Destination: Cullowhee: High Falls

Cullowhee, there’s a problem. These days, as all days around this valley, it’s hard to walk around campus without hearing students gripe about how little there is to do around here. It’s true that we don’t have colossal malls, trendy little coffee shops serving mocha- frapa- whatever, or not even one night club that charges $15 just to get inside. However, Cullowhee is practically surrounded with some truly breathtaking outdoor sights and exhilarating excursions. We at the Western Carolinian vow to bring these sights to our public readership, because calling home and saying you saw a waterfall sounds better than telling your parents about last night’s party.

The first installment of Destination: Cullowhee takes us to High Falls, NC. High Falls is without a doubt one of the most impressive natural waterfalls in the area. Two waterfalls actually flow into each other at High Falls, amounting to a total height in excess of 200 feet. There’s something about a 200-foot column of rushing water that makes you feel small, but in the same moment so powerful, to know something like this exists. This is a great spot to spend an afternoon, picnic, or just do some sightseeing.

The falls are part of the west fork of the Tuckaseigee, which runs right through Cullowhee. Water has been carving its way down the High Falls cliff face for centuries, chipping away at the soft rock beneath the surface. Eventually the rock crumbles, and the end result is water running its course over the hollowed out area where rock used to be. Presto: waterfall.

High Falls is about a twenty minute drive toward Cashiers. After about 10 miles of curvy mountain road up Hwy- 107, turn right into Shoal Creek Mountain Road. From there, the rest is an easily-walkable trail. Wear comfortable shoes you can hike in, as you’re in for about a two-mile walk, or about half an hour at a slow pace. The trail is beautifully maintained and easy to follow; hiking experience is a plus but not necessary.

DISCLAIMER: We highly suggest you stay away from the water itself. As should be obvious, 200 feet of waterfall is as dangerous as it is beautiful. Water rushing with such speed could sweep you off your feet quickly for a very long, very unpleasant fall.