Secret Falls

Categories: Waterfalls, Backcountry Camping, Hikes to waterfalls, Fishing for Wild Trout, Swimming Holes, Adventure Waterfalls


  •  Excellent & secluded waterfall via easy hike 
  •  Approx. 50-60 Ft. Falls 
  •  Great swimming hole at bottom 
  •  Access to both the top and bottom by well-worn trails (top is a little more difficult) 
  •  Wild trout fishing (single-hook, artificial fishing only, 7 inch min., 4 fish limit, N.C. License required)
  •  Backcountry campsite near falls located on access trail
  •  Near NC/GA state line

The Local Scoop

This is called Secret Falls due to it's remote location and because few people really know about it. We recommend this hike/waterfall to the entire family. The trail is easy with two simple creek crossings at around 8 minutes into your hike.  After navigating the second crossing via log over the small creek, you'll head up hill for a short distance.  When you level off, notice an intersecting trail to your left (Blue Blazed/metal plates on large white pine) at around 12 minutes. Take this short trail down to a primitive campsite/fire ring.  You can hear the falls from here and you'll notice a couple of trails continuing on through the campsite, one down and to the left, and one down and to the right. You'll want to explore both trails, take the left one first. This will bring you out on the top of the near 60 Ft. falls. Please be careful here, especially if you have your small children children with you. Keep their hand in yours here. The view is excellent of the pool below the roaring falls. Retrace your path back to where you saw the trail to the right (from the campsite)l.  Pick this trail up that runs parallel to the falls and eventually turns into wooden steps all the way to where it bottoms out at the creek. Bring your bathing suits for a dip in the pool below or bring your fishing pole for some wild trout fishing (remember it's single-hook/artivicial only). You're only a couple of miles from the Georgia/NC line.  Also, there are two primitive campsites near the falls.  The one you will pass on the way to the falls and one at the creeks edge.  The first one is ideal for a couple of smaller tents. The one on the creek's edge would be more ideal for a fire only.  Be advised, some national forest regulations prohibit building campsites and fire rings anywhere within 500 feet of a creek, so use your best judgement on this one.  We recommend setting camp at your first option.

The Local Directions

From main intersection of U.S. Hwy-64/ N.C. Hwy-28 in Highlands, NC drive through main street until the road turns into Horse Cove Road (just past Mtn. Fresh Grocery on your Right). Drive for 3.6 miles through approx. 40 curves and finally to Horse Cove and "Walkingstick Road", take a Right here. The road is gravel and rough in spots. Drive 2.9 miles to F.R. (Forsest Road) #4567 on your Right (you'll have to be paying attention, the F.R. will be on you immediate Right 0.3 mile after you cross a bridge (Big Creek). Park in small parking area and pick up trail @ brown trail sign reading, "Big Shoals Trail 0.2 mi.". The trail is relatively flat. You'll cross two creeks about 8 minutes into your hike, continuing until an intersecting trail to the left (Blue Blazed/metal plates on large white pine). Take this down to falls, you'll hear them by now.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Hike4What's this?
  • Camp7What's this?
  • Waterfalls5What's this?
  • Fishing4/5What's this?
Trailhead:  35.00629, -83.16434
Waterfall:  35.004761,-83.170238
Hike Distance
0.4 mile (one-way)
Moderate via "Horse Cove Road"
& "Walking Stick Road"
Nearest City
Macon County
Distance From
Highlands, 6.6 miles