Highlands Travel Guide

  • Secret Falls
    Secret Falls
    by jmpncsu
  • Top of Bridal Veil Falls
    Top of Bridal Veil Falls
    by jmpncsu
  • Dry Falls
    Dry Falls
    by jmpncsu

Highlands Things to Do

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    by jmpncsu Written Aug 15, 2013

    Quarry Falls is a smaller waterfall between Dry Falls and Cullasaja Falls along US-64 in the Cullasaja River Gorge. It's a 20-foot cascade named for a quarry that used to be across the street. This is probably the least impressive of the four main waterfalls in the gorge. But in warmer months, it's a very popular swim hole and you'll undoubtedly see folks sliding down the waterfall. Expect a crowd when the weather is nice. There is a decent size pulloff on the side of the highway so parking is much easier than Cullasaja Falls.

    Quarry Falls Quarry Falls
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    • National/State Park

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  • jmpncsu's Profile Photo

    by jmpncsu Updated Aug 15, 2013

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    Cullasaja Falls is the last waterfall on the Cullasaja River as it winds through the gorge on US-64, roughly half way between Highlands and Franklin. It's a beautiful 250-foot waterfall. Unfortunately, there isn't really a good way to view the falls. The viewing area is located on a treacherous stretch of narrow winding highway with no safe spot to stop and enjoy the view. It's possible to see the falls from the road while driving. But to stop and see the falls, extreme caution must be used to avoid a serious traffic accident. A small pulloff is located on the side of the road, but there's only room for a car or two. If coming from Highlands on US-64 west, the pulloff will be on the left side of the road. Rather than trying to cross traffic in the middle of a narrow curve, drive past the pulloff, make a U-turn and the pulloff will be on the right side of the road. Make sure that your car is completely off the road! This is a US highway and tractor trailers drive this stretch of road. If your car is parked in the road, it may cause a deadly collision. From this pulloff, there are good views of the falls. There is also a very steep trail leading down to the base. The trail is short, but extremely steep. If the trail is wet, it will be impossible to get back up so avoid going down to the base. You can only see the lower portion of the falls from here anyway. So, Cullasaja Falls is definitely worth a quick stop. Just use care and common sense to avoid an accident.

    Cullasaja Falls Cullasaja Falls
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • National/State Park

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  • jmpncsu's Profile Photo

    by jmpncsu Updated Aug 15, 2013

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    Dry Falls is probably the most impressive waterfall in the Cullasaja River Gorge. At 80 feet, it's very big and powerful. It is located just 3 miles west of Highlands on US-64 in Nantahala National Forest. The Forest Service has constructed some very nice amenities for this day use area in the past couple of years. There is a large parking lot just off the highway, a vault toilet, picnic benches, and a short trail leading to and under the falls. Part of this trail is handicapped accessible so even those who can't do stairs can see the beautiful waterfall. Dry Falls is named "dry" because there is a large natural grotto behind the waterfall so visitors can walk behind the falls while staying dry. Of course this depends on the water level. The pictures included in this tip were taken during very high water levels in the summer of 2013 and so I did get a bit wet walking behind the falls. The photo opportunities here are great, because you can literally shoot from every angle possible - front, behind, and both sides - all while staying on the well-maintained trail. So if you're in the Highlands area, don't miss the opportunity to see this beautiful waterfall.

    Dry Falls Dry Falls
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Photography
    • National/State Park

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Highlands Hotels

See all 13 Hotels in Highlands
  • Old Edwards Inn And Spa

    445 Main Street, Highlands, NC, 28741

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Families

  • Mountain High Lodge

    200 Main Street, Highlands, North Carolina, 28741, United States

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

  • Hampton Inn Highlands

    Hwy 106 & Spring St, Highlands, NC 28741

    Satisfaction: Poor

    Good for: Business

  • 4-1/2 Street Inn

    55 4-1/2 Street, Highlands, North Carolina, 28741, United States

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Business

  • Fire Mountain Inn, Cabins and Treehouses

    700 Happy Hill Road, , HIGHLANDS, NORTH CAROLINA 2

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Business

  • Fire Mountain

    700 HAPPY HILL ROAD, Highlands, NC 28741

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Business

  • Highlands House Bed &Breakfast

    101 Potter Lane, Highlands, North Carolina, 28741, United States

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

  • The Inn at Half Mile Farm

    214 Half Mile Drive, P.O. Box 2769, Highlands, North Carolina, 28741, United States

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Business

  • Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

    541 Hickory Street, Highlands, North Carolina, 28741, United States

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

Highlands Off The Beaten Path

  • jmpncsu's Profile Photo

    by jmpncsu Written Aug 3, 2013

    Secret Falls is a little off the beaten trail, but calling it's really not much of a "secret". At least not any more. Secret Falls is located just south of Highlands, almost to the Georgia state line. From the main intersection downtown Highlands, head east on Main Street, which becomes Horse Cove Road as it leaves town. (From US-64 W, turn left at the light; from US-64 E, go straight at the light). Horse Cove Road is a windy and narrow and after about 3.5 miles, turn right on Walkingstick Road (SR 1608). This road is gravel and narrow. In about 2.5 miles, bear right at a fork onto a forest road and park at the pulloff about a quarter mile from here. This forest road is gated in the winter, so if you come then, you'll have to walk an extra quarter-mile to the trailhead. There is a sign for Big Shoals Trail. It used to be more difficult to get to the falls without trespassing on private property. But the forest service built the Big Shoals Trail, which is a nice trail to the falls and less than a mile long. Just follow the blue blazes.

    The waterfall itself is a nice 50-foot drop into a shallow pool. At one time, this waterfall on Big Creek was a secret that only a few locals new about. But with the internet and guide books, it's becoming a little more well known. Despite this fact, you're not likely to encounter a lot of people here and there's a good chance you can have the waterfall to yourself. If the weather is nice, you can wade out into the pool and shots of the falls from different angles. And part of the pool is deep enough to take a swim if the weather is warm (the water is never warm though). There is even a small sandy beach to sit and enjoy the falls and you can climb up on the rocks next to the falls and get behind it if the water level is not too high. Just use extreme caution as wet rocks are very slippery. Just downstream of the falls and pool, there are a few more rocky cascades that you can climb out onto. So if you're exploring waterfalls in the Highlands area, come out and discover the secret!

    Secret Falls Big Creek Downstream of Secret Falls
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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