Ranger Falls Trail
: This moderately difficult 1.3 mile trail up the
ridge leads to Ranger Falls, a 25-30 ft set of falls on Skitty Creek.
Access the trail from the right of the Clifftop Vista trailhead. After
0.3 mile, at a fork in the trail, take the left fork (downhill) to the falls.
In approx. 0.6 mile the trail splits again. Stay to the right and do not
cross the creek via the left trail. In approx. 0.2 mile you will arrive at
Ranger Falls. Continue up past the Falls to a four-way intersection.
Turn right and continue for 0.1 mile to a road. Turn right onto the
road for approx. 0.25 mile into a clearing where the trail departs the
road to the left; take this trail through the clearing. Continue past
the first fork in the trail that led to the Falls. Head back downhill to
the parking area at Cliffside Lake.
Skitty Creek Trail
: This 0.5 mile trail runs between Cliffside Lake
Road and US 64. The trail leads to Dry Falls. To get to the falls from
the trail’s end, take a short walk along US 64. Watch out for cars
along this easy trail.
Van Hook Trail
: This 0.5 mile trail is located between Van Hook
Glade and Cliffside Lake. An additional 0.5 mile walk is next to a road
that leads to Cliffside Lake.
Ellicott’s Rock Wilderness Area
Encompassing 9,012 acres, the steep terrain of the Ellicott Rock
Wilderness Area offers numerous mountains and waterfalls to
explore. Two trails to Ellicott’s Rock are described below.
Bad Creek Trail to Ellicot’s Rock
- 3 miles one way | moderate
This is a well-laid and marked 3-mile trail connecting the Chattooga River
Trail to Bull Pen Road. The trail starts on an old logging road. It then
descends through a series of switchbacks to the river. Once at the river,
take the Chattooga River Trail left for a short distance to Ellicott’s Rock.
Ellicott’s Rock Trail -
3.5 miles one way | difficult
This trail follows an old roadbed through a rich pine forest. At 2.0 miles
there is an intersection of two trails; continue straight. At 2.7 miles
there is another junction; bear left and descend to the river. To reach
Ellicott’s Rock you must ford the river. Water depth will vary. During
the summer wading should not be difficult. After fording, take the
Chattooga River Trail to the right for a short distance to Ellicott’s Rock.
From Highlands go east on Main Street until the road becomes Horse
Cove Road, for 4.5 miles to intersection of Bull Pen Road. Turn right on
Bull Pen Road: 1) Bad Creek trail begins on right, 3 miles east of bridge,
2) Ellicott’s Rock Trail trailhead is 1.8 miles down Bull Pen Road. Both
drop steeply down from opposite sides of the river near Ellicott’s Rock.
Glades Road Caves
3.5 mile loop | moderate
This is a nice hike through the forest that follows an old roadbed
that was used for boot-legging long ago with multiple cavernous
exploration opportunities. The Cherokee Indians used these caves.
As you’re hiking along youwill notice side trails/old roadbeds. Stay to your
right and on the obvious trail. A mixed terrain can be expected. A small
spring flows through portions of the trail once you get closer to the caves,
but again, nothing too serious to navigate. Approximately 17-20 minutes
into your hike you will come upon another small brown trail sign that says
“loop” on it. Keep to your right here, you are approx. eight minutes from
the caves on your left and uphill. The first “cave” you come to is small but
very interesting to explore. Scoot underneath the overhang to get some
pretty cool views of how the rocks have slid into place over the years.
Take Horse Cove Road for 4.5 curvy miles down into the cove until you
come to a fork in the road. Turn right at fork on Bull Pen Road. Go 1 mile
and take Glades Road on the right. In 0.3 miles look for large, grassy
parking area on the left. Trailhead is approximately 50 ft. to the right of
the parking area.
Glen Falls and Trail
1.4 miles one way
easy down | difficult up
Glen Falls is a series of three beautiful cascades. The trail descends
some 700 feet and starts at the top of the falls. You can return after
seeing the first or second waterfall and still have an enjoyable walk.
Or go all the way to the third waterfall!
From the intersection of US 64 and Hwy 106 in Highlands, NC take Hwy
106 South for 2 miles. Turn left at sign for Glen Falls, then immediately
right onto gravel road. Take the road one mile to the parking area.
The Glen Falls trail continues in the same direction of the road. (The
trail to the right goes to Chinquapin Mountain, a 3.2 mile (round trip)
Highlands Biological Center
0.1 to 0.2 miles each trail | multiple trails | easy
The Highlands Botanical Gardens and Nature Center at the Biological
Station serves as a living museum of labeled native plant series.
Take the Lower Lake and Upper Lake Trails around Lindenwood Lake
to connect with Rhododendron Trail, or explore the gardens and loop
trails throughout the Garden. All trails range from 0.1 to 0.2 miles.
To ensure an enjoyable hike, we strongly recommend you
contact the US Forest Service at 828-526-3765. They have
additional information, maps and brochures. Please use
caution; although these trails, waterfalls, and scenic areas
are beautiful to see, they can be very dangerous.