South Carolina sits on the Atlantic Coast of South East USA and is one of the original 13 States. It was first settled by wealthy plantation owners and their slaves in the second half of the 17th century. The first shots of the Civil War were fired here, in Fort Sumter. The state has come a long way and now offers a huge number of attractions for tourists. Its beaches are sub-tropical and offshore islands hold further appeal.
South Carolina has around 50 state parks and its population of five million – along with tourists – have much to enjoy in the natural environment. For those interested in the state’s water courses, here are 15 amazing waterfalls in South Carolina to enjoy – many of them upstate.
1. Lower Whitewater Falls, Oconee County
When it comes to height, Lower Whitewater Falls comes towards the top of the list, certainly in eastern USA. Further up the Whitewater River in North Carolina, there are impressive falls, but across the border in South Carolina, these falls make a great photograph.
You can park your car and it is a fairly easy two-mile hike to reach this 200-foot cascade of water that drops into Jocassee Gorge.
You can overlook this water gushing down the rock face from the observation platform and hear its power.
2. Long Creek Falls, Onocee County
The best way to reach Long Creek Falls is on a raft on part of the Chattooga River.
They are multi-tiered and 50-feet high but not navigable on your raft.
You can hike to the falls but there is no official path and the trek is rated as difficult because of the final stretch.
The last part of the hike is steep and you should ignore the left fork which just goes to the river.
Keep going and you will reach the base of these spectacular falls.
Take a rest here, because the climb back up is steep.
3. Opossum Creek Falls, Oconee County
The trail that allows you to see Opossum Creek Falls is four miles long and family-friendly if the kids don’t mind walking.
You can take your dog on a leash.
In hot weather, the creek is a great place to cool off, though don’t swim during the winter – it is cold! You have to cross the creek twice on the way to the falls, which drop around 50 feet in a series of cascades.
The trail actually takes you down to the creek, which is regularly used by kayakers.
Continue and you will get to the base of the falls.
4. Pigpen Falls, Oconee County
While Pigpen Falls drop just a short distance in two cascades, they perhaps deserve a nicer name than ‘Pigpen,’ even though they are fairly small.
They are just a short distance away from the more impressive Licklog Falls.
You cross Licklog Creek over a bridge just before Pigpen Creek joins it.
A short distance on, take the left-hand fork and Pigpen Falls are in front of you.
The higher tier is often hidden by vegetation but you can enjoy a swim in the pool at the base of the second tier.
5. Licklog Falls, Oconee County
Licklog Falls are a series of cascades dropping down in two tiers.
If you continue on the trail beyond Pigpen Falls, you will reach the top of Licklog Falls very quickly.
The top tier is around 30 feet, with the water dropping into a basin; the second is larger, with the flow going directly into the Chattooga River.
You can get down to the base of the falls, although the descent is fairly steep.
Armed with a wide-angle lens, you should be able to capture the whole cascade in a single photograph.
6. Brasstown Falls, Sumter National Forest, Oconee County
These lovely Falls in Brasstown Valley comprise three cascades that drop a total of 120 feet.
When you are at the base, you can see all three cascades and capture them in a single photograph.
They each have a name – Cascades, Veil, and Sluice.
They are just a short distance from where you park your car, so you won’t be tired when you arrive.
You won’t need to cool off in the water, but it is so inviting on a hot day.
The setting is lovely and the colors of the waterfall make it even more impressive.
7. Spoonauger Falls, Sumter National Forest, Onocee County
These 50-foot falls close to the border with Georgia are just a 20-minute hike along a lovely trail with trees and shrubs.
Water drops down a rock face in a series of small steps to a pool where you can cool off on a hot day.
They are fairly powerful and certainly make for an impressive photograph.
Kids love the pool but have to be quick to catch the salamanders in the rocks because they are quick and slippery.
Talking of slippery, the rock steps are certainly that, so don’t attempt to enter the falls.
8. King Creek Falls, Sumter National Forest, Onocee County
If you are on a trip specifically to see waterfalls, King Creek Falls can be combined with Spoonauger Falls.
Located off the Chattooga River on the border with Georgia, they are higher at 70 feet.
The water pours down in stages through a wide gorge but not in the stepped fashion of Spoonauger.
You face a simple half-mile walk to reach the falls, where you can sit and enjoy the spray.
Basic camping facilities exist, the closest just five minutes away.
9. Issaqueena Falls, Sumter National Forest, Oconee County
The trail to reach the top of these falls involves only a simple 15-minute stroll.
Just a short distance away, there is a chance to get an excellent view of the whole setting.
One of the stories about how these falls got their name involves a young Indian maiden who jumped off the top in an attempt to escape.
She was fleeing people in the tribe that did not approve of her associating with a local silversmith.
The good news in that story is that she survived and continued on to Alabama with her husband.
10. Yellow Branch Falls, Walhalla
If there was such a thing as waterfall twins, Yellow Branch Falls and Issaqueena Falls would top the list.
Their dimensions are similar, approaching 50 feet in height and around 75 feet in width.
Yellow Branch is not the most accessible of falls and the hike is likely to take you a couple of hours.
You will cross the creek a couple of times en route and arrive at a tranquil setting.
You can stand and look directly at the falls, a great photo opportunity.
They are seasonal, with the flow likely to be limited in the summer.
11. Twin Falls, Pickens County
This is two for the price of one on Reedy Creek.
The creek splits into two, with the higher of the cascades measuring 75 feet as it falls off a huge slab of granite.
The second is not so high but still makes an impressive sight as it sends water at 45 degrees to the larger falls.
It is a very easy walk of mere minutes to reach the falls and the views are excellent.
You can get closer than the trail but, in fact, the views don’t get much better and the rocks are slippery – even dangerous.
If you want to cool off in the creek, it is best to do it elsewhere.
12. Laurel Fork Falls, Pickens County
You have to enjoy hiking to see these falls because you can expect to be walking for more than five hours along the Foothills Trail to reach them.
The trail involves several sets of wooden steps, both up and down.
You are talking overnight camping to see them this way.
The alternative is much more relaxing – see them from a boat on Jocasse Lake.
You will enjoy the crescent-shaped grotto and the water that falls 80 feet directly into the lake.
They are at their best after periods of heavy rain.
13. Falls Creek Falls, Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area
At 125 feet high, these falls are among the very best in South Carolina.
Access is not straightforward and you will have to make a real effort whichever trail you select.
The Falls Creek Trail is the shorter of the two, under a couple of miles long but with several steep portions and a 600 foot ascent in all.
Hospital Rock Trail is just over five miles of rugged hiking which ends up at the other side of the falls.
A number of flat rock ledges offer great views of the falls and the chance of memorable photographs.
14. Raven Cliff Falls, Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area
Raven Cliff Falls are stunning.
At 420 feet, they thoroughly deserve the hordes of people who come to see them.
The water descends from Raven Cliff Mountain and the testing trail that takes you there is worth the effort.
It may take you about 90 minutes to reach the overlook that has been erected across the gorge, but the thought of what lies ahead is motivation enough.
Overall, the trail is rated as moderate and, although not suitable for young children, there should be no problems for teenagers.
15. Rainbow Falls, Jones Gap State Park
If you visit Rainbow Falls in the spring, you will not only be treated to seeing water falling 100 feet from steep walls, but the wild azaleas are in full bloom.
A series of cascades are found below the main falls themselves.
There is a price to pay for this lovely setting on Cox Camp Creek.
Although the walk is little over a mile and a half, you will be climbing more than 1,000 feet.
The falls are not especially impressive during the dry weeks of summer, so pick your dates wisely.