High Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Monongahela, and at an altitude of over 2,800ft, one of the highest. The High Falls trail passes through old growth forest, and large hemlock as it winds through the saddle on Shavers Mountain. This is a beautiful hike in the backcountry of the Monongahela National Forest.
Cross the access road and pass through a large field, as the now blue/yellow blazed Allegheny/High Falls trail climbs Shaver Mountain. In 1.2 miles from the field, arrive at the saddle on Shaver Mountain and the only good campsite on the hike (no water). Just past the campsite arrive at the intersection where the Allegheny Trail splits left.
Stay straight, now going downhill on the blue blazed High Falls trail and reach a small abandoned service road in 0.2 miles. Important:Turn right as the blue blazed trail now follows the service road (SR), and DOES NOT cross it. Follow the blue blazed SR for another 0.2 miles where the High Falls trail turns left off the SR downhill.
Follow the blue blazed High Falls trail for 1.1 miles where the trail arrives at the railroad tracks. Important: DO NOT descend the burn on the other side of the railroad tracks. Turn right, the High Falls trail will now follow beside the railroad tracks the remaining 0.9 miles to High Falls. DO NOT walk in the center of the tracks, and pay extra attention for trains.
High Falls is a stopping point for a scenic rail tour, and it's possible that when you arrive at the depot hut, and High Falls, there are a group of people. If a scenic tour passes make sure to wave to the passengers, as they'll be wondering where you came from :)
This is an excellent out/back hike, especially off-season. We found it to be very well marked, so perhaps it's been re-blazed since the previous reviewers. We are generally fit but not speed hikers, and we took about 3:30 out/back, and another 45 minutes for lunch at the falls (4.15 total time). We found the grade to be steady. The steepest stretches were a short section right as you leave the meadow nearest the trail head, and then right as you drop onto the river. Lots of switchbacks made for a mellow grade otherwise, and we found the elevation summary pretty accurate.
We had the entire hike to ourselves, but can easily see how it could be quite busy on a nice warm day in high season. There were a lot of seeps so plenty of water if you run out, and we enjoyed the picnic benches down at the depot/river. There's also been a lot of work to build a staircase, etc., looks pretty new (just this past season?). We had lunch right at the base of the falls and enjoyed the cool spray. The only negative to the hike is that there isn't much of a trail next to the rail bed, but that's a pretty minor thing. We're also guessing it would be a little tricky in icy weather. Laslty, it was a little further drive from Alpena than we were expecting, but that may say more about our map skills than about the info on this website. Thanks to all who have had a hand in this website, including previous reviewers!
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 06, 2016
This is an EPIC hike. Out of my top 10 hikes, this one is now #2. Abdolutely beautiful scenery. ENOURMOUS mushrooms abound. The ascents are not too hard, and there are very few rocky areas, and a few muddy spots. There was also an abundance of blackberries. We arrived at the falls just as the Durbin express was unloading, so we even got a few pictures with the train. The falls were very full and every bit of the 10 of 10 that my West Virginia waterfalls book gave them for beauty. Below the falls is a HUGE swimming hole, and at 6'3 the water went way over my head. It was every bit of a wonderful experience.
There are a few detractors in this hike. They are:
1. The blue trail markers are few and far between a few miles into the hike. Forrunately the intersections are typically well marked.
2. The rock is UNBELIEVABLY SLICK above the falls. I slid on my butt to get to the other side. The rocks are also very slick getting into the swimming hole.
3. The port-a-potties they have there were nasty and you can smell them from 50 yards away.
4. It is very wet there, making the rocks very slick. Travel slow in rocky areas. I am currently at the Emergency Room in Petersburg because my friend fell and cracked open her head. It is not wise to hike very fast.
Aside from those things, this hike was phenomenal. If it wasn't so far away from home, Id come here every week.
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 17, 2015
Beautiful hike!! Took our dogs they loved it!!
Date of Hike: Friday, May 15, 2015
We stayed at the Middle Mountain Cabins and made the 40 min drive to the Trail where the Wife, 2 dogs and I made the hike...What a Beautiful adventure!!
We have the cabins reserved again this year (2016) with some friends who we hope will enjoy it as much as we did!
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Absolutely love this hike! We have come up here for the last three years to jump off the falls and camp. The hike to the falls is a quick 2-3 hours depending on your pace and the campsites are great. There are even modern conveniences including porta-potties and trashcans right by the falls.