Hiking or backpacking the Beach Creek Loop Trail is a spectacularly scenic outdoor adventure. Located in an out-of-the way corner of the Nantahala Wilderness in North Carolina, but accessible by car only through Georgia, it is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. Offering three pristine waterfalls and truly astounding views of the Tallulah River Valley from atop Big Scaly Mountain, hikers will find plenty of soulful solitude and may just catch themselves wondering why there isn’t more of a crowd.
The road access to the trailhead is through Tate City, Georgia. Once a prosperous mining and logging town, it now has the feel of a beautiful and mysterious ghost town with dirt roads and houses tucked away around dramatic bends and hillsides. Drive north through Tate City and about one half-mile into North Carolina. On the left (or west) side of the road is a parking area and campsite. Walk south from the parking area about 50 feet and look for the trail on the opposite side of the road heading east.
The first 6 miles of the trail are packed full of interesting and amazing sights. At mile 1.2, you can access Bull Cove Falls, a fantastic 40-foot falls. The trail down to the falls requires a short bit of scrambling, but your effort will be well rewarded. Next, at mile 1.8, is Bear Creek Falls, a small, pretty, rain-dependent 20-foot falls. Later, at mile 3.5, you will encounter a historical rock wall, a relic of times past, when corundum was actively mined in the area and crushed right at this wall.
Finally, at around mile 4, you will find a side trail leading to High Falls. High Falls is clearly the more spectacular falls on this hike. At over 100 feet high and 40 feet wide in places, multiple streaks of water weave into a stunning white web as the stream flows across a gorgeous rock face, making for a truly unique and dazzling sight.
After leaving High Falls, the trail will turn north, leaving the creek, and becomes noticeably overgrown. For this reason, winter and early spring are the preferred hiking seasons—the trail becomes difficult to hike until the overgrowth dies back at the end of the fall season. At around mile 6, there is a nice, comfortable backcountry campsite to the right of the trail, and to the left of the trail is an unmarked trail that summits Big Scaly Mountain. Words cannot describe the majestic beauty of the unobstructed view atop Big Scaly Mountain overlooking the Tallulah River Valley to the east.
Continuing on the trail and down the mountain, at mile 8.7 is a side trail that leads to Chimney Rock, an interesting rock formation that you can climb. At this point the trail starts becoming less overgrown, and finally, after a healthy descent, at mile 10.9 you will turn left and head south back toward the parking area to complete the loop.