Twin Falls and Fall Foliage Pt 6

Whitewater Falls and Fall Foliage Pt 5

On the way back toward Table Rock we diverted to an out-of-the-way falls called Twin Falls.  It gets this name because Reedy Cove Creek splits at the top of a rock wall and cascades down it in two distinct places.  I didn’t find conclusive information on how tall it is but I’d agree with one source that mentions it being about 75’.  It is a beautiful location and feels a little bit like a secret.  I’m guessing it sees about as much traffic as the little piece of property can take as there is an observation platform at the end of the trail that looks like it is there to prevent erosion.  Unfortunately, it is not in the ideal viewing location.  If they had just moved it about 100’ further into the area you would have a great view of the falls.  The graffiti and wear bare this out as you can see where people must regularly hop the rail and walk out into the rock piles at the base of the falls.  By no means is view bad though.  Melanie and I both liked this falls very much and recommend seeing it.

To get there, head W on US-178 off  South Carolina 11.  Stay on US-178 for about 7.5 miles.  Take a left on Cleo Chapman Rd (SC 100) at Bob’s Place (biker bar).  Bob’s is practically on top of the road.  Across the street you’ll see some outdoor seating and The Road Kill Grill.  Stay on Cleo Chapman for 1.9 miles.  Take a right on Estatoe Community Road and stay on this road for 0.9 miles.  Turn right on the very narrow one-lane Water Falls Rd.  Stay on this road for 0.3 miles past the private property up to the gate at the parking area.  While the first part of this road cuts through an open field the last part is through a narrow channel.  Slow driving is recommended as there is no room to pass in that section.

Outdoor Seating for Bob’s Place. Just Outside the Frame is the Road Kill Grill. I wish we would have had a Better Picture of it.
Turn on Water Falls Rd
Water Falls Rd get Quite Narrow
Twin Falls Parking
Twin Falls Trail Head (Just Past Gate)
Creek runs Beside Trail
Twin Falls from Observation Deck

The trail runs right beside the creek and is an easy short walk (15 min?).  Along the way you will pass a small swimming hole and end at a covered observation platform very near the base of the falls.

Although we didn’t see many colored leaves on our fall foliage trip, we had a blast camping, hiking and getting to see a bunch of waterfalls.  Check out the area where South Carolina and North Carolina meet in the mountains if you are looking for some gorgeous scenery.

Happy Trails!


Whitewater Falls and Fall Foliage Pt 5

Wildcat Falls, Pumpkin Town, Aunt Sue’s and Fall Foliage Pt 4

The next day after we broke down camp we decided to squeeze in two more drive-up falls before we hit the road.  The first was Whitewater Falls which was only about 40 minutes west of Table Rock.  This is the big daddy of the area.  In total it is over 800’ tall and crosses the state line between North Carolina and South Carolina.  The North Carolina part is 411’ tall making it the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.  The part in South Carolina drops another 400’.  Sadly, just like Raven Cliff Falls, you cannot get very close to the falls so the effect is diminished.

Turn in to Park Here
Melanie Explaining with Grand Visuals That her legs were sore from the Steep Climbs the day Before
Melanie Thought it was Hilarious to Capture a Detailed Photo Journal of me Paying the Park Useage Fee

From the parking lot you walk along a basically flat paved trail for about half or one mile to the upper overlook.  From there you can go down a flight of steps to the lower overlook which offers a better view.

Hiking Doesn’t get much Easier
Upper Overlook
Stairs to Lower Observation Platform
Lower (Better) Observation Platform
Sign at Lower Observation Platform Kindly Informs you that Further Hiking will not Provide a Better View
White Water Falls
View of a Nearby Lake from the Trail

Twin Falls and Fall Foliage Pt 6

Wildcat Falls, Pumpkin Town, Aunt Sue’s and Fall Foliage Pt 4

Rainbow Falls, Pretty Place and Fall Foliage Pt 3

Next we headed back through the park and down the mountain.  There were two more falls we could see in this park but the shadows were beginning to get pretty long and our limbs were pretty tired.  We did a drive-by of a little tiny waterfall called Wildcat Falls.  We had been warned that it probably wasn’t flowing very well.  It wasn’t flowing at all and worse, there really wasn’t any good place to park beside the highway in our little Honda Civic (drop offs on the road shoulders).  Falls Creek Falls was next on the list and it got lopped off.  It was going to be a moderate-length steep hike and we just didn’t feel like it.

So we headed back toward Table Rock keeping an eye out for places to eat.  We had to stop at the little shopping area with the giant rocking chair out front.  The only thing open was the country gadgets and antiques store.  The white-haired lady inside was friendly enough and welcomed us to Pumpkin Town Mountain.

“Where do you recommend we eat around here?”

“Did you see the gas station down the street?”


“Folks eat there.  And at Ain’t Sue’s.”

“Where would you go if it was you?”

“Oh, I don’t know.  I don’t eat out much.  I think I like Pumpkin Town Café.”

“That’s a shame.  I can see that it is closed tonight,” I said gesturing to the restaurant next door.

