487 – Steels Creek Falls

Accessibility – Moderate+ (with a sketchy rock bit to get a good view)

Height – 50′

Distance – 2.0 (out and back)

Beauty – 10

Photo rating – 10

Solitude – 6

GPS Info: LAT 35.918901 LONG -81.847464

Last Visited – 04-08-2022

Last Updated – 01-07-2023

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Steels Creek Falls is incredible. I’ve been half a dozen times and none of that feeling has waned. It is one of the few I consider a 10 when it comes to their beauty. I have been to close to 1000 waterfalls and I can say with certainty that Steels Creek Falls is in my Top 10. The hike is 1.8 miles out and back along the Steels Creek Trail (the MST). The hike starts at the end of FR228 which can be accessed off of NC181. The road is gated in winter so plan accordingly. This is where the hike can start 35.91259, -81.83893. You can also do this one as a shuttle from FR496 and end at this point.

The hike is pretty straight forward, BUT, if the water is high, getting across Steels Creek can be dangerous. I had to cross it once after getting caught in a thunderstorm and it was a terrifying experience. Look at the creek where you park and if it’s a roiling brown blob forget it. Once you’re across the creek, the trail enters the woods and comes to a T with the MST. This is about 0.4 from the TH. Make a right and head upstream. The trail is decent enough and the steepest part of the climb is up a rocky gulley. The scramble to the best view of the falls is obvious at about 0.95 from the TH, and it is usually muddy. When the mud ends, you’re poised on a sloped rock that juts into Steels Creek below the falls. The creek is loud and if you fall off the rock it’s gonna suck for whoever has to come find you. There were ropes there on all my visits. I used them the first time and have used my own on others. It is visually intimidating, mostly becasue you see where you’re going to end up if you fall. This may seem overdone, but if you thnk that, you haven’t been here. The bottom two are from my April 2021 visit where I got much further out on the rock.

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