Accessibility – Hard
Height – 45′ (main drop + lower cascade)
Distance – 4.4 (out and back)
Beauty – 5
Photo rating – 4
Solitude – 6
GPS Info: LAT 35.43859 LONG -83.19051
Last Updated – 07-103-2019
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Gina Falls is the more distant of the two waterfalls in Pinnacle Park, outside of Sylva NC. It is also the harder to reach and photograph. It is located at around the 4400 foot mark about 0.2 of a mile off the West Fork Trail. The hike is about 2.2 miles one way with all but the last 0.2 on trail. The final push to the falls is off-trail and steep.
Reaching the trailhead: From US74, The Great Smoky Mountain Expressway, exit onto Steeple Rd. This is on the right if you’re heading West or on the left if you’re heading East. There is an Exxon on top of the hill where you turn. In 0.2 of a mile on Steeple Rd at the T, make a left onto Skyland Drive. Remain on Skyland Drive for 0.5 of a mile and make a right onto Fisher Creek Road. Follow Fisher Creek road for 2.1 miles to the parking area at the kiosk. At 2.0 miles the pavement ends and the last 0.1 is on gravel.
In order to hike in Pinnacle Park you do need to fill out a registration card at the kiosk and the area is under video surveillance . I have no idea if they come and track you down if you don’t fill out a registration card but I didn’t want to find out.
The hike begins past the gate heading up the hill. This initial section is what you’re going to get for the entire hike, rocky and uphill. At times the grade will moderate some and at other times it will get really steep. At 0.3 of a mile the East Fork Trail is going to head to the right, remain on the West Fork Trail heading up. At 0.5 of a mile you will pass Split Rock, a huge fractured boulder on the right. A tenth of a mile later you’re going to cross the creek. Now the grade is going to increase. At 1.3 & 1.7 miles from the trailhead you’re going to cross small tributaries that may or may not have any water in them. On my visit the trib at 1.7 miles was empty. At 1.9 miles you will reach this point 35.42988, -83.18373. Leave the trail on the right side of the road and start angling down toward the falls. It is loud enough to hear so you can use that as your guide.
Initially the route down is more of a sidehill until the woods open up and you can head straight down. The terrain is very steep and there are some rocky areas you will have to negotiate. Getting a decent shot is going to require crossing to the river left side of the creek but even there a tree is going to be in the middle of the frame.
Gina Falls – July 2019