The 12 Must See Waterfalls in South Carolina
The 12 Must-See Waterfalls in South Carolina
While not everyone may like going outside in the hotter months in South Carolina, most would probably love to see a waterfall, one of nature’s most beautiful displays of both elegance and power. For many hikers and adventurers, a stunning display of cascades is a great reward after making their way through miles of forests, rocky creeks, and over tall mountains. Thankfully, South Carolina is loaded with these majestic marvels — some of which can be found without too much of a trek. From the Lowcountry all the way Upstate, here are the 12 must-see South Carolina waterfalls.
1. Pigpen Falls, Oconee County
Pigpen Falls is a smaller waterfall that drops in two cascades just a short distance from its peak. While it’s certainly not a big waterfall, perhaps it deserves a better name, primarily because of the clear and gentle waters that flow down from it. Located within the community of Mountain Rest, it’s also within close proximity to the bigger Licklog Falls.
When taking a hike, you will need to cross over Licklog Creek on a bridge before it joins Pigpen Creek. While the higher tier of this waterfall is hidden by vegetation, visitors can enjoy a nice dip in the second tier’s base. At just 25-feet high, Pigpen Falls offers easier access compared to the other choices here; it’s only 0.9 miles long, so it’s also one of the quicker treks on this list.
However, it is by no means boring — you can take your beloved dog with you, to make it a more fun and rewarding experience. Due to the more laid-back nature of the trail leading to the falls, it is ideal for family outings and for younger adventurers. Furthermore, a large camping area is close by, so overnight stays are possible.
2. Licklog Falls, Oconee County
Located close to Pigpen Falls, Licklog Falls shows a more impressive display of power, so it’s only natural for people to visit here once they’re done with its smaller neighbor. Licklog Falls also boasts a collection of cascades that drop in two tiers. The higher tier stands at 30 feet above the ground, where its water drops into the basin beneath it. The second tier is bigger, and flows straight into the Chattooga River.
While it is possible to make your way down to the base of this waterfall, the descent is quite steep, so extra caution is needed. However, before you get close to the waterfall itself, you’ll need to hike some parts of the 77-mile Foothills Trail, which is followed by a part of the 15.5-mile Chattooga Trail. It’s not as bad as it sounds, though, since there’s less than a mile of walking that connects the Licklog and Pigpen falls, so you can see two waterfalls for the price of one.
It’s also an easy hike — while the terrain is typically rugged in the backcountry, the one-mile route you’ll take has little change in elevation, so it’s family friendly. Because this trail doesn’t get much traffic, you can appreciate the serenity that this unspoiled wilderness has to offer. During warm weather, Licklog Falls is a wonderful spot for families with kids to cool off or have a picnic in.
3. Spoonauger Falls, Oconee County
Spoonauger Falls can be found within Sumter National Forest, where these 50-foot falls come close to Georgia’s border. It’s another short hike, and will only take around 20 minutes to reach via the tree and shrub-filled trail which leads to it. The trail there is just over ¼ mile, and is fairly easy, so pets and kids are welcome here.
This beautiful, multi-tiered waterfall close to the Chattooga River looks its best when the water levels reach higher than normal, so be sure to remember this before hiking there. If you do decide to go there during the dry season, you might just get trickles of water, so it probably won’t be worth the trip. If you go there on a good day, you can expect to see a series of steps to the pool where the refreshing water will certainly cool you off during a hot day.
4. King Creek Falls, Oconee County
If you’re going on a trip just to see waterfalls, then you can combine King Creek Falls and Spoonauger Falls together in one adventure-filled trek. Since both are located within Sumter National Forest, they can easily be accessed separately or together, where the whole family can enjoy the majesty of these waterfalls. Located on the Chattooga River and right on Georgia’s border, King Creek Falls stands slightly higher at 70 feet tall.
Just a short half-mile walk from the parking area to the falls, it offers plenty of areas to sit in and enjoy the gentle spray of water. While water also pours down in stages into a wide gorge, it doesn’t do this in the same manner as that of Spoonauger. There are also basic camping facilities near here, so you can enjoy an overnight stay just a five-minute walk away.
5. Twin Falls, Pickens County
When visiting this area, you get two for the price of one, because as its name suggests, Twin Falls are made up of two streams of water, where the creek splits into two. The higher of the cascades measures 75 feet, and falls off a large chunk of granite. While the second one isn’t as high, it still provides a magnificent image as it sends water over 45 degrees into the bigger falls.
Located close to the community of Sunset, South Carolina, Twin Falls actually has quite a few names, including Reedy Cove Falls, Eastatoe Falls, Rock Falls, and can even be called Triplet Falls whenever precipitation is high. Whenever the snow from the mountains melt, and it begins raining in the spring, a third waterfall appears next to the middle fall. However, it is visibly smaller compared to the two more permanent falls.
Moreover, Twin Falls offers a quick and easy walk to and from its entrance — just a few minutes of walking will take you right to the falls where the views are excellent. While you can get closer to the trail, the views won’t get much better, and the slippery rocks present a danger to visitors. Even if you follow the water downstream, you’ll only find a slide where the water gathers inside a swimming hole, so it’s best to cool off somewhere else.
6. Lower Whitewater Falls, Oconee County
While known as the smaller version of the Upper Whitewater Falls in North Carolina, the Lower Whitewater Falls still stands at 200ft tall and plunges in the same manner as its bigger counterpart. This waterfall is connected to Lake Jocassee, and visitors will be required to move past some Duke Energy infrastructure. Upon arrival at the actual waterfall, you’ll enjoy a quieter experience compared to what you might experience from its bigger brother.
Located near Salem in Oconee County, this beautiful wonder of nature will make for a great photograph for all those who wish to take a moderate hike which should take around 45 minutes to an hour. To get there, park your car approximately two miles away from the waterfall at the Lower Whitewater Falls Trail Access. From the top of the waterfalls, its water takes a dramatic drop into Jocassee Gorge. Head over to the observation platform for great views and to hear its roar.
7. Long Creek Falls, Oconee County
Running for 3.3 miles, Long Creek Falls is aptly named; however, the best way to get there and view the great sights is via the Chattooga River, on a raft. These falls are multi-tiered and stand 50-feet high, but you won’t be able to navigate the waters on your raft. Long Creek Falls is located inside the Sumter National Forest near Long Creek Academy, (which is on the National Register of Historic Places), and sits near the community of Long Creek.
Some people opt to hike to the falls, but there’s no actual path, and the final stretch of the trek can be difficult for novice adventurers. The last part of the hike going to the falls is a steep one, but thankfully you can take your dog with you to this pet-friendly area to lift your spirits up should you find it difficult. Moreover, there may not be any permanent markings since the path to Long Creek Falls isn’t an official trail.
8. Opossum Creek Falls, Oconee County
Also located within the community of Long Creek, South Carolina, Opossum Creek Falls runs for four miles and is a pet-friendly and family-friendly choice, if your kids don’t mind walking. During summer, its creek is a great place for a swim, but it gets too cold during the winter. On your way to the falls, you’ll need to cross the creek twice — the falls themselves have a 50-foot drop that comprises a collection of cascades.
Depending on your sense of adventure, this waterfall might rank among your most difficult excursions or one of your most rewarding experiences. While Opossum Creek Falls offers highly picturesque views, you’ll need to go through a two-hour trek that involves navigating through trees and large rocks at the end.
The trail is designed to take you to the creek and is bordered by beautiful partridgeberry wildflowers and shaded by trees. Once you reach the Chattooga River, you’ll come across heavily vegetated paths where you begin the half-mile hike up to the falls. Be sure to take caution when passing here, since the area makes an excellent habitat for bobcat, wild turkey, and black bears.
9. Laurel Fork Falls, Pickens County
To get to Laurel Fork Falls, you either need to love hiking, or be ready for a challenge. In order to reach them, you’ll have to go through the Foothills Trail for over five hours, where you need to climb many sets of wooden steps — up and down. Making the trek to this waterfall will need you to camp overnight, so be sure to have all your gear prepared.
Running for 8.4 miles, the hike to this waterfall will surely test your abilities, as many have described the trail’s difficulty to be strenuous. It asks adventurers to follow Laurel Creek, which also crisscrosses through the stream on bridges, as well as a suspension bridge. If you’re looking for a challenge and think you have great hiking skills, then this waterfall is a great reward.
If you’re not willing to put in all this effort, an easier and more relaxing alternative to see these falls is through a boat ride on Jocassee Lake. Inside a boat, you’ll be able to appreciate its crescent-shaped grotto along with water that falls from 80 feet above and directly into the lake. This view can be seen at its best after it rains heavily, so be sure to plan your trip ahead of time.
10. Brasstown Falls, Oconee County
Located within Sumter National Forest near Whitmire town, these stunning falls are made up of three cascades which drop from a total of 120 feet. From the base, you’ll be able to see all these beautiful falls, which can be captured in a single picture. They also have their own names — Sluice, Veil, and Cascades, and can be found just a short trip from the parking lot.
While you won’t get tired from walking there, the water can be very inviting on a hot summer day. It’s lovely location makes for a relaxing stay, and the waterfall’s colors are made even more impressive against the sun. Additionally, Brasstown Falls offers one of the easiest hikes in this list; at just 0.1 miles, it only takes 20 minutes to get there by foot.
As a result, it is one of the most popular choices for families with kids and pets, who will surely enjoy the cool waters it offers. While the trail that leads to the Cascades is easy to reach, the Veil and Sluice sections have steep descents and are blocked off by large boulders. As a result, hiking there isn’t recommended for novice hikers.
11. Issaqueena Falls, Oconee County
Another entry from the Sumter National Forest, Issaqueena Falls is only a 15-minute stroll from the parking area, which means that you will get an excellent view of the whole falls just a short distance away. As such, the trail to this waterfall is an even easier trip compared to Spoonauger. However, there is a tougher trail next to the lowest platform, leading to the base of the falls. This path is dangerous, so visitors are discouraged from trying it.
It’s interesting name has an equally interesting background. Legend has it that a young Indian maiden jumped off from these falls to escape from her tribe who didn’t approve of her association with a white silversmith. It is said that she survived the fall and moved to Alabama with her husband.
12. Yellow Branch Falls, Walhalla
Yellow Branch Falls and Issaqueena Falls are known as twin falls, sharing similar dimensions at approximately 75 feet in width and 50 feet in height. However, Yellow Branch isn’t as accessible as the others in this list, and the hike to get there will likely take a few hours to complete, depending on your hiking prowess. You’ll need to cross the creek a few times before arriving at a tranquil setting.
For those who are more experienced in hiking, they will experience a moderately difficult hike that’s around 1.3 miles long through a trail that runs through groves of tulip tree, oak, black gum, and pine. The actual waterfall is located within the Yellow Branch Picnic Area, offering plenty of tables and a shelter equipped with a fireplace. This delightful area is surrounded by mountain laurel and rhododendron, along with a small stream that flows through the area.
These falls offer 60 feet of irregular rocky ledges which make for a dramatic setting, especially if it has just rained. If it hasn’t rained in a while, the falls may only be a trickle of water, and because Yellow Branch Falls is seasonal, the flow will likely be limited during summer. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and practice extra caution when walking on the trail in wet conditions, as it skirts the edges of ravines.
Visit South Carolina Waterfalls Today
South Carolina is a prime location for waterfalls of all kinds, sizes, shapes, and trails, which all range in difficulty. From quick and easy 15-minute hikes, to the more difficult, hour-long hikes suitable for only the best hikers, there’s no shortage of gorgeous and powerful waterfalls in this state. Whether you love going on long walks, or are looking to visit the falls themselves, these are some of the best, must-see falls that South Carolina has to offer.