Secret Wall Falls Hike Route Map

Secret Wall (Still) Falls (9-22-18)

Secret Wall Falls (also known as Still Falls) is a small cascade located off the Dobson Knob ridge just to the west of Linville Gorge. An all-but-unknown waterfall, the area it lies in is more popular among the climbing community than amongst waterfallers. Nearby to the cascade is a series of high broken cliffs, known as the Secret Wall, which offer a nice visual bonus to the short hike described here. The path to the falls runs right along the top edge of the cliffs providing some nice panoramic views of the surrounding hills and even the distant Lake James to the south. Secret Wall Falls itself isn’t all that impressive, though the broken stair-step-like cliff over which it flows makes for an interesting form for the delicate cascade. That said, however, this is a waterfall which is very much reliant on healthy amounts of rain to make it look its best. On my visit it was pretty healthy but, reading other reports of summer visits, it frequently is reduced to barely a trickle during extended dry spells. If you can manage to hit it at just the right time, however, it’s a pleasantly easy destination to visit if one finds themselves in the area.

The route I followed on this visit is the one described in Kevin Adams' North Carolina Waterfalls. It starts at a small pull off alongside the brown Forest Service gate on Forest Road 106, 2.6-miles from its junction with the Kistler Memorial Highway. You may find, like I did, that the gate is open at this point which means you could drive another 0.5-miles down the road to where the true footpath begins (saving a round-trip mile of walking). I’m not certain, however, how often this is the case so I just decided to do the hike including the road-walk. So, starting from the aforementioned gate, the hike began with a half-mile walk down Forest Road 106. It’s a road-walk so there’s not much to say about it other than it’s pretty easy and straight forward. About four-tenths of a mile from the gate you’ll pass a campsite on the right and the road begins a gradual climb. A short time later the road opens up as it passes a large grassy pull-off on the left and you’ll need to start looking for a large oak tree with a faded blue blaze on the left as well. This tree marks the start of the trail down to the cliffs and the falls. Once on the trail the route starts descending in a series of short switchbacks and, within another couple tenths-of-a-mile arrives at a T-junction near the edge of the cliffs. To the left a short spur leads out to a wonderful overlook with panoramic views of nearby Dobson Knob along with Lake James and the South Mountains in the far distance. The route to the falls turns right at the junction, however, as the path skirts along the top of the cliffs for another tenth-of-a-mile before beginning a short but steep descent to the forest beneath them. Shortly after starting the descent watch for a faint path breaking right. This is the path to the waterfall. The more well-worn path continues straight ahead and serves as an access route for climbers to the base of the cliffs. It’s a worthwhile side-trip to head down this climbers path as the cliffs are impressive to see from their base. There’s also a fascinating little cascade which flows directly out of the rocks in a tiny grotto a short distance down as well.

Back on the path to the waterfall the route continues to undulate along the hillside for about a quarter-mile before reaching another high, broken rock wall where Secret Wall Falls is located. As stated above, this isn’t the most impressive waterfall. Even at decent flow like the day I visited the stream of water cascading from the edge of the cliffs is tiny. Tumbling down around 25-feet the stream of water fans out into multiple drops as it cascades over the many stepped layers of rock below. It has a delicate beauty but it’s by no means awe-inspiring. Combined with the cliff views from earlier, however, it makes for a very pleasant destination. The route back simply retraces the route in making for a fairly easy 2.5 mile (1.5-miles if you parked at the alternate trailhead) round-trip hike. Overall this is a pleasant little hike, though I certainly wouldn’t go out of your way to visit. If you’re in the area already (perhaps you’ve already visited the wonderful nearby Yellow Fork Falls) I would certainly make the stop though. Just make sure its rained recently or you might be disappointed. With that I invite you to join me on my short easy trek to Secret Wall Falls…as always, ENJOY!!


Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.820043, -81.958960

Alternate Trailhead (if gate is open):  35.819121, -81.967897


Route Type:  Out-and-back        Difficulty:  MODERATE  (Petzoldt Rating:  3.20 )

Hike Length:  2.5 miles                Hike Duration:  1:30

Trailhead Temp:  75'F                  Trail Traffic:  1-5 people

Min. Elevation:  2,800'                  Max. Elevation:  3,000'

Total Vertical Gain:  300'             Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  120'


Trails Used (blaze color):  Secret Wall Path (unblazed)


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