“Oh no.  Not Pumpkin Town Mountain.  I’m talkin’ about Pumpkin Town.”

“What’s the difference.”

“You know Pumpkin Town.”

“If it isn’t here, I’m afraid I don’t.”

“This here is Pumpkin Town Mountain.  You gotta go to the gas station and turn right.  From there you drive all the way into town.  Pumpkin Town is the name of that town.  You’ll see the café.”

“What do they serve?”

“Everything.  All kinds of food.”

So how could we pass that up?  Even though we ate lunch, with all of our hiking I was ready for a giant plate of everything.  Carefully following our guide’s instructions we quickly (within 2 miles) came upon the booming intersection of Pumpkin Town and there was the café.  Inside we found a short order dinner with a menu listing hamburgers and hotdogs.  When we asked about any other items (I was hoping for BBQ) we were told that was it – and they were out of hamburgers for the day.

There’s a Town Where I Know Everything is Pumpkin-y…

Back in the car, we decided the next place to check was Aunt Sue’s.  We passed it on the way to Caesar’s Head that morning and it looked like a tourist trap, but we were in for a nice surprise.  As we drove by, we saw that the parking lot was full.  We took that to be a good enough sign, went back to camp, showered and came back for a nice sit-down meal.

Aunt Sue’s was delightful.  It was basically like a one-off Cracker Barrel that consisted of a series of “houses.”  It started with the Ice Cream House and when that became a success Aunt Sue expanded to a tourist trinket house, some other house, a restaurant house and, after she passed away, her successor added the Golf House.  I got chicken fried steak and was a very happy man.  For dessert I had cherry cobbler, which made Melanie happy since she got “just a taste” of it.

Aunt Sue’s Sign from the Parking Lot
Three of the Six or More “Houses” That Make up Aunt Sue’s
The Main Dining Room

Whitewater Falls and Fall Foliage Pt 5

Rainbow Falls, Pretty Place and Fall Foliage Pt 3

Raven Cliff Falls and Fall Foliage Pt 2

Next up was Rainbow Falls.  I am so glad that I did a little checking online before we went on this trip.  You see there are two ways to get to this falls.  The first is a long relatively flat trail that ends with a steep climb up to the falls.  The second is a much shorter decent from above the falls.  It is equally, if not more, steep but it is quite short.  I’ll let you guess which one we picked.

Yellow then red shows the Standard way to the Falls. The Magenta I drew in Shows our Route.

Taking the short trail Rainbow Falls requires some advance planning.  It is outside the park, there aren’t good maps for it and it is unmarked.  Because it is on private property, it requires permission to hike on it.  You can contact the YMCA’s Camp Greenville at 864-836-3291 to find out what they want you to do.

To get there we left the Raven Cliff Falls parking area and continued north on 276.  Almost immediately after leaving the park and very close to the North Carolina/South Carolina border, we turned right on Solomon Jones Rd (also called CR 15 and YMCA Camp Rd).  There is a Camp Greenville sign at this location.  Continue down the road to the east for 4.6 miles to the small unmarked gravel parking area on your right.  The trailhead is back down the road the way you came just a few feet.

YMCA Camp Greenville Sign
Rainbow Springs Trailhead

The trail itself is easy to find and follow but it is obviously less used.  Even in the middle of the day we were running into cobwebs and scaring small critters off the trail.  As I mentioned before it is quite steep almost the entire way but there are numerous hand holds, roots and ropes so it is quite manageable.  As long as you are comfortable lifting your legs up to your waist you will do fine.  As mentioned before, it is a short hike too.  I’d estimate about 20 minutes going down and 30 minutes coming back up.  I’ve read that it is about half a mile long, but it’s really hard to tell with all the switchbacks.  There really is nothing to see along the trail itself.  Just a bunch of dense woods.

A Rare Break in the Trees Along the Trail
Typical Switchbacks. Hard to see but there are three in this Photo.
Rope Line to Assist.
Turn Around and There’s Another Rope Line

We almost didn’t do this hike in favor of more famous/popular falls, and that would have been a tragedy.  Melanie and I quickly agreed that this was our favorite falls of the entire trip.  It is so neat!  Even though it’s only about 100’ tall (1/4 the height of Raven Cliff) you can get right up on it and that makes all the difference.  As you near the falls you turn a corner and suddenly you hear it.  You walk a little further into a stone amphitheatre and right in the middle is a tightly packed shaft of water that seems to punch a hole through the canopy of trees above and splashes down on the rocks below.  I really wish that I had a nice camera again so I could have better captured the feel of this place.  The pictures I took don’t even come close.

Rainbow Falls. People Eating Lunch for Scale.
Another Failed Attempt to Capture the Feel of this Falls. Did I mention it was my Favorite of the Trip?

