Soco Falls is a hidden gem, that many people drive right by, not evening knowing that it's there. This stunning double waterfall is located between Cherokee NC and Maggie Valley NC along Highway 19.
The twin waterfalls are gorgeous, and offer a number of smaller waterfalls both above and below the main falls to view and enjoy.
Off Highway 19 between Cherokee NC and Maggie Valley NC
Moderate to the observation deck
Strenuous down to the base of the falls.
Double waterfall, observation deck
From Maggie Valley, head towards Cherokee on NC 19. Cross under the Parkway, and about 1.5 miles down 19, you'll see a small pull over to the left. There will be signs .5 miles before Soco falls, but they are small and the distance is actually less than .5 miles. You can recognize the parking lot by the metal fencing.
From Cherokee, head towards Maggie Valley on US19. From the intersection of US19 and Highway 441, Soco Falls is about 10 miles out US19.
Bring your camera, and if you're going to the base, bring good hiking shoes or boots.
Soco Falls NC
Soco Falls is just a short drive off the Blue Ridge Parkway, at the Soco Gap access point.
The falls has a small parking, that frankly looks more like a small pull over than a parking lot. Fortunately, this isn't a very busy waterfall, and we've never personally seen the parking lot completely full, even during the busy seasons.
The parking lot is very easy to miss though, so don't be discouraged if you pass it the first time.
If you are coming from the Parkway, he strongly advise going past the parking area, turning around, and coming back up. Turning left into the Parking lot is very dangerous, due to the blind curve.
Walking Down to Soco Falls NC
Once parked, the trail begins between the guard rail and metal fence on the east side. The trail will switch back and take you down the falls. The trail is a little rough, but manageable. The incline down is a little steep, and there are some areas where the steps down and up are pretty big.
Here is a video of walking down to the Falls:
After following trail for a short distance, you'll enter a wooden observation deck that was built in 2008. If you head to the right, all the way down, you'll get a really gorgeous view of the more than 50 foot tall double cascade waterfall .
You can mainly see the taller of the two falls from this location, but you can also see the secondary falls as well, especially in the winter and spring. See the photo below, which was taken from this location.
Just before the deck, there is another trail off to the left. If you head down this small trail, you'll gain access to some smaller falls above the main falls.
Just be careful to not get to close to the top of the falls, it's a long drop and the rocks are very slippery! People have died here due to getting too close to the edge, and recently as well, a lady fell to her death here in 2013.
Scrambling down to the bottom of Soco Falls
Most people view the falls from the observation deck. But if you head to the left from the deck, you'll notice some climbing rope attached to trees.
If you're adventurous, you can "scramble" down to the bottom of the falls for more photo opportunities and a better view of both falls. This is how we took the aboe photo and the lead photo of this article.
The area below the falls offers the best view of the twin falls. If you do decide to go this route, be very careful, as it's very steep and slippery. This route is not for everyone, so please use your best judgement.
If you don't think you can make it, don't go.
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Soco Falls History
Soco Gap, for which the falls is named, is located just up US19 a bit near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Soco Gap was the main entrance, and guard station for the Cherokee Nation.
Soco Gap was often used by the Cherokee as an ambush location. The falls were a popular hunting area for the Cherokee.
Soco Falls Video
Here's a video from the base of Soco Falls, taken during the Fall season.