Check Out Our Stunning Top 10
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South Carolina Waterfalls
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Growing up in the Lowcountry offers beautiful landscapes, fantastic wildlife and endless water views…oh, and flat land! When I first became interested in hiking in the mountains to see waterfalls, I wondered if I would be able to do it. I discovered I can! It just takes a little time and research to find out which falls are the best for your endurance, not all of them are rigorous treks.
The upstate of South Carolina, a mild weekend trip away, offers new scenic wonders for you to enjoy—a new type of water view, with roaring sound and beautiful cascades can be breathtaking. When I witnessed my first waterfall, I stood there in jaw-dropped awe. It’s like no other feeling. So, with that in mind, I’ve researched SC’s top 10 most popular waterfalls.
Start Early: Avoid beginning hikes late in the afternoon, as you may not be able to complete your hike before sundown. Navigating after dark gets tricky, and most trails are considered closed to the public after sunset, unless camping.
Get the ALLTRAILS App: AllTrails has the largest collection of detailed trail info, curated by three million hikers, campers and mountain bikers, like you. Whether at home or on the road, find the perfect hike/bike/run by trail length, rating and difficulty level. The FREE app features options to “favorite” trails, driving directions, recording your activity, following friends for inspiration and filtering by dog-friendly, kid-friendly and wheelchair-friendly trails. You can also visit www.alltrails.com to access this information.
#10. Lower Whitewater Falls: We are going to start big—really big. Part of a chain of falls—Whitewater Falls—billed as the highest series in eastern North America, this section of the cascade plunges a dramatic 200-feet in the Jocassee Gorges. It’s a moderate two-mile hike to an overlook, where you can stand and gaze in amazement at the enormous rush of water plummeting down a rock face. The hike is a moderate one-hour, two-mile hike along the Foothills Trail and a spur trail that goes to the overlook. Where: Lake Jocassee, SC For more info: www.world-of-waterfalls.com/eastern-us-lower-whitewater-falls
#9. Spoonauger Falls: Little effort. Lots of reward! It’s about 20 minutes to reach this 50-foot waterfall, which is set back into a lush green hillside covered in trees and shrubbery. The water runs down a stepped rock face spilling onto a flat area of rock—an inviting spot to dip your feet on a hot summer day. The kids will love searching for salamanders hiding among the rocks. During daylight hours, tiny bats tuck themselves into crevices in the rock face of the falls. Where: Sumter National Forest in Mountain Rest, SC For more info: www.upcountrysc.com/Waterfalls/Spoonauger-Falls-807
#8. King Creek Falls: If you visit Spoonauger, don’t miss the chance to see this spectacular 70-foot waterfall near the Chattooga River. The hike is a bit more taxing, but worth the extra sweat. You can wade at the bottom of the falls, enjoy the restful beach or sit on one of the downed trees and enjoy the refreshing spray. Where: Sumter National Forest in Mountain Rest, SC For more info: www.sciway.net/sc-photos/oconee-county/king-creek-falls
#7. Twin Falls: This breathtaking natural attraction starts out as Reedy Creek and then splits to form two cascades. The larger of the falls thunders down from a height of 75 feet over a massive granite slab; the twin to the right is just as spectacular, barreling over chunks of rock piled at a 45-degree angle plunging into a small swimming hole. This easy trail is a short hike and at the end there is an overlook shelter that treats visitors to an excellent view of the falls. Where: US 178N, Past Hwy 11, Left on Cleo Chapman Rd; Sunset, SC For more info: www.visitpickenscounty.com/vendor/40/eastatoe-fallstwin-falls
#6. Issaqueena Falls: Beautiful waterfalls with easy access, this hike is only about 300 feet down a wide, gentle graveled path. At a leisurely pace, it may take 15 minutes to get to the overlook. Be sure to check out the story on the name of the falls. While there, visit Stumphouse Tunnel Park, a pre-civil war tunnel—bring a flashlight, it can be very dark! Where: Walhalla, SC, off SC Hwy 28 in Stumphouse Tunnel Park. For more info: www.oconeecountry.com/stumphouse
#5. Raven Cliff Falls: The mother of all SC waterfalls, this 420-foot beauty spills gracefully off Raven Cliff Mountain into the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The trail to the falls is one of the most popular in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. The first and last quarter-miles are the steepest, but it’s no more than a moderate climb. The 3.7 mile hike takes about 90 minutes to reach the overlook. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be leashed. Where: Raven Cliff Falls Trail, which is on the right one mile beyond Caesars Head State Park. The trailhead is marked with red blazes. For more info: www.alltrails.com/trail/us/south-carolina/raven-cliff-falls-trail
#4. Long Creek Falls: This multi-tiered, 50-foot waterfall is one of the highlights of a whitewater trip that doesn’t involve plunging into a raging torrent of water. Landlubbers can hike to the falls on an official Forest Service trail. This 1.6-mile hike is delightful because of the wildlife and, in the summertime, the abundant wildflowers. Look for a spur trail to Top-of-the-Rock for a spectacular view of the Chattooga. Where: Sumter National Forest, Mountain Rest, SC For more info: www.upcountrysc.com/Waterfalls/Long-Creek-Falls-801
#3. Laurel Fork Falls: This one’s tough, but the unbelievable view of this 80-foot cascade makes it all worth it. This five-to-six hour hike on the Foothills Trail is considered a strenuous hike, with many wooden steps to traverse. If you are opposed to hoofing it, take a relaxing boat ride in Lake Jocassee to check out the falls, navigating into Laurel Fork Creek Cove. Tours with guides are available. Where: Lake Jocassee, SC For more info: www.upcountrysc.com/Waterfalls/Laurel-Fork-Falls-787
#2. Rainbow Falls: Accessible from SC and NC and falling over 100-feet with steep walls streaked with gneiss and mica schist, Rainbow Falls is a stunner. A series of smaller cascades below the main drop offer up plenty of photo ops and good hanging out time. It’s a strenuous hike to get to, climbing 1,000 feet over a distance of 1.6 miles. Go for it! If you pack a lunch and take time to enjoy the hike and waterfall, this could be a four to five hour adventure. It’s so worth it. Where: Jones Gap State Park, Marietta, SC For more info: www.ncwaterfalls.com/rainbow_sc1
#1. Falls Creek Falls: An all-time favorite, this 125-foot cascade is one of the finest in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness area. There are two ways to get to it—neither particularly easy. The shorter trail, named after the falls, is about two miles with long, steep sections. Or, up your game and take the rugged five-mile Hospital Rock Trail that will bring you to the other side of the falls. Either way, it’s a fantastic show! Where: Marietta, SC, Park at 140 Fall Creek Road and follow the trail. For more info: www.upcountrysc.com/waterfalls/falls-creek-falls-781