056 – Mingo Falls

Accessibility – Easy+

Height: Approx 120′

Distance – 0.5 miles w/150+ steps (out and back)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 6

GPS Info: LAT 35.5318 LONG -83.2747

Last updated – 04/01/2017


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Mingo Falls is located in Cherokee, NC on the Qualla Indian Reservation. As I’ve only been there once, the only way I know to get there is to take NC19 South from the Blue Ridge Parkway in Maggie Valley into Cherokee and make a right onto NC441. Follow NC441 to Acquioni Road and make a right. After crossing over the river make a left onto Big Cove Road. Follow this for 4.5 miles until you pass the KOA (Mingo Falls) Campground. Start looking for Mingo Falls Bridge Road on your right. Parking for the trailhead is across the bridge. The trailhead is in the back of the parking area. There might be a quicker way, Google knows best in these situations.

The trail to the falls is 0.25 of a mile, most of which involves climbing in excess of 150 steps. At the top of the steps the trail follows the left side of a ridge until arriving at a small wooden bridge over Mingo Creek at the base of the falls. You can shoot the falls from the bridge but capturing the full height isn’t going to be easy. You can also shoot it in isolations. The base of the falls is a collection point for downfall and debris so this will affect the shot. My only visit was in November of 2014 and the falls was covered in icicles but there was decent water flow. The water looked like it was coming down in parallel ribbons.

The hike is kid friendly as long as your kid likes steps. In these situations I tell my daughter that I need an accurate counting of the steps for my waterfall website. Given this task, she doesn’t complain about the ascent. By her count it was 155.

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Mingo Falls – November 2014
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The upper section of Mingo Falls – November 2014
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All 120+ feet of it – November 2014