Lower Whitewater Falls, South Carolina

Lower Whitewater Falls (32)

Lower Whitewater Falls in March 2009

I had the chance to visit Lower Whitewater Falls over nine years ago, so some of my recollections may be a bit rusty. I had been seeing waterfalls in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. I had first stopped at Upper Whitewater Falls, which is on the same river, but across the border in North Carolina. (When I visited the area in March 2017, the Upper Whitewater Falls area was closed due to forest fire damage.)

Upper Whitewater Falls was very easy to visit, whereas seeing Lower Whitewater Falls required a bit more effort. At that time, I would hike to a lot of waterfalls in a day, sometimes going 13 or 14 miles. Essentially, I would wear myself out! So I got to Lower Whitewater Falls, and the hike seemed more strenuous than I expected. There were some portions where I’d climb a bit uphill and then downhill, and then repeat the process. That kind of hiking can take a bit of a toll, even though it may not be as problematic as having to climb consistently uphill. At the time, I also didn’t like to bring as much water as needed on hikes, and that made me very thirsty after arriving back at the car. (I’ve learned some lessons over the years.)

But luckily, Lower Whitewater Falls is a beautiful waterfall. At 200′, it’s an impressive drop. While you’re not extremely close (because it’s a pretty big drop), you’ll still get more than adequate views of the falls.

Directions:

  1. To get to the falls, you want to get to the border of North Carolina and South Carolina along NC-281/SC-130.
  2. The road that leads to the falls is right past the border on the South Carolina side. You’ll be looking for Bad Creek Road, which will be on your left if you’re heading south.
  3. Turn onto Bad Creek Road. You’ll pass through a gate for Duke Energy, and it’s fine to go through.
  4. Drive along Bad Creek Road to the trail head for the falls.

Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Height: 200′
Length of Hike: 3.8 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Lower Whitewater Falls?

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Upper Sloan Bridge Falls, South Carolina

I’m struggling a bit with how to describe Upper Sloan Bridge Falls. I rated the hike to this falls just after getting back from the hike, and rated it as a moderate/difficult hike. Considering that the whole hike is only 0.7 miles round trip, you might wonder how it could be difficult.

It’s often easy to focus on length of hike, and not as much on vertical climb. I try to look at both…If you see a hike is 1 mile one-way, but there’s a 600′ elevation gain, you better be ready for a tough hike. In this case, it’s the last hundred feet or so! In that hundred feet, you’re going to descend about 100′. (Don’t quote me on the exact number, but it’s steep.) When I first saw the falls, I couldn’t actually see where the descent “ended”. Only after getting a bit closer did I discover that it was “possible” to get to the base of the falls.

After getting to the base of the falls (which in some ways is more difficult), you have to get back up. I had hiked to a few other waterfalls earlier that day, and to come to this steep descent and return, I wore myself out.  Since I was so close to the Lower Falls and Hiker’s Peril, I went further, but I was ready to get back into the car and go to my hotel to rest!

Directions:

  1. I arrived by heading north on SC-107. About 1 mile before SC-107 crosses over into North Carolina, you’ll find the parking area for the creek/falls on your left. There will be a sign, which I believe will mention the Sloan Bridge Campground.
  2. After parking, head to your left toward the trail. The trail you’re on is part of a larger trail that connects to other points of interest.

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/difficult)
Height: 45′ (total, individual drops are smaller)
Length of Hike: 0.7 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Upper Sloan Bridge Falls?

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The largest drop of Upper Sloan Bridge Falls in March 2017

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Another drop of Upper Sloan Bridge Falls

Kings Creek Falls, South Carolina

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Kings Creek Falls in March 2017

This time eight years ago, I was visiting waterfalls in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and I decided it was time to go back. I wanted to find a few more waterfalls in South Carolina, but didn’t want to have to go on crazy drives to find falls. (I had already visited many of the easy-to-find ones.) After searching it seemed I could hit two waterfalls at once, Kings Creek Falls and Spoonauger Falls, without a difficult journey or hike. That search turned out to be correct.

I tend to avoid narrow dirt roads, especially when in a rental car. The road to the trail heads, while gravel, is very wide and well kept. I had no fears while driving down the road. I arrived at a parking area for a campground, and was a bit confused about where to start the journey to Kings Creek Falls. Let’s just say I ended up at Spoonauger Falls first, though that did help me get my bearings.

