“A wonderful loop trail with magnificent falls and lots of geological interest.”
— Charles Pulse
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Waterfall
The ruggedness around the High Shoal Falls can be deadly. It is advised that visitors stay on the designated path all the way to the top of the gorge.
From the Jacob's Fork parking lot, find the well-signed trailhead for the Hemlock Nature Trail
. Take this trail for about 1/3 of a mile. This trail runs beside the Jacob's Fork River through a variety of trees and flowers and has educational displays posted periodically along the trail. The Hemlock Nature Trail
ends at the beginning of the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail.
The High Shoals Falls Trail continues on for another 1/3 of a mile alongside the river to a fork in the trail. This fork marks the beginning and the end of the trail's loop. To the right is the longest distance to the top of the gorge but the slope is not as steep as to the left. Park Rangers recommend the right fork direction for those backpacking to the many backcountry tent camps throughout the park.
To the left is a steeper trail. Its path is boulder-strewn and much of the trail is stair-stepped in order to allow passage through the rugged terrain. Views are excellent. First, there is Jacob's Fork River, then multiple smaller falls, followed by the main 80 foot falls. A platform exists at that point to provide better viewing of this set of falls. From the platform, take the stairs upward to the top of the falls. From there the trail levels and looks down upon Jacob's Creek.
Eventually, the trail merges with the Upper Falls Trail
. Veer off to the right on the combined trail. The combined trail travels upward for another quarter of a mile. The High Shoals Loop then splits to the right. The remainder of this trail travels downward through a hardwood/pine forest to the bottom of the gorge where the loop is completed.
As a bonus, the High Shoals Falls Trail has educational displays along the trail giving information about the various geological formations that make up the gorge.