectacular slickrock/bald hiking and magnificent views from the top, and finishes off with a visit to Schoolhouse Falls.

Need to Know

Trails flood after periods of heavy rain or persistent wet weather. Dry crossings are not possible on some sections of the Great Wall #489 trail. Many of the roots, bridges, and stairs can be VERY slippery when wet. There are two deep creek crossings on Mac's Gap Trail #482, at the beginning with no dry options, so best to avoid in the winter months.


This hike begins at the Cold Mountain parking area. The trail entrance to Mac's Gap Trail #482, is a short hike back down the road leading to the parking lot, off to the right. Mac's Gap Trail #482 is a rather sandy, washed out trail, but relatively flat. About 0.5 miles in, you'll need to cross Greenland Creek, which is a knee deep crossing with no rock hop or dry option. Once across, continue on Mac's Gap Trail #482 until the intersection with Big Green #487 and take a left. If you choose, you can continue up to the summit of Big Green Mountain, but there is no reward for this section of the hike.

Either way, continue onto Great Wall #489 trail from the intersection with Big Green #487. Follow Great Wall #489 as it descends rock cutouts on the face of the trail, 3 wooden staircases, and one bridge to the low-lying portion of the trail. Once on the lower section, the trail heads through low lying pine forests and several clearings. The trail here can get VERY muddy after rain, with no dry option to cross many of the wet sections. Continuing along, you'll approach the 'Great Wall' of Big Green Mountain, which one can only see during the winter months.

There are several large boulders strewn about the field below, and you can access a few to get up close views. Moving on, you'll pass a large shelter for group camping before reaching the intersection with Granny Burrell Falls Trail #486. Granny Burrell Falls Trail #486 is a trail that also remains very wet and has a few muddy crossings with no dry option. This trail is also mostly through some very tight Rhododendron tunnels, which make a very unique passing.

About 0.2 miles in, you'll see an access point on the left to go view the falls. This area opens up to a very large clearing where one can walk out on the flat rocky surface and view the falls and pool at the bottom. Continuing on, take a right at the next intersection which puts you back on Mac's Gap Trail #482. Follow Mac's Gap Trail #482 to Little Green Trail #485, which will be the second intersection, and make a left. This begins the ascent up Little Green Trail #485. Head up the wood steps to the top.

You'll start crossing various sections of slickrock/bald which make this trail pretty spectacular. After crossing over the summit, the trail will descend many natural root formed steps, which after may be very slick after periods of wet weather. At the bottom of this descent you'll reach Schoolhouse Falls. To access, just veer off the trail to the right slightly and look for the many footpaths going to the pool below.

To finish up the hike, set off from the falls back up to the trail and continue on crossing over the long wooden boardwalk back to Panthertown Valley Trail #474. Take a right over the concrete bridge and simply follow the gravel road until it ends. Once at the end, make a right, hop up on the small wooden riser crossing over the mud, and follow the rooty trail to the top. You'll exit the trail behind the wooden kiosk and the parking area will be visible on the left.


Shared By:

Glint Gossamer

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  4.3 from 3 votes
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1,323 Since Dec 26, 2019



Schoolhouse Falls along the Panthertown Valley trail
Aug 13, 2019 near Cullowhee, NC
Granny Burrell Falls.
May 29, 2017 near Cullowhee, NC
The School House Falls are one of the highlights of the Panthertown Valley Loop.
Dec 21, 2015 near Cullowhee, NC
Granny Burrell Falls.
Dec 26, 2019 near Cullowhee, NC
Rhododendron tunnel.
Dec 26, 2019 near Cullowhee, NC
View from a top Little Green Mountain Trail.
Dec 26, 2019 near Cullowhee, NC



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