To get to Kings Creek Falls, that large parking area to your left is the starting point. There is an information “kiosk”/board that shows a map of the area with trails, but it doesn’t clearly state you’re at the Kings Creek Falls trail head. But you are…So go past the kiosk, and about 100 feet in or so, there will be a sign that says you’re headed to Kings Creek Falls. I think the sign said it’s 1 mile, but it’s less than that. The hike to the falls is surprisingly easy, with a few areas where tree roots do create a bit of a tripping hazard. You’ll cross a bridge over Kings Creek, and then you’ll continue upstream (veer a bit left).

Kings Creek Falls is a truly beautiful waterfall. At approximately 60′ tall, it’s impressive. For early spring, there should probably be a bit more water flowing over the falls, but as of Spring 2017, there is a “severe drought” right in the waterfall region of NC, SC, & GA. It did rain just the day before I visited, which meant there was some additional water flowing. Even then, the hike’s very enjoyable, relatively uncomplicated, and you end up at a beautiful waterfall. Choose the right day, and you’ll likely be one of only a few people to visit the falls. I had the falls all to myself!

Directions:

  1. Drive along SC-107 (in between the North Carolina border and Oconee State Park).
  2. Find Burrells Ford Road. If heading south along SC-107, it will be on your right. Turn onto Burrells Ford Road.
  3. Drive for about 2.5 miles along the road to a parking area on your left. It’s mostly gravel, but it’s well kept.
  4. Park and look for the kiosk near the front of the parking area. The trail to the falls starts right after the kiosk.

(On the return hike, there is one confusing point, after crossing over Kings Creek Falls, there will be two trails, one that goes left and follows the creek. Don’t follow this, but instead follow the other trail that goes slightly uphill (which will still be to your left just a bit)).

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 60′
Length of Hike: 1.4 miles round-trip

Pearson’s Falls, North Carolina

I’m back in the North Carolina/South Carolina/Georgia/Tennessee vicinity, and there are so many waterfalls in the area. I wasn’t sure where to start today, but decided to head to Pearson’s Falls first, since it wasn’t an extremely long drive from the Greenville/Spartanburg area.

Pearson’s Falls is a very pretty waterfall. At 90′, it’s impressive, and the Tyron Garden Club has done a very good job of keeping up the trails and park. From the few falls I saw today, it seems as though the water flow is just a bit lower than normal. I’ll see if this continues to be a trend for other waterfalls in the region.

I’m going to comment on one interesting thing I experienced today at the falls…Who knows, someone who reads this might even be one of the people there. When I got to the falls, there were at least six different photographers with their tripods out taking pictures of the falls. I have never seen that many people, so it made me wonder whether there was some regular Sunday morning photography meeting! With that being said, it did create a bit of an odd situation. I really wasn’t sure where to sneak in and take pictures since I didn’t want to get in the way of anybody. A couple walking to the falls arrived after me, and turned around pretty quickly. I still was able to get some good shots, but probably didn’t hang around as long.

Directions:

  1. There are a few different main roads that can lead to the falls, so I’ll describe the one I followed. From I-26 right near the NC/SC border, I was heading north and took exit 67 toward NC-108.
  2. Go through the roundabout and take the exit that heads west along NC-108, and then go through another roundabout to continue heading west. Continue along NC-108 W for a few miles.
  3. Veer right onto Harmon Field Road. After about 2000 ft, turn right onto US-176.
  4. After a few miles along US-176, turn left onto Pearson Falls Road. (While on US-176, you’ll also pass the trailhead for Melrose Falls, which I would have stopped at if I had know it existed!)
  5. Drive along Pearson Falls Road for about a mile to the park entrance. Check Pearson’s Falls website for the most current park hours. There is also an entrance fee, and the hike to the falls is pretty easy once you’ve parked.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 90′
Length of Hike: ~0.6 miles round-trip

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Pearson’s Falls in March 2017

Where in the World is Pearson’s Falls?

Issaqueena Falls, South Carolina

Issaqueena Falls in March 2009

It’s been over four years since I visited Issaqueena Falls, so I hope I haven’t forgotten too much about the falls.  The northwest portion of South Carolina has a number of really great waterfalls, and Isaqueena Falls is one of those.  It is definitely worth visiting if you’re in the region.  (I made a trip visiting waterfalls in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and visited over 30 waterfalls in 4 days.)

The roads around the falls are winding and curvy, so it makes finding the right road to turn on a fun adventure.  (I don’t remember if there was a sign on the road indicating the falls.  I think there must have been…)  Once you find the road leading to the parking area, you’ll head down the rather steep Stumphouse Tunnel Road to the park/parking area.  From this area, the falls are very easily accessible.

The trail to the falls is short, only about 0.2 miles.  You can view the whole falls, and you’re not viewing them at crest-level.  After this, there is an obvious, though riskier trail that brings you closer to the base.  It isn’t necessary to head to the base to get a great view of the falls.  I think I went down partway, though I don’t seem to remember going down the whole distance.  The falls are approximately 100′ or so tall, so it’s not an overwhelming hike down.  (One website indicated 200′ tall, which seems wildly exaggerated, unless there counting some cascades upstream or downstream…)  Both the size and the accessibility of Issaqueena Falls make it a very worthwhile visit.  The park is also idea for picnicking.  (If you need more convincing, Station Cove Falls is not that far away. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but Yellow Branch Falls, which I have yet to visit, is right across the road…it requires a longer hike.)

Directions:

  1. The falls are found a short distance off of SC-28, northwest of Walhalla.  (If heading south, the falls are a few miles after the junction of SC-28 and SC-107.)
  2. If headed northwest from Walhalla, drive along SC-28.
  3. Look for Stumphouse Tunnel Road on your right.  (If you’re heading south, the turn is on your left, and is a rather sharp turn.)  Turn onto Stumphouse Tunnel Road.  (I didn’t realize at the time that Stumphouse Tunnel Road also leads to an unfinished tunnel that sounds like it could be interesting to visit.)
  4. Drive to the parking area for the falls.  An informative sign will indicate that you’re in the right location.
  5. Hike along the short trail to the falls.  If I remember correctly, you’ll cross a small wooden bridge over Cane Creek, the source of the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 100′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Issaqueena Falls?

Raven Cliff Falls, South Carolina

As I’m starting the hike along the trail to Raven Cliff Falls, I meet a couple that had lived in Michigan, but now lives in South Carolina.  I tell them I’m visiting for a few days, and they inform me that Raven Cliff Falls is one of the most visited falls in the area.  At the time, I thought, “Cool. I hope that means Raven Cliff Falls is impressive.”  Well, after arriving at the viewpoint for the falls, I would have to wonder why anybody would want to put the amount of time and effort needed to view the falls.

It probably didn’t start off very well when I couldn’t even find a parking spot.  Finally, after wandering around in the rental car, I found that there was addition parking north of the state park parking area.  It is graciously provided by the owner of an inn.  This means I have to add a small but additional amount to the hike.  From the get go, you can tell the hike will be interesting, especially on the return.  It’s moderately steep on the way down.  While there is a trail, there are points where the trail clearly devolves into “sliding” over logs to reconnect back to the trail.  It was ok on the way down, but even more interesting on the way back.

Now it’s not a LONG hike, about 4 miles round trip, but it is consistently up-and-down going.  I definitely felt worn out after this hike, and I honestly could not wait for it to end.  The hike to the falls might be more worthwhile if the view was subsequently worthwhile…but it’s just not!  You are at least a 1/4 of a mile from the falls, and even though it’s over 400′ tall, it disappears in the background.  A 55-300 mm lens is an absolute MUST, which I did not own at the time.  My 18-55 lens makes the waterfall look puny, even after editing.  Oh well…To each their own.

Directions:

  1. Head north on US-276 past Caesars Head State Park for about a mile to the parking area leading to the falls.  If parking is not available there, head a little further north to the sign indicating additional parking.
  2. From the trail head, essentially follow the signs.  At first, it doesn’t seem clear, but it’s really hard to miss.  The hike feels very long.

Accessibility: 2/10 (difficult)
Height: 420′
Length of Hike: 4.4 miles round-trip

Raven Cliff Falls (33)

Raven Cliff Falls in March 2009

Where in the World is Raven Cliff Falls?

Lower Wildcat Branch Falls, South Carolina

Lower Wildcat Branch Falls was the first waterfall that I saw on my trip to see waterfalls in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. While it is a smaller waterfall, and leads to the taller Upper Wildcat Falls, it is still pretty nonetheless. One of it’s major benefits is that it’s a roadside waterfall, and is amazingly easy to view.

I was trying to find the best viewpoint to take a photograph of the falls, and I definitely had a lot of fun jumping around in the creek. The creek is not very deep, and you can easily walk across parts of the creek to get better views.

Directions:

  1. There are multiple ways to reach the two falls. The easiest way is to find where US-276 and SC-11 split in northern South Carolina. The parking area for the falls will be about 1/2 a mile east of that split.
  2. You should be able to see Lower Wildcat Branch Falls from the road. The parking area for the falls is right there.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: Roadside

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Lower Wildcat Branch Falls in March 2009

Where in the World is Lower Wildcat Branch Falls?