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After descending on the Chestnut Knob Trail to the Shinny Creek Trail, turn right and head up the old CCC road. The Civilian Conservation Corp had a camp in the South Mountains in the 1930's. Remnants of their great achievements are visible to this day, including the old road that you are walking on. At the junction of the High Shoals Falls Trail, it's well marked, turn left.

                                      Enter the cool forest This rhododendron lined trail is a sharp contrast to the Chestnut Knob Trail. Instead of views, waterfalls and cool clear pools are the feature of this hike. You are faced with a trail lined with ferns, mosses and ginseng. The trail passes many swimming holes along the way. (Hint, Hint !!)

Cooling offThis water is as clean as it gets. Still, it must be filtered or boiled for human consumption. Even without a "dip" in the cold Jacobs Fork Creek, the dense undergrowth will cool you with it's shade.

One of many cascadesAlthough the walk to the High Shoals Falls is only a mile, it feels like it's longer. So close to that dusty parking lot, yet a world away, in this dense and moist forest. The sound of rushing water fills the air for the entire hike! 

Lots of steps !As you approach to falls, the incline becomes steeper. The State Park has installed wooden steps to make the climb easier. This has also protected the under story that grows from the rocks. The climb for this short stretch can be rated as strenuous, many hikers "fall out" and rest here. There are also benches installed to accommodate the "huffing and puffing" set !

                          High Shoals FallsThe steps lead you to a great deck that is below the High Shoals Falls. This is not only a good photo opportunity, it can be very welcome after the sweaty climb. The 80 foot fall of the Jacobs Fork Creek is one of the more beautiful cascades in the park.

Top of fallsAfter cooling off in the mist a short climb to the top remains.Many people gather at this location to congratulate each other on the achievement of their great climb ! There are benches here and a small footbridge that crosses well above the falls. Needless to say, the rocks are slippery and 80 feet is a long way to fall.


The trail continues, in a loop, back to the picnic area. The loop trail leaves the creek and travels through an oak and hickory forest. This trail passes a great backcountry campsite and travels through a oak hickory forest. Many back track to see more views of the beautiful creek. It's also fun to go down the steep climb that you just negotiated.

Note: There are also backcountry campsites, with a permit, for a more quiet experience. If you want to put on a pack, there are some great campsites in less visited areas in the park. Stop by the Park Office before heading for the backcountry. Trail maps are available at the trail-heads.


South Mountain State Park is 18 miles south of Morganton. Take exit 105 from I-40 and turn left on 18 at the bottom of the ramp. Follow the signs for 18 miles. From the south you can take Highway 27 west from Lincolnton, NC. West of Lincolnton turn right on 18 and follow the signs. 

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