Secret Falls

Nantahala National Forest

Secret Falls may not be too secret but it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the area.
(Video: 4 minutes 3 seconds)
+more (video transcript)
Deep inside the Nantahala National Forest is the not so secret - Secret Falls. This 50ft beauty is absolutely stunning and we highly recommend it. It has good water flow, pours into a beautiful pool, has a few cascades just below the pool, and is remote yet relatively easy to reach - only a 1/2 mile one-way hike. Visiting secret falls is more of an experience that will likely become a favorite like it did for us.

The Nantahala National Forest is the largest National Forest in the state of North Carolina spanning over 830 square miles; almost the entire Western tip of the state. It is a mountainous region with numerous rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and popular North Carolina attractions.

The trailhead to Secret Falls is located just off the remote and unpaved forest road FR4567 or Big Creek Road. You approach from Highlands North Carolina heading East out of town on Horse Cove Rd for about 4 miles. Turn right onto the unpaved Walking Stick Road and continue for about another 3 miles. The sign for Big Creek Road may not be visible but it should be about 1/4 mile past a bridge crossing. Big Creek Road may also be gated which means you will have to park and walk the last quarter mile to the trailhead which is just up the road on the left. There are no restroom facilities onsite. The trailhead is only about 6 miles from downtown Highlands but you will feel like you are much further away from civilization while on this hike.

The trail starts from an obvious pull-off section off Big Creek Road. There is a trailhead marker but it is set back off the road. The trail is marked with blue blazes and is very easy to follow. The trail gradually works its way down to the falls with a few easy creek crossings. The trail is mostly downhill the entire hike to the falls with only a short uphill section. As you reach the falls, you can get a quick view from the top before heading down some steps to the base of the falls.

Secret Falls is a wonderful stop to visit. You will be right between the falls and a series of small cascades as the river turns below you and wanders off into the forest. It is remote, loud and very beautiful.

The large pool at the base of the falls is perfect for wading or getting your feet wet during the warm summer months. Just be careful with the kids and keep them away from the cascades as the river reforms and continues down the mountain.

This is an out and back hike, so when you are finished enjoying your time at Secret Falls, hike safely back to the parking area.
Secret Falls of Highlands, NC
Cascade Below Secret Falls
Secret Falls with Cascade
Cascades at Secret Falls
Downstream of Secret Falls
Address & GPS
Big Creek Rd
Highlands, NC 28741
35.008647N, -83.166463W
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Weather Details & Forecast
52% Humidity
Patchy rain possible
Patchy rain possible
80% Humidity
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy
64% Humidity
Patchy rain possible
Patchy rain possible
81% Humidity
Nearby Attractions
Scotsman Falls (3.1 mi.)
Spoonauger Falls (3.9 mi.)
King Creek Falls (3.9 mi.)
Glen Falls (4.3 mi.)
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