South Carolina’s Upcountry has more than 100 spectacular waterfalls, more than any other part of the Eastern United States. This makes for some truly wonderful outings. The 10 best waterfalls in South Carolina included in this article will leave you in awe!
For passionate hikers, there is nothing better than ending a half-day hike through a forest, along a creek and up the mountain with the view of falling water, a cool spray on the face and the rainbow above the deep pool.
What is so wonderful about South Carolina waterfalls is that most of them are fairly easy to reach, after a lovely hike that even kids enjoy. Here are just ten of the best waterfalls in South Carolina to get you in the mood. Once you get hooked, you can visit the others.
10 Best Waterfalls in South Carolina
Let’s see the best waterfalls in South Carolina – as these are some of the best things to see in South Carolina.
Here are the top ten South Carolina waterfalls:
- Raven Cliff Falls
- Lower Whitewater Falls
- Issaqueena Falls
- Spoonauger Falls
- King Creek Falls
- Twin Falls
- Long Creek Falls
- Laurel Fork Falls
- Rainbow Falls
- Falls Creek Falls
Raven Cliff Falls
The tallest South Carolina waterfall, Raven Cliff Falls, is formed by Matthews Creek as it drops 420 feet off Raven Cliff Mountain into the hills below and it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in North Carolina.
This magnificent waterfall is located in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area in Caesars Head State Park, Greenville County. It is one of the most scenic waterfalls in North Carolina. The waterfall got its name from over 150 species of ravens that breed on the high cliffs around the falls.
The falls can be reached by a moderately difficult four-mile hike. The trail is steep only at the end. It takes about an hour and a half to reach the overlook across the gorge that offers a fantastic view of the falls.
The trail is very popular and often busy. Bring the kids and dogs, as long as they are on the leash (dogs, not kids.)
Lower Whitewater Falls
Lower Whitewater Falls is a dramatic cascade that drops 200 feet into the steep Jocassee Gorge. It is one of the highest series of falls in eastern North America and one of the most beautiful falls in South Carolina.
The fall is fairly easy to reach after a two-mile moderately difficult hike. Once you reach the spacious wooden overlook, you will be able to enjoy the magnificent view of the water as it spills down the face of the almost vertical rock.
The trailhead to the Lower Whitewater falls is located about an hour and a half from Greenville South Carolina and Asheville North Carolina.
The waterfall is located within Duke Energy’s Bad Creek Hydroelectric station but the entrance is open to the public. There are some porta-potties in the large parking lot.
The trail is well-marked and maintained. At some point, you will cross a solid bridge across a whitewater river. The trail is full of exposed roots and a bit rocky but very scenic and mostly shady.
The ascent is a bit steeper after you join the Foothills Trail before it joins a short gravel road that leads to the overlook and the falls. It is a great spot to rest and enjoy the power and the beauty of nature, before returning the same way.
Next on this list of top South Carolina waterfalls is Issaqueena Falls. This is a spectacular 100-foot cascade in Oconee County near the City of Walhalla, in Stumphouse Tunnel Park.
It is one of the largest waterfalls in South Carolina. It is easily reached by a short, easy, 15-minute walk.
Its beauty, easy access and a famous legend attached to it make it a very popular tourist attraction.
There is a nice observation platform at the end of the trail but the view gets obscured by the trees. You can walk to the bottom of the waterfall for a better view, along a steep and slippery dirt path. Rocks, tree roots and mud make it pretty treacherous and dangerous so stay away if you are hiking with kids.
As the story goes, a young Indian girl Issaqueena jumped off the top of the 100-foot cascade to escape her tribesman who was not happy that she had run off with a local silversmith.
In one version of the story, Issaqueena survived the jump and lived happily ever after with her husband in Alabama.
Stumphouse Park offers more than just a lovely view of the falls. It has a wooden covered bridge over a creek, an unfinished Civil War-era tunnel, hiking and mountain biking trails, lovely picnic areas, and spectacular nature.
Park admission is $5 per vehicle.
Spoonauger Falls is a very picturesque 50-foot multi-tiered waterfall in the Sumter National Forest and the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area, a part of the Chattooga River watershed.
You can reach the falls after just a short half-mile or 20-minute hike through the lush forest and shrubbery that cover a hillside.
The water spills over a stepped rock face to the area of flat rocks, forming a cool pool that is incredibly inviting on a hot summer day. The hike is easy enough for the kids and the bonus is finding colorful salamanders in the rock crevices.
The best way to start the hike to the falls is from the Chattooga Trail trailhead on Burrells Ford Road. There is ample parking along the road.
The best time for a visit is after spring rains when the snowmelt from the mountains fills the river with cold water that spills in broad sheets over the rock. The whole area is surrounded by masses of blooming rhododendron which make this one of the best places to see in South Carolina.
King Creek Falls
A 70-foot waterfall on the Chattooga River, King Creek Falls is located in the same area as Spoonauger Falls and you can make it a part of the same day hike. It’s just a short mile up the road.
