High Falls on South Fork Mills River (5-17-15)
High Falls (not to be confused with the handful of other 'High' Falls in Transylvania County alone) is certainly not the largest or most impressive waterfall in the area but what it lacks for in size it makes up for in the journey there and simple, serene beauty. At around 4-miles round-trip the hike out to the falls wasn't a major undertaking but if you're thinking of visiting for yourself there are a couple things you should know. First, bring a map. Though the first half of the hike is along the well-traveled South Mills River Trail the latter half of the hike is along a much lesser used and unofficial spur trail which follows the north bank of the South Fork. Secondly, unless you're willing to get your feet you're not going to see this falls. A quarter mile or so above High Falls you need to ford the South Fork Mills River. As Kevin Adams advises in his book...take a look at the river at the trailhead, if it looks to unsafe to ford at that point don't even bother heading out. On this visit the area was experiencing a prolonged period of dry weather and the stream was shin to knee deep and the current was still surprisingly strong.
All that said, this was still a fun and relatively easy hike. The unofficial trail which takes you to the falls was not nearly as hard to follow as I anticipated, the wildflowers were abundant, and the ford added just a hint of adventure making for a memorable couple hours in the forest. Come on along with me to one of the lesser known and visited waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.366459, -82.739075
Route Type: Out-and-back Difficulty: HARD (due to ill-defined route & deep ford)
Hike Length: 4.0 miles Hike Duration: 1:45
Trailhead Temp: 75'F Trail Traffic: 5-10 people
Min. Elevation: 2,950' Max. Elevation: 3,150'
Total Vertical Gain: 200' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 50'
Trails Used (Blaze Color):
South Mills River (white), High Falls Spur (unblazed)