Mingo Falls is one of the more spectacular waterfalls in the Western North Carolina area. Estimated to be nearly 200 feet tall, it truly is a breathtaking sight…once you make it up all those stairs. Let’s find out what to expect!
Mingo Falls is located off of Big Cove Rd. in Cherokee, NC. Just a short drive from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s a must see attraction if you’re in the area…and worth the pain and turmoil of climbing the nearly 160 steps to get to it.
Once on Big Cove Rd., look for signs to Mingo Falls/Mingo Falls Campground. You’ll cross a bridge and parking for the falls is directly across from there. After you ascend the stairs, it’s a short two tenths of a mile hike to the base of the falls on a mainly flat trail. There’s also a bench at the top awaiting those who need to regain their composure before continuing on. The trail is bordered by Mingo Creek on the right, and large rock outcroppings on the left. It’s kind of a shame the trail isn’t longer, really…but it makes up for it in a big way soon. At the end of the trail you’ll come to a picturesque bridge crossing the creek, and that will also serve as the viewing platform.
You can’t see the falls until you’re making your way up the bridge steps, which I think only adds to the dramatic flair of the scene you’ll find once you’re finally at the top. Mossy rock, cascading water, large trees…it’s really a view one would find on some tropical paradise. Here’s the view from the bridge….
There really isn’t a pool to play in, but there are opportunities for getting wet if one so desires. After crossing the bridge, you have the option of going left and rock hopping towards the bottom of the falls, or going right and down the creek for some cool views of the bridge and waterfall together.
If you go towards the base of the falls, you’ll find moss covered rocks and logs. Since it’s such a large waterfall, the spray zone is pretty wide, so everything will be wet and slippery. Proceed with caution when maneuvering over the rocks and creek.
Because it is such a beautiful waterfall, it does get crowded during summer months. The best time to enjoy it is in the mornings, preferably after a big rain. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see it along with the morning fog…which is a magical sight. If you’re taking pictures, the best time is early mornings, as the sun will cover portions of the falls throughout the day…causing some areas to be overexposed.
Mingo Falls really is one of my favorite waterfalls in the area…and it’s definitely worth a trip just to see it. And with all the other attractions close by, it’s hard to find an excuse not to pay it a visit. Even with all those pesky steps….
(Bonus snow photo with Belle)