There are two good ways to reach High Falls. One is to drive 0.9 mile south from Hooker Falls Access to High Falls Access, on the left. Study the trail board here for the easy route to the falls. The detailed directions I give below are from Hooker Falls Access, as I assume most people will want to see both Triple Falls and High Falls on the same hike. I describe an easy way to do that.
See the DuPont State Recreational Forest introduction before following these directions.
Hike to Triple Falls and continue beyond the upper overlook to the T junction, where you’ll turn left and climb moderately for just over 100 yards to a fork. Take the left fork, which is High Falls Trail. You’ll descend to the river, then follow it upstream for about 0.3 mile to another fork. High Falls Trail goes right and ascends to the upper overlooks, while Riverbend Trail goes left and leads to the base. An unofficial scramble path at the base takes you around the 90-degree bend in the river to where you can pick up a path climbing the bank on the right. That path will bring you to the upper overlooks. Scrambling around the base of High Falls is discouraged by forest officials.
I gave High Falls a beauty rating of 7 in the last edition of North Carolina Waterfalls and heard from several people who thought that was too low. So I’m sure some people will wonder about the rating of 6 in this edition, as well as the photo rating of 4. The covered bridge spanning the river above the falls and the swath cut out of the bank to view the falls ruin it for me. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the bridge extended all the way across the top, but it juts out only partway and looks really out of place. For those not averse to such human intrusions, High Falls probably ranks considerably higher. Don’t let my preferences keep you from visiting. Come and draw your own conclusions.
The Scenic Resources of the Tennessee Valley calls this “perhaps the largest and most impressive [falls] in the Asheville area.” Even when that book came out in 1938—before all the “improvements”—that was quite a distinction. According to Jim Bob Tinsley, an early name for High Falls was Great Falls. Tinsley says another early name was Minnehaha Falls. The old fireplace at the overlook is part of the historic Buck Forest Lodge, dating from the mid-1800s.
In The Last of the Mohicans, Hawkeye, Chingachgook, and Uncas are seen running in slow motion up the left side of High Falls on their way to rescue Cora and Alice from Magua.