After climbing our way back up the side of the mountain, on a lark, we continued down the road to an overlook called Pretty Place.  Magnificent!  The view was about as good as any I’ve seen in the Smokies and the chapel that surrounds it is quite nice too.  Melanie and I agreed that if we weren’t already married, this would be high on the list.  It was surprisingly large.  Normally when we visit places like this they seat 10-50 people.  I’d bet this facility would seat 100 and it had a couple of bathrooms.  Not exactly the Four Seasons but good enough that I made a point of finding the camp staff before we left and inquiring about cabin rentals for a future men’s retreat.

Pretty Place Chapel

We Guessed Seating for 100.
Pretty Place Chapel View

Wildcat Falls, Pumpkin Town, Aunt Sue’s and Fall Foliage Pt 4

Raven Cliff Falls and Fall Foliage Pt 2

Table Rock State Park, Waterfalls and Fall Foliage Pt 1

Day two of the trip was going to be the workhorse.  This was our only full day to hike and we wanted to pack in as many falls as possible.  First up was Raven Cliff Falls.  This is the postcard waterfall for the park – actually for the entire area – so we didn’t want to chance missing it.  It also was going to be by far the longest hike with a minimum of two miles to get to the observation platform or four miles get to the suspension bridge.  We opted to do both and I’d estimate the total round trip mileage to be eight to nine miles.  Sadly, I’ve waited too long to write this down and I can’t remember the total hiking time.  The trail was only moderately difficult.  Most of the time it was pretty flat without any really spectacular views.  Just a nice walk in the woods.  It helped that we visited in the middle of the week I’m sure.  I’d imagine with its popularity, this one could get unpleasantly busy on the weekends.

Caesar’s Head State Park Ranger’s Station
“P” Shows Where we Parked. Red is Raven Cliff Falls Trail. Blue-Grey is Foothills Trail. Pink is Naturaland Trust Trail.

Strangely enough, as popular as these falls are, the trailhead is pretty poorly marked.  The parking lot is easy to find.  You then cross the street to find a big map listing a bunch of trails.  It does not identify this as the Raven Cliff Falls Trail.  You then walk a few paces down a well-maintained path and see a sign for the Foothills Trail (had I bothered to check my map from home more carefully I’d have seen that the Foothills and the RCF trails merge at this point).  It lists several destinations, but not RCF.  You then walk further down the trail and finally you see the sign you’ve been looking for.  We were not the only ones confused by this.  We met a conductor for the local symphony wandering around on the road looking for the trail head.  We even met folks as we were leaving that had been hiking down the trail for a while that weren’t sure they were on the right one.  Now you, dear reader, know what to look for and you can be the expert when you visit the falls.

Map at Trailhead
Every State Park Had a $2 per Person Fee
Sign at Raven Cliff Falls Trailhead
Further Down the Trail and we Know we are on the Right Path

After awhile you reach the fairly new observation platform.  I had read a report from one of the locals lamenting the replacement of the old platform.  He claimed that this new platform was in a completely different location and the view was ruined.  I had to agree once I saw the falls.  They were spectacular.  A really great shape in a nice setting but they were so tiny!  How can a 400’ falls look so small?  You can see that they are distant in the attached picture and this is zoomed in as far as my little point and shoot camera would go.  We were not even at the best viewing angle.  It was obvious that the promotional images of this falls were not shot from this location.  I cannot understand why this change was made.  It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Typical View from the First Part of the Trail
First Color Leaves of the Season
Hey! Watch Where You’re Going and Duck
The Trail Runs Flat for a While
Approaching the New Overlook
Sign at Overlook
Raven Cliff Falls Waaaay off in the Distance 😦
We passed a guy on the way back who was all excited that this purple flower was in bloom.

We had planned to hike to the suspension bridge before but this less-than-stellar overlook sealed the deal.  We backtracked to the Foothills Trail split and continued on to the Natureland Trust Trail which took us to the suspension bridge.  This was pretty cool.  It was nice and shaky like a suspension bridge is supposed to be.  The view from here is good and unique, but because of the way these falls are made up, you can only see the upper drop from here.  A worthwhile side trip but it isn’t wide-eyed greatness.  We stopped and ate lunch on the bridge with the sounds of the water rushing under us.

Jeeps must be used on the Foothills Trail
More Color on the Trees
They got Really Tall Too!
Turn off the Foothills Trail here to get to the Suspension Bridge
First Water – Getting Close
Some Elevation Change (Nice Diamond Tread Too)
One of Many Large Bushes the Trail Passes Through – Too Bad it wasn’t in Bloom
Suspension Bridge over Raven Cliff Falls
Mo’ Bridge
View of Falls from Bridge.  The big drop cannot be seen from here.
View of Valley from Bridge

Just for fun we decided to follow the trail across the bridge to see if it ever popped out of the underbrush really close to the falls.  It was obvious almost from the second we crossed the bridge that this is not a popular option as the trail becomes much wilder right away.  It is also incredibly steep.  At one point I found a small side spur marked with double blue blazes that I wanted to follow.  It was so steep here that we didn’t think Melanie could lower or lift herself over some of the sheer drops so I decided to check it out myself.  I was reminded of the description of the secret trail to Elrond’s Last Homely House.  I dropped down the trail