Roan Highlands
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Steels Creek Falls – Pisgah National Forest, NC

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
7.4 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
6 hours and 30 minutes with 2 hours of breaks
1,060 ft
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Parking at the MST trailhead on FSR 496. 35.94216, -81.85815

By Trail Contributor: Zach Robbins (Contact Zach)

Sleepily tucked away between the dramatic Linville Gorge to the west, and the well-known waterfalls of the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River Area to the east, the Steels Creek Gorge is a treasure-trove of dramatic waterfalls unbeknownst to the average hiker. There are 5 named waterfalls on Steels Creek along this section, including Steels Creek Falls, and 6 more known waterfalls on tributaries of the creek. In total, this hike brings you to viewing points for 5 waterfalls. Of course, if you’re the adventurous type you can see more with a good map and directions from North Carolina Waterfalls Third Edition. The highlights are Steels Creek Falls and Beverly Hillbilly Falls, both impressive and unique waterfalls that bely description. In addition to multiple creek fords on this hike, the only way to see Beverly Hillbilly Falls is a 0.3-mile creek-walk/bouldering expedition upstream. If you’re not comfortable with this we advise you to skip it, the other waterfalls should suffice. This is also a great area for camping and swimming. There are nice campsites right beside the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and Steels Creek that are ripe for a weekend basecamp utilized best for fishing, swimming, and waterfall exploration.

Mid May
Steels Creek Falls Hike Comments
Archived Comments

By: Kyle Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 22, 2018
Thanks for sharing this incredible hike! We went the weekend after hurricane Florence and the water was still very high. The three wet crossings mentioned turned into six wet crossings because of the water level. The pool at the base of the teacup falls was much larger than what you see in the youtube video and it was at least 6-7 feet deep when we went swimming..

This is an extremely remote hike, we only saw one other person on the first day. Do not do this alone. Watch the video to get a better sense of what's involved with this hike. This is definitely a great canyon to camp in, there are a variety of sites and plenty of space. Easy access off highway 181.

By: Zachary Robbins Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
My friends wanted me to take them on a hike with some shade and water during this intense summer heat. I thought this hike perfectly fit the bill, as most of the trail is wide and under tree cover, and it is a good beginner's foray into creek-walking to waterfalls. We only did 3 waterfalls on Steels Creek that are close together, Teacups Falls, Beverly Hillbilly Falls, and Steels Creek Falls.

There was some downfall around the side trail to Teacups Falls that wasn't there last year, it made the descent a little trickier. Teacups Falls is by far the safest to explore, the pool is wide with an extensive sandy, shallow area. Next we went straight to Steels Creek Falls which was more dangerous than my previous visit. The trail down, which is steep, was almost entirely mud from recent rains. Combined with thin soil and the gradient, this is hazardous. More dangerous is the rock pulpit in the middle of the waterfall which is the primary viewpoint. You do not want to fool around here, one slip on the rock and you could easily tumble over the lower drops. The two ropes tied off to help people down the rock were muddy and frayed, but seemed fine for one person to use at a time. We all found small nooks to sit down and enjoy the incredibly unique pothole drops of Steels Creek Falls.

I convinced my friends to try the straightforward creek walk to Beverly Hillbilly Falls. The main issue was making sure their small labradoodle could get around big rocks. This wasn't an issue until the boulder field below the waterfall, where we had to lift him a couple of times. This waterfall is one of my favorites, and is very isolated. We lounged on the large rocks beside the falls for a while. This time, I scouted a hidden scramble trail around the right side of the waterfall that led to the top. We took this and creek walked around massive boulders a few hundred feet upstream to Teacups Falls. This is a really beautiful section of creek, and saves about 20 minutes of backtracking.

By the way, we only saw one very large group of backpackers that seemed like college freshmen. Otherwise this is an unpopular hike, nearby Linville Gorge and Upper Creek Falls get all the visitors.

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