384 – Cane Creek Falls

Accessibility – Moderate+

Height – 25′

Distance – 1.5 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 6

Solitude – 8

GPS Info: LAT 35.03398 LONG -83.13729

Last Updated – 12-16-2018

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Cane Creek Falls is a 25 foot freefall not too far from Highlands NC and Cashiers NC. The hike is relatively short but the scramble is tough so this might not be for everyone. If you do make the hike, you’re going to have to pay close attention to the terrain once you leave the logging road as the potential to fall off a cliff exists if you get too close to the falls on the way down. Most of the distance on this hike follows a gently descending logging grade with only the final push off-trail. The most challenging part of the hike is making sure you leave the logging road at the right place. With the leaves off we could see the falls to the left as we came down the hill on the road.

The trailhead is located on Whiteside Cove Road between Highlands and Cashiers, with easy access from either. Coming from Highlands, head East out of town on Main Street, which becomes Horse Cove Road. At 4.6 miles Horse Cove Road splits with Bullpen Cove Road (unpaved) heading to the right and Whiteside Cove Road continuing straight. Continue on Whiteside Cove Road for 0.5 of a mile to gated logging grade on the right as you come through a right hand turn. Park here without blocking the gate.

Begin the hike by passing the gate and following the logging road down a gentle grade. You’ll cross a small creek and Cane Creek along the way. The trip on the logging road is approximately 0.65 miles to where you need to leave the road and bushwhack down the hill. You will be able to hear the falls as you approach the place. Close to the falls there is a high cliff that will force you to head downstream. It’s hard to be precise as to where I left the road but it seemed like the right place as you look at the lay of the land. I marked the spot with my GPS as 35.03354 by -83.13709. You can use this as a guide to get you close to the right place but you’re going to have to make a decision on how you want to make your way down.

The falls was easily visible through the trees on the way down and eventually our route brought us to the creek downstream of the falls. Getting to the base didn’t require getting our feet wet, which was nice. There is a large boulder on the right side of the river. I got up on this then climbed along the cliff to a vantage above creek level to avoid the spray coming off the falls. The water level was way up and a huge cloud of mist blanketed the area in front of the falls. The shot from high ground was really nice.

Due to the potential danger of hiking off trail and the high cliffs close to the falls, this is not a great hike for the family, unless they are good with off-trail hiking. The reward on this one is high if you do make the trip. Use your best judgment.

High flow at Cane Creek Falls – December 2018
A view from the river right vantage – December 2018

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