The upper state of South Carolina is home to some of nature’s most awe-inspiring beauty. The scenery is magnificent, augmented by spectacular waterfalls. Many waterfalls can be viewed after a decent, but not overly strenuous, trek through the woods. From easy to difficult, here are a few waterfalls that are worth the hike.
Level of Difficulty: Easy Wildcat Wayside This short trail begins with a steep set of stairs that climb beside a small but “beautiful” waterfall, as described by the South Carolina Trails website. The rest of the short trail is an easy, gently sloping walk that begins under a canopy of white pine and hemlock, follows a stream through thickets of rhododendron and mountain laurel, and ends at the base of a 130-foot waterslide. Located off the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway near Greenville, Wildcat is about four hours away. Length: 0.8 miles Type: Round Trip Surface: Natural
Twin Falls The left - and larger of the falls - pitches from a height of 75 feet over a slab of granite. The right side manages a short drop onto another chunk of stone and then slides down a 45-degree slope before rejoining the other fall. It’s an estimated 15-minute walk. Twin Falls is in Sunset, about a five-hour drive. Length: 0.3 miles Type: Normal Surface: Natural
Miuka Falls (or Cheohee Falls) A 75-foot waterfall is tucked away on a spur trail off the popular Winding Stairs Trail. Beginners can easily venture along this trail. The hike is noted by South Carolina Trails as an easy 45-minute hike that features birds, small animals and lively wildflowers. More gently graded than steeped, this hike is good for beginners. Be aware that thick foliage at the falls could make getting a clear view a challenge. This hike is located near Mountain Rest (about a five-hour drive). Length: 1.2 miles Type: One Way Surface: Dirt
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Lower Whitewater Falls The Whitewater Falls chain, which includes six waterfalls along the North and South Carolina border, is the highest series of falls in eastern North America. Located about a half-mile down the Whitewater River from the Upper Falls, the Lower Falls features a 200-foot drop. From the parking area a moderate hike of 45 minutes to an hour will bring you to an overlook where you’ll find an “unparalleled view” of the Falls, according South Carolina Trails. The Lower Falls is in Oconee County (five-hour drive). Length: 2 miles Type: One Way Surface: Natural
King Creek Falls The 70-foot King Creek Falls is good for hikers of all abilities. A moderate 30-minute hike will lead hikers to a spot where they can “relax all day long” on a tree trunk and enjoy the spray from the falls. The site notes that the drop appears to be much higher than 70 feet. Estimated time to hike is about 30 minutes. Located in Mountain Rest, which is about five hours away. Length: 0.5 miles Type: One Way Surface: Natural
Brasstown Falls Located in the southern edge of Sumter National Forest, Brasstown Falls tumbles for 120 feet in three consecutive and “equally dramatic drops.” It’s considered a nice place to bring the family because of the moderate, 20-minute hike and calm swimming hole at the base of the upper falls. A beautiful hike during the fall. Drive time to Brasstown Falls is five hours. Length: 0.3 miles Type: One Way Surface: Natural
Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Oppossum Creek Falls This is a challenging two-hour hike for the 50-foot Opossum Creek Falls. Most of the two-mile hike moves along a “pleasant” forest service trail. When you reach the Chattooga River, turn left onto a heavily vegetated path and “scramble” around rocks and trees for a half-mile hike to the base of the falls. The Opossum Falls is a five-hour drive in Long Creek. Length: 2 miles Type: One Way Surface: Natural (Rocky)
Lee Falls Considered one of Oconee County’s most scenic waterfalls, the 75-foot-high falls has no official trail, but for years it’s been a well-traveled 1.5-mile trek. Look for a spray cliff which brings a habitat of amphibians, mosses, and ferns. There are several streams on the way to falls. Hunting is allowed in this area, so South Carolina Trails suggests wearing brightly colored clothes. Lee Falls is in Tamassee, which is a five-hour drive. Length: 1.5 miles Type: One Way Surface: Natural
Blue Ridge Electric Co-Op Passage Get set for a long but rewarding hike. The Jocassee Gorges area of the trail (10 miles) is in some of the most “rugged and remote” hiking areas in the state, but you will see mountain top vistas, waterfalls, and a large boulder field. There are birds, deer, and foxes. Make sure to carry water and food if needed. Insect repellent is recommended during warm months. Length: 12.3 miles Type: One Way Surface: Natural (rugged), Bridge.