Soco Falls and Mingo Falls – Maggie Valley and Cherokee NC
From Maggie Valley, Soco Falls in located 6 miles west on US Highway 19. This part of the highway is a steady climb till you enter the Cherokee Nation. Going toward Cherokee, there are no markers with the exception of a closed store that has a sign stating Soco Falls. From the store, the falls are located a couple hundred yards further along the highway on the left.
There is minimal parking on the side of the road. At the falls entrance there are around 10 parking spots. Twenty yards east is another turn-in that will allow another 5 cars as long as someone isn’t stingy and parks sideways.
The falls are a short hike from the parking area. With all of the rain earlier in the week, the path was wet and the rocks at the lower section were very slippery. The path is manageable, but extra caution should be used on the lower section. For those who may have mobility issues or if you don’t want to try the rocky edge to the bottom of the fails, a viewing platform is located half way down the trail. The platform offers a good view of the falls and stream.
The trail isn’t maintained. The lower section is very rocky, slippery with no hand rails only short sections of wet rope to steady the hiker. Most were up to the challenge, self included, with great views of the falls at the end of the trail. Soco Falls is a double waterfall and the view was beautiful. Getting close to the bottom, the water rose in a gentle mist with the rushing sounds of the falling water that made this area magical.
Leaving Soco Falls we took a short 20 mile drive traveling east back toward Maggie Valley and entered the Blue Ridge Parkway heading south toward the northern end of the Cherokee. The Blue Ridge Parkway ends at US Highway 441 with a short drive south toward Mingo Falls. Words of warning when using the GPS guidance along US Highway 441 toward the falls. The GPS will attempt to direct you across the creek to an area with no access to the falls. Fortunately there are signs that tell you to turn around and continue up Sherrill Cover Rd to the parking area.
Mingo Falls is located along the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. There was ample parking at the entrance. The falls are located about a half a mile from the parking lot. Over half the trail is made up of steps. They are easy to climb and the remaining trail is easy to navigate.
Reaching the top of the trail, there is an observation deck over the creek to see the falls. Mingo Falls is 120 feet high and the day of our visit was putting on a great display. The trail on the left side that takes you close to the bottom of the falls was closed due to the amount of large trees that had fallen from a strong storm. Regardless, the view of the falls and creek leading away was a beautiful site.
All along the edges of the falls and the trail was thick groves of wild rhododendron. Even in the middle of the summer, I found blooms at the higher elevations and imagine weeks earlier this area would have been a mass of white and pink flowers.
Leaving the falls we took US Highway 19 through Cherokee back to the campground in Maggie Valley. What a great afternoon seeing nature’s wonders.
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