Last Updated on January 23, 2023
Last Updated on January 23, 2023
Soco Falls is a beautiful double waterfall in the Qualla Boundary of the Cherokee Nation. It’s just a few minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and not far from Maggie Valley.
This place is so easy to pass without knowing it’s even there, but we think you really should keep an eye out for it when driving down US-19.
Don’t worry, though, because we’ll share driving directions (mappable, plus hiking tips!) to get you down to Soco Falls. Because once you see those two beautiful waterfalls plunge together at approximately 40 and 50 feet over rugged and sharp rocks, you’re going to want to get there right away!
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Map of Soco Falls (and More Waterfalls)
If you’d like to visually plan your trip, our map includes the location of Soco Falls and more waterfalls nearby. As we mentioned (and as you’ll see), Mingo Falls is closest and the Deep Creek Trail outside Bryson City isn’t too far away either.
Read More: The North Carolina Travel Map
The Soco Gap (Background)
Soco Falls is a part of the very important Soco Gap that today, sits inside the Cherokee Indian Reservation. Its significance is due to the geological formation that the tribe used as the reservation’s main entrance from the North and the East.
A mountain pass between Plott Balsam Range is also known as Ahalunun’yi in Cherokee, which translates to “Ambush Place.” It’s suspected that name comes from a Cherokee attack on a group of invading Shawnees that took place in the 1700s.
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Soco Falls Driving Directions
From Maggie Valley
If you are coming from Maggie Valley on US 19 you will not see a sign indicating the pull-off for Soco Falls. That may change so if we don’t catch it first, please let us know!
Cell service is iffy in this area, so here are some easy directions to reach the waterfall. After crossing under the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is 1.5 miles on your left in a curve in the road.
Read More: 20+ Amazing Things to Do in Maggie Valley
From downtown Cherokee, Soco Falls is 10 miles on your right. You will see a small blue sign on US 19 just before the parking area.
Regardless of which way you’re traveling from, there is limited parking, so make sure to get there early!
The Soco Falls Hike
Before you begin the hike, please proceed with caution, especially if there’s been recent rainfall. Proper footwear with good tread will help, as there are tricky spots along the way.
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The Upper Platform
There will be a break in the guardrail on the left where the trail will begin. 100 feet away, a viewing platform can be reached following a short, moderately steep path.
Views from this platform are decent in the summer months, but truly best in the winter when there isn’t as much foliage blocking your view.
Read More: 25 of the Most Amazing Winter Hikes in North Carolina
A Better View (The Foot of Soco Falls)
To get the best view, we recommend grabbing your courage and descending further down into the valley for an epic experience. The trail starts off steep to the left of the viewing platform.
There are rocks to scramble over as well as ropes to hold onto.
Read More: 50+ Great Things to Do in Asheville (Downtown, Biltmore, and More!)
Before You Hike: My Advice
I wouldn’t say this is an easy hike, but it is not so extreme that only experienced hikers should attempt it. While I was there, I met a fellow photographer whose pup came with him.
Based on my experience, I’d recommend attempting this hike only if you are in moderate physical condition, confident in your footing, and careful. It can become slippery (especially after rain) and the path cuts straight off to the first waterfall.
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Ready for Soco Falls?
While it’s closer to Cherokee and Bryson City, Soco Falls is just an hour away from Asheville and perfect for a day trip! We hope you get to enjoy them (safely) and look forward to hearing from you about how everything went.
If you’ve visited Soco Falls, we’d love to know what you thought of them! And if you haven’t been yet, we’d love to know what’s keeping you. Let us know in the comments section below.
Places Near Soco Falls
We’ve spent quite a bit of time in the mountain town of Maggie Valley and really loved one particular cabin we stayed in, surrounded by trees and beautiful views. Down below, Maggie Valley is well-known for incredible skiing at the Cataloochee Ski Area and full of fun shops and the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum.
Lake Junaluska is also nearby and its popular conference center is frequently busy. We enjoyed walking around the lake, though you can explore it further via canoe, kayak, or paddleboard.
Mingo Falls in Cherokee is a 120-foot tall waterfall that you’ll see after an easy 160 steps. You can quickly combine both Mingo Falls and Soco Falls in a morning before each gets too crowded.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and downtown Cherokee is only 10 miles away from Soco Falls. If you are interested in learning more about Cherokee history and culture, the Oconaluftee Indian Village and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian are close by.
Read More: 20+ Kid-Friendly Waterfalls In NC (Easy Hikes And Swimming Holes!)
Blue Ridge Parkway
You may have come from the Blue Ridge Parkway when traveling to Soco Falls, with a plan in mind. One nearby place on the Parkway we love is Waterrock Knob (MP 451) to the south.
It’s a nice overlook and you can hike to the summit (1.2 miles roundtrip). In fact, it’s the last hike off the Parkway as you head south.
And speaking of south, the end of the Parkway is about 30 miles from Soco Falls. You can turn left and head toward Mingo Falls and Cherokee or turn right toward Great Smoky Mountains National Park and, of course, Clingmans Dome.
If you time it right (1 to 2 hours after sunrise/before sunset), you’ll see a massive herd of elk crossing the road just before the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
Read More: Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes
2 thoughts on “Soco Falls in Cherokee (How to See 2 Incredible Waterfalls)”
My husband and I went to Soco Falls a few years ago. Someone told us we won’t really see it unless we go to the bottom. We did and now have a beautiful canvas hanging over our mantle .It is amazing!”
We’re not kids anymore (74) but we made our 3rd visit to Soco Falls last week. It’s always been a “be careful” walk down to the base of the falls but this time it was really scary. If not for the ropes we wouldn’t have been able to go down at all. This trip it was slippery and I had to crawl back up on part of the path going back up.