Big Shoals (Secret Falls)

This falls has long been known to locals as “Secret Falls”, but I doubt that’s its true name. Also, the falls isn’t much of a secret – it’s an easy hike there – but I can see how locals might have wanted it kept that way. Nevertheless, there is now an official Forest Service trail to the falls, which is called “Big Shoals Trail”. Thus, I believe the actual name of the falls is probably Big Shoals.

It’s also one of the finest waterfalls in the area! A relatively large creek pours over a nearly vertical bluff into a big, deep, beautiful pool, complete with a sandy beach, before spilling over some smaller cascades and into a dark, rocky cove. This is a must-visit if you’re in the Highlands area.

On my last visit, despite the high water levels and plenty of private development upstream, the water was absolutely crystal clear. So I commend the property owners who take care of the waterway – let’s hope that continues.

Driving Directions

From the main intersection of US 64 and Main Street in downtown Highlands, go east on Main Street, which turns into Horse Cove Road (S.R. 1603) after one block. Follow Horse Cove Road up over the ridge and down the mountain; this part is narrow, scenic, and curvy. After 3.7 miles, turn right onto Walkingstick Road, which is unpaved. Go about 2.5 miles, cross a stream, and bear right at a fork. Go 0.4 more miles and turn right onto FR 4567. The signed trailhead parking area is at the start of an old grassy logging road on the left after another 0.2 miles.

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