262 – Glen Falls (Upper)

Accessibility – Moderate+

Height: Approx 50′

Distance – 1.4 (out and back) all 4 falls

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 5

Solitude – 3

GPS Info: LAT 35.03125 LONG -83.23830

Last updated – 08-11-2018


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What is referred to as Glen Falls is really three distinct waterfalls located on the same short stretch of the East Fork Overflow Creek in Highlands. The Upper and Middle sections are the most scenic of the trio while the lower falls is less impressive. There is even another drop further downstream that is nicer than the lower falls.

Getting to Glen Falls for most involves a short drive down NC106 from the split with US64 in Highlands. There is a signed parking area and a downhill hike to the falls that is heavy trafficked. I can’t speak to this route since my visit began at an alternate location. After a stop at Picklesimer Rockhouse Falls and Chasm Falls, we were heading back up Blue Valley Road toward NC28 when my friend Stephanie asked me to turn onto a unnamed forest road where Blue Valley Road reached a kiosk. At the end of this road we beaded up a defined trail and reached the lower drop at Glen Falls first.

To get to Glen Falls via Blue Valley Road, start at the intersection of US64 and NC28 in Highlands, heading South on NC28. Follow this for 5.9 miles and turn right onto Blue Valley Road. There are numerous campsites on the road. Blue Valley Road eventually becomes FR79 and when it does it transitions from paved to gravel. I didn’t get the mileage but at one point Blue Valley Road comes to a T and veers to the left, Make a right and follow the unnamed forest road about half a mile to a turnaround. Park here.

The trail leaves the uphill side of the clearing and follows an uphill course toward the falls. At one point you will pass a waterfall down off the trail. This is an unnamed waterfall below Glen Falls (Glen Falls Downstream). There is a barely visible scramble that leads down a steep bank to the falls. If you want to see what’s down there, click the Glen Falls Downstream link.

Next up on the hike the trail is going to come to a T. If you head to the left the trail will make its way to a small clearing below the third drop at Glen Falls. This bottom section of the falls is the least scenic but it’s worth a stop if you’re coming at this from below. If you started at the top and are coming down the hill, you can omit Glen Falls (Lower). If you want to see if it’s worth the effort, click the link. Did I mention the lower falls is collecting dead hemlock trunks?

Return to the T and make left, heading up the hill. It is maybe 0.2 of a mile before you get to Glen Falls, which is a tall cascading waterfall. It is probably 50 feet high with lots of ledges and drops. The best vantage for taking a photo is on the other side of a viewing area that was placed in a conspicuously poor location to view much of anything. If you do head out onto the rocks, be aware that there is more falling water behind you and a poorly chosen step comes with consequences.

From Glen Falls to Glen Falls (Upper) is another 0.25 of a mile on a relatively steep trail that switchbacks up the mountain. Like the second drop, the upper drop as a poorly placed viewing platform intended to keep you off the sloping rock below the upper falls. This sloped rock is even more treacherous than the second drop since the 50 feet freefall casts up a lot of spray, ensuring the rocks are nice and slippery. The total hike from the lower parking area is 1.4 miles, 0.7 up the hill and 0.47 back down.

DSC_16311A
The first major drop at Glen Falls – August 2018

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