The Secret has long been “out.” Secret Falls located about six miles outside of Highlands, NC, is a new favorite, and Wessy gives it a “five-paw” experience. Locals call it a secret and try not to tell anyone about these beautiful falls. We got there mid-afternoon and thought we had plenty of time to go to the falls, take photos, and let Wessy swim. But almost immediately, thunder clouds gathered and we had to hurry. It’s about a 1.5 in and out hike, which is short. It’s steep in places, but we went slow and Wessy was a tremendous help.

We made it to the falls and got out before the sky literally opened up!

Little Brown Dog! Wessy Joy enjoyed the trail and even took her time—waiting for me and not pulling too badly. She’s learning so much.

I’m going to give the directions at the end of this post, but there are about three water crossings. The trail was wet from previous rains but we easily moved along with our water-resistant hiking shoes.

Crossings like this one are easy. Wessy chose to walk in the middle of the river, of course, and I chose to walk on the log! On the way out, I told her that this was it for the day. If she wanted to dive into the water again, she needed to do it now and she did!

We used to say these are “bear trees.” I have no idea if that’s true or not. I know bears do look for weak trees that have damage. They will remove the bark in an effort to get to the insects in the wood. Who knows, but it does tend to be a good story. One blogger said it could be damage caused by the Pileated woodpecker looking for insects.

She’s my Wessy Girl! I read about this trail before hiking it and each post said that the Forestry Service had worked on it by adding steps. These had been eroded but Wessy did so well waiting and walking slowly with me.

My little “water bug.”

She has a stick! She goes underwater blowing “water bubbles” and grabs one! Amazing.

Anne and Pat can’t believe it. We always carry towels with us now because usually there is a water fall in our day along with a wet dog!

Beautiful Secret Falls. I only had a couple of minutes to take this photo and a very broad log to place the camera on for the long exposure.

Directions: Go to Highlands, NC. If you are on Hwy 64 east, go straight at the light, and if you are approaching the light from Hwy 28 you will turn right. This is Main Street, which turns into Horse Cove Road. Continue along this curvy road down hill for 3.7 miles and turn right on Walking Stick Rd (SR1608). Continue down this gravel road for about 2.5 miles to a fork; turn right and drive 1/4 mile to FR4567. Really, none of the Forestry Roads are marked, but we still did not have a hard time finding the falls.

Drive another 1/4 mile and pull into a small dirt parking area on the left. We knew we were in the right place because others had parked their cars and hiked out. Secret Falls is also known as Big Shoals. Once on the trail, follow the blue blazes.

The trail begins at the old once gated road off of the parking area. It starts out level but begins to drop down. As the trail descends, you will cross a couple of easy creek crossings. Then the trail heads up hill, and a few minutes later, it turns to the left and down to the falls.