Soco Falls are waterfalls in North Carolina near Cherokee NC.
There’s a short trail to the overlook, and you can see the waterfalls from there.
And if you can manage to go down the other trail… WOW!!!
Why is it “manage to go down”?!
Well, it’s a rather steep trail and one that you do need to be careful going down. A little bit more about this trail below in a bit.
Soco Falls are waterfalls near the Blue Ridge Parkway
If you’re looking to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway (aka “America’s favorite drive“) when you’re near the Smoky Mountains, then when you do this drive can be a good time to visit Soco Falls.
The waterfalls aren’t directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it is like a 2 minute drive off of it to get there.
It’s the Blue Ridge Parkway exit to Maggie Valley, to US-19, near Soco Gap.
How far is Soco Falls from Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
There are many waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, and you don’t have to leave the national park in order to see waterfalls.
But if you’re waterfall chasing in North Carolina, then Soco Falls can also be worth a visit.
For reference, from the southern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Oconaluftee Visitor Center in North Carolina) to Soco Falls is around a 30 minute drive.
From Gatlinburg TN (further up north) to Soco Falls is around a 1.5 hour drive.
When coming from the Smoky Mountains, you can take the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to Soco Falls. Google maps may not direct you onto the Blue Ridge Parkway though, so look out for that. It may route you along US-19 instead. It’s basically the same drive time whether you take the parkway or not.
Driving from Asheville to Soco Falls
If you are driving from Asheville to the Smoky Mountains (or the Smoky Mountains to Asheville), then it’s also a perfect time to make a slight detour to go to Soco Falls.
The direct way to drive from Asheville to Soco Falls will take around 50 minutes with no stops, driving I-40.
You can also take the slow road by driving the Blue Ridge Parkway instead of I-40. Just for reference, if you were to make no stops (unlikely!), then driving from Asheville to Soco Falls by taking the Blue Ridge Parkway the whole way would take 2.5 hours at minimum.
If you don’t want to spend THAT much time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, another option would be to do something like drive from Asheville to the Balsam Gap the quicker way (aka take the highway), and then drive the Blue Ridge Parkway the rest of the way. This would be a drive of a little over 1 hour with no stops, and you’ll be driving the Blue Ridge Parkway for around 20-30 minutes, for 13 miles or so.
Parking at the Soco Falls trailhead
There is a parking area right where the trail to Soco Falls starts. It’s a pretty small area and there aren’t that many parking spots.
Side note! See the more of the Smoky Mountains:
- Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains
- Best hikes with VIEWS in the Smoky Mountains
- Best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains
- Driving the scenic route from Gatlinburg to Clingman's Dome
- Driving the slow scenic route from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove
- The big list of things to do in the Smoky Mountains
PHOTOS for a little bit of what to expect when hiking the trail to Soco Falls!
I hiked to Soco Falls in late September 2020. Pictures are from that time.
For google maps, your destination can be Soco Falls and it will get you there.
You’ll be passing through the land of Cherokee Indians.
So after you have made it to the Soco Falls trailhead and parked your car, you can start the trail! You will see it right in front of the parking area.
It will be like a 2 minute walk from the parking area to the Soco Falls overlook.
The waterfalls can seem a little distant, but you can see them from this overlook.
And then once you’ve seen the waterfalls from the overlook, you can hike down! You’ll have passed the trail that goes down on your way to the overlook.
As you go down, there are safety type ropes that can assist you as you go down and come back up.
I think these ropes are best used more as a “just in case” and not to completely rely on them. I saw some people that were pretty much using these ropes and pulling themselves up with their entire body weight on the rope, and I really don’t think that’s all that safe.
For sure, use the ropes to assist you because they are there to help you safely get down and up. But don’t 100% rely on them! You just don’t know how well the ropes are maintained.
Once you’re there, have a look at the trail and make an honest judgment if you think you can make it safely down and back. Remember, if you go down, you have to come back UP!
And then once you’ve spent time taking in Soco Falls… head back up!
And that’s a bit of what it’s like on the hike to Soco Falls!
If you are staying in Gatlinburg, be sure to see ideas of things to do on your drive to Soco Falls:
- Stops to make on the drive from Gatlinburg to Clingman’s Dome
- Hiking Clingman’s Dome
- Mingus Mill
- Where to see elk on NC side of Smoky Mountains
You may also like Mingo Falls, a 30 minute drive from Soco Falls.
Also be sure to see the list of great waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains!
HAPPY VISIT TO SOCO FALLS!
Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky MountainsYou will want good shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains.
In general, the best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains will be hiking boots (more ideal) or trail running shoes (more versatile for everyday activities compared to hiking boots but still will give you advantages compared to regular shoes).
I liked wearing my hiking boots for the thicker soles (good on rocky trails) and the waterproof (water resistant) nature of them.
They were especially helpful on rainy day hikes to keep my shoes (and socks!) dry! They are also better to be walking on mud compared to regular shoes.
On rougher terrain (like the trails that are a bit rougher with more rocks), hiking boots are more ideal so you won't feel it on the bottoms of your feet as much.
If you want shoes that can work out better as everyday "out and about" kind of shoes, then you might like trail running shoes better! Trail running shoes are a little more durable than regular shoes, so they can also work out as good hiking shoes. Trail running shoes are a bit lighter weight and less bulky compared to hiking boots.
Shoe fit is very important for your feet! Be sure to break in your new shoes by walking around the neighborhood and/or at the grocery store before you go on your "big hike" in the Smoky Mountains!