Glenville’s High Falls
by Brian O'Shea
High Falls is a short hike off Pine Creek Road in Glenville. Hiking down the path sets visitors at the base of an approximately 150-foot waterfall cascading down the two-tiered cliffs of the Tuckasegee Gorge.
The view is incredible and well-worth the effort to get there. The trail to High Falls, a.k.a. Cullowhee Falls, is less than a mile with an elevation change of over 600 feet. Please note, the hike out is strenuous. The trail is listed as “moderate” on several trail sites online, but it’s a steep one.
There are signs throughout the hike warning of hazards related to rocks, steep slopes and cliffs, and that death or injury are possible. This is unnerving, especially to families who want to bring their kids. Yes, the signs are there for a reason, but common sense will prevail. Take your time moving down the path, the rocks are slippery from the falls no matter what the weather may be like and stay on the marked trail. The trail has two tiers of falls and hikers sometimes veer from the path to play on the second tier – this is illegal and ill-advised.
When visitors get to the base of the falls, there are two scenarios hikers stumble upon. Most of the time the falls are a gorgeous cascading trickle through the dam at Lake Glenville, but once a month Duke Power releases the dam to the delight of kayakers looking to run the six-mile stretch of whitewater created by the release. This is high water and visitors should exercise extreme caution. The next release date is scheduled from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. on August 10.
If there is no scheduled release, the water level will be low and there are plenty of rocks to climb around and explore the West Fork Tuckasegee River. There is also a swimming hole at the base of the falls, but again there is an emphasis on exercising caution. Rocks litter the riverbed and in the summer months snakes are prevalent, so watch where you step and leave the wildlife alone.
High Falls is located by taking Highway 107 from Cashiers to Pine Creek Road (can only turn left), take that approximately two miles to Pines Recreation Area on your left. The parking lot for High Falls trailhead is on the right.