Western North Carolina is full of rugged mountain terrain, winding rivers, and beautiful waterfalls. Located within Burke, Cleveland, and Rutherford counties is a small isolated mountain range called South Mountains. With beautiful rocky terrain and the breathtaking High Shoals Falls, it is definitely a place worth visiting.
After a really long heavy rainfall this past Spring, I decided to take the kids on a field trip. Honestly, I just needed to get out of the house – and get the noise makers (AKA my children) away from the confines of four walls. Since I needed exercise and the children needed to work off some energy, I decided to go hiking. We drove up to South Mountains State Park. I gave the kids bags with the charge to collect non-living items to take home and research. They weren’t too excited about it until I made it a competition. I told them whoever collected the most items would get a McFlurry. Yeah, I’m not beyond bribing my kids.
We took the High Shoals Falls Loop. The trail is only 1.2 miles, but it gets a little steep towards the falls. OK, it felt REALLY steep to me. Since we just had a lot of rain, I kept my eyes open for snakes looking for some sun and instructed my children to do likewise. The trail follows along the edge of Jacob’s Fork River, which is great because my kids love to stop and put their feet in the water. Edged with trees and large rocks, the path is littered with tree roots, rocks, and moss. As you follow the trail you’ll cross the river by a cute wooden bridge where the water gushes over the rocks.
It didn’t take us long before we reached the falls, but it took twice as long for me to catch my breath. The Jacob Fork River falls over 80 feet to create the beautiful High Shoals Falls. The loop has an observation platform to the side of the waterfall. On a typical day, if you get close to the railing, you can feel the spray. Right after a heavy rainfall, you’ll get a shower – which is welcome after the hike to it.
All in all, South Mountains is a great place to hike, have a science lesson, and enjoy some of God’s beauty.