Though not widely known, Mingo Falls is a beautiful 120 foot waterfall located on the Qualla Boundary (better known as the Cherokee Reservation.) To access it you drive up to Big Cove and continue along the roadway until you see a small sign that says “Mingo” on your right.
I only heard about its existence when a shopkeeper asked if I had been to the falls while I was doing some souvenir hunting. I followed his directions and saw the sign just before I turned around, having decided moments before that I had to have gone too far. There was a parking area at the bottom, free of charge. The beginning of the trail is made of wide steps with a handrail, which then becomes a relatively smooth trail at an easy grade. I made my way down this trail and was surprised to find it was only a quarter of a mile, and that it ended at a scenic bridge overlooking the falls. I was stunned that such an amazing landmark hadn’t received more notice. It’s beautiful! The way the water runs down the rocks gives a white lace effect that is difficult to catch in photos.
Things to be considered: there is no bathroom, no water fountain, and dogs are welcome. The area surrounding the falls in either direction is residential, so it is advisable that on completing your hike, you return to the main thoroughfare. If you should look for additional trails, you will find that you are trespassing and that it is not looked upon favorably.
Overall it is a beautiful view at the cost of an extremely short hike. In fact, some might even call it a walk. Whatever you call it, the view of Mingo Falls at the top makes it a must if you should be visiting the Qualla Boundary.