The hike is moderately difficult, but well worth the extra effort once you see the falls. The water spills into a U-shaped deep cove surrounded by laurel.
Go to the bottom of the falls, sit on one of the downed logs and enjoy the cool spray on your face. The water is shallow enough to let the kids wade through.
Twin Falls is a breathtaking 75-foot waterfall created by Reedy Cove Creek as it spills down the enormous granite slab in two cascades.
The smaller twin fall on the right side falls over piles of rock at a 45-degree angle. Twin Falls are among the most picturesque waterfalls in South Carolina.
Following the water downstream, you will find a rock slide that spills into a lovely natural swimming hole.
Twin Falls is located in the Jocassee Gorge Wilderness Area, just north of Pickens. You can reach it after an easy quarter of a mile hike, with a very mild elevation change. There is an observation deck that offers a great view of the falls.
The trailhead to Twin Fall is located on Water Falls Road near Sunset, South Carolina. There is a small parking area that can fill quickly so come early. There are no restrooms.
The trail is well maintained and there are spots where you can easily get to the creek and dip your toes in the water. The spacious observation deck offers fantastic views of the falls.
Long Creek Falls
Located in the Sumter National Forest, on the Georgia and South Carolina border, magnificent 50-foot tall multi-tiered Long Creek Falls is less than 30 yards from the point where Long Creek spills into the Chattooga River. You should definitely include it as well on your South Carolina itinerary.
It takes only a little more than a mile to get to the bottom of the falls. It is a wonderful spot for a picnic, to enjoy the view and sounds of the falls and watch kayakers on their way down the Chattooga River.
The trail for Long Creek Falls starts in Long Creek, South Carolina, at the Turkey Ridge Road, about an hour from Franklin North Carolina.
The unpaved road is in decent shape but isn’t marked. There are no restroom facilities.
The trail leads all the way to the shore of the Chattooga. It is fairly steep but not too bad. You will be able to spot the falls through the trees.
The trail ends at a large clearing where you can see Long Creek meeting the Chattooga River, and the magnificent Long Creek Falls is just upstream. It is a truly magical spot in the forest.
There are many rafting and kayaking outfits on the Chattooga River you can join to extend your adventure and see the falls from the water.
Laurel Fork Falls
Laurel Fork Falls creates a dramatic 80-foot drop into Lake Jocassee, in Pond Mountain Wilderness, in the Pisgah National Forest.
There is an easy way to see the falls – from the boat on the lake, or by a difficult, six-hour eight-mile hike on the Foothills Trail. The trail includes plenty of wooden steps that go up and down until you reach the lake and can see the falls.
If you go with the family, go by boat. It will take you into the Laurel Fork Creek and the grotto behind the rock tower.
There are actually quite a few beautiful waterfalls around Lake Jocassee, you might want to visit some of them while you are in the area. My favorite is Wright Creek Falls.
Cox Camp Creek forms Rainbow Falls by dropping 100 feet over steep vertical rock wall. Add to this a profusion of purple azaleas in full bloom in early spring and you have a postcard-worthy excursion.
But, reaching this stunning waterfall is not easy and not for a family adventure. You will be climbing 1,000 feet to cover 1.6 miles of trail.
Count on four to five hours of strenuous exercise, but it is so gorgeous that it is worth it.
The access to the trail is in Camp Greenville at the NC/SC border, just south of Brevard, NC.
The five-mile-long Jones Gap Trail follows the river from Jones Gap State Park near Brevard. There is a $5 fee to access the park.
Falls Creek Falls
Falls Creek Falls is a 125-foot spectacular cascade in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. Starting on a ridge in Sumter National Forest, Fall Creek runs through the remote wilderness area over outcroppings and rocky ledges before spilling into the magnificent National Wild and Scenic Chattooga River.
Within a one-mile stretch of Fall Creek, there are three scenic waterfalls, between 30 to 40 feet each. Only the first one can be reached after an easy 10-minute hike from the trailhead. The others require taking the rough five-mile Hospital Rock Trail. It will bring you to the other side of the falls.
The trail starts near the town of Long Creek, on the Fall Creek Road. There is a path that goes down a steep riverbank into the dense woods.
Very quickly you will see the multi-level cascade.
To get to the upper falls, keep going for a few more minutes. You will be walking along the right side of the moss-covered ledges.
If you want to see the second level of falls, go back about 100 feet and take a path that heads down the creek through dense rhododendron bushes. It will take about an hour to reach the falls along a rough, worn trail, but the scene you will find will be well worth the effort. The trail to the base of the falls is slippery and steep,
It’s quite easy to visit most of the best waterfalls in South Carolina.
You can see many of them by taking a day trip with the kids. A few hikes require a bit more effort but once you fall in love with the spectacular South Carolina nature that surrounds the falls, you won’t mind the physical effort.
About the author:
This post was contributed by Lorena Maia. Lorena was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Since then, she has lived in several countries in Europe, traveled to the United States and Asia. At the moment she lives in Sydney, Australia. She loves traveling and she started her blog to share her travel experiences with others.
Photo sources: Shutterstock, provided by Lorena