Schoolhouse Falls (via Cold Mountain Gap)

Location: Western North Carolina
Trip Starts: SR 1301 (Cold Mt Gap)
Trip Ends: SR 1301 (Cold Mt Gap)
Total Distance: 2.6 miles
Hike Type: In & Out, Backtrack Hike
Hike Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trails Used: Panthertown Creek Trail
Trail Traffic: None
Trip Type: Day Hike
More Information:

Nantahala National Forest
Highlands Ranger District
2010 Flat Mountain Rd,
Highlands, N.C. 28741
(828) 526-3765


The National Forest Service acquired Panthertown Valley in 1989 from Duke Power in a deal coordinated by the Nature Conservancy. Surprisingly, the area is still relatively wild with no blazes on the trails and only a few primitive campsites. However there are an amazing number of waterfalls that are packed into a relatively small area and they many have pools at their base which make for a great place to swim or fish. Just make sure you take a map and compass on your hike. There are many intersecting trails in the area and route finding can be difficult.

This backtrack hike takes you to Schoolhouse Falls about 1.3 miles from the trailhead. The two-story waterfall is formed by Greenland Creek, the headwaters of the Tuckasegee River. Schoolhouse Falls – true to it’s name – actually falls and shoots over a rock outcrop in Greenland Creek. This is unique since most waterfalls slide or cascade down a rock face. For a close-up view, a narrow trail leads behind the waterfall where you can stand behind the feature and view the beach area to the north. These falls are frequented by numerous day hikers from Lake Towaway which borders Panthertown to the Southeast. So don’t expect a lot of solitude here, but the falls are a great destination – particularly for those hikers looking for a short excursion for the family. This hike is particularly “cool” in 1 1/2 feet of untracked snow in the middle of the winter!

GPS Coordinates:

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