High Falls (Beech Creek)
The creek can have a decent flow during wet weather, but it spreads out wide across this bumpy rock outcrop, forming lots of little falls over the mini ledges and giving it lots of character.
- Height: 150 ft
- Elevation: 3997 ft
- Stream: Beech Creek
- Landowner: Nantahala National Forest
- GPS: 35.014814, -83.527937
From the intersection of US Hwys. 441 and 76 in Clayton, GA, travel west on US 76 for about 8 miles. Turn right on Persimmon Road. Go 4.1 miles and bear left on Tallulah River Road. There are signs for the National Forest & Campground. Follow this road for 7.5 miles through National Forest property along the river and, later, the small rural community of Tate "City". The road turns to gravel, and re-enters North Carolina. After re-entering the National Forest in NC, the Beech Creek trailhead parking is on the left - park here.
The hike to the falls is difficult and about 5 miles (round-trip) in length. The Beech Creek trail starts across and back down the road a bit; start the hike there. The trail climbs steeply up the ridge through a series of switchbacks. Follow the switchbacks rather than the steep, eroded shortcut trail going straight up the mountain. The trail will crest the ridge and start descending again - steeply at one point - to reach Beech Creek.
Cross Beech Creek. It may be possible to rock-hop here, or you may have to get your feet wet in higher water, and it will be impassable in a flood. Here you're in a dying or dead former hemlock forest. Pick up the trail leading upstream and away from the creek on the other side. The trail merges with an old roadbed shortly; bear left. You'll cross a few smaller tributary streams that might be dry, and then cross the creek in Bull Cove which should have water in all weather. This crossing is much larger and has a deep pool above the rock-hop area at the edge of the old road bed. On the other side of the crossing is an trail heading upstream along the creek. You can follow this a few hundred yards for a side trip to the falls in Bull Cove if you wish.
Continue along the old road bed, passing a rusty old gate. The road descends to the creek and crosses it a second time. After this, the trail begins climbing steeply and relentlessly with the scenic creek on the right. During very wet weather, a few side streams may form small waterfalls on the left. You'll cross a couple of landslide scars from events that occurred during the flooding in 2004, from the remnants of hurricanes Frances and Ivan. The trail has been re-constructed in those areas.
You'll pass an old rock wall structure on the left, and the trail enters a left hand switchback just beyond. The trail makes another hairpin to the right, and then another back to the left. At this second left-hand switchback, there may be a sign pointing to High Falls. Take the trail leading straight off the end of the switchback toward the creek. This follows an old road bed for a short distance and then the trail descends steeply to the creek. Follow the path/creek upstream a few hundred more feet to reach the base of the falls.