The Thomson river gorge is located between the better known Horsepasture River (Gorges State Park) just to the north and the Whitewater river just to the south. There seems to be a lack of naming ingenuity here as the two major waterfalls are named ‘Big’ and ‘High’. More on ‘Big’ sometime in the future. On this trip we visited High Falls and White Owl Falls.
There is no named, blazed trail to High Falls but the trail is clear and obvious. Park on Brewer Rd off of NC-281 and follow the gated forest road uphill from the intersection. This trail crosses a saddle and then descends. The trail to High Falls is tagged with pink ribbons as of this writing. You’ll be looking for a right turn shortly after passing a waterfall on Reid’s Creek. That smaller falls is on your left and you’ll hear it more than see it.
After the right turn the trail is pretty straightforward, you’ll be able to hear High Falls as you descend towards it. The trail ends just below the falls, there is a side trail that gives better access and you’ll have to ford the river somewhere.
This is a beautiful deep pool with several nice rocks to hang out on as well as a sandy beach.
Back up at the trailhead is a route to White Owl Falls, which is higher up the Thomson from High Falls and located just off the road. From Brewer Rd you can walk south on 281. The guardrail stops, when it begins again there is a trail that descends alongside the road. The trail was flagged on our trip and the falls is quite easy to find. There is a very small area at the base of White Owl.