Ranger Falls Trail

Categories: Hiking & Backpacking, Waterfalls, Hikes to waterfalls, Dog Friendly Hiking Trails


  •  2 mile loop trail 
  •  Nature information along trail about native plants/trees 
  •  25-30 ft falls on Skitty Creek 
  •  Connecting trails leading to old ranger station 
  •  A couple of moderately steep climbs 
  •  Newest trail in the area
  • Nearby Cliffside Lake Recreation Area for fishing, picnic, swimming, etc.

The Local Scoop

Ranger Falls is the most recently constructed hiking trail in the area. The trail leads to Ranger Falls, a 25 - 30 ft set of falls on Skitty Creek. This trail was made possible by volunteers whom helped wiith the clearing of the brush for the trail. After 0.3 mile you'll come to a fork in the trail, take the Left fork (downhill) to the falls. I understand there is to be a footbridge placed in front of the falls to help with viewing. In approx. 0.6 miles the trail splits again, stay to the Right and do not cross the creek via the Left trail. In approx. 0.2 mile you will arrive at Ranger Falls. Continue up past the falls where you'll come to a four way intersection. Turn Right here and contine for 0.1 mile to a road. Turn Right onto the road for approx. 0.25 mile into a clearing where the trail departs the road to the Left, take this trail through the clearing. Continue on this trail which will take you past the first fork in the trail that took you to the falls. Now head back downhill to the parking area at Cliffside Lake. Pack a picnic lunch when you visit and maybe a fishing pole. You can enjoy your lunch at one fo the multiple picnic talbes at the Rec. area or try your luck at catching a mountain trout in the Hatchery Supported Cliffside Lake either before your hike or after. This is a great hike for early-mid Spring for wildflowers along the trail.

The Local Directions

From the intersection of U.S. Hwy-64 East and U.S. Hwy- 23/441 North in Franklin take Hwy 64 East towards Highlands, NC for approx. 12.3 miles. Cliffside Lake Recreation Area entrance will be on your Left with the sign on the Right side of U.S. 64 East. Follow this paved road for approx. 1 mile until you reach the gate (closed in wiinter months) and the pay station. There is a $4 fee to park and picnic/fish/swim/hike/etc. After you pay, continue through the gate keeping straight/left for another 0.5 miles until you see parking lots on your right. Take a left into the top parking area and drive to the back of the lot. You'll find the trailhead for Ranger Falls here. Park and pick up the 0.5 mile trail up the ridge. If coming from Highlands, take U.S. 64 West from red light @ intersection of U.S. 64/N.C. 28 in Highlands for 4.2 miles to Cliffside Lake Rec. Area's entrance and continue on paveed road for antoher 1.5 miles to parking on your left.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Hike6What's this?
  • Waterfalls7What's this?
Trailhead:  35.081142, -83.236011
Falls:  35.087713,-83.232293
Hike Distance
2 miles (Loop)
Moderate via US Hwy-64/28 & Cliffside Lake Recreation Area
Nearest City
Macon County
Distance From
Highlands, 5.7 miles 
Franklin, 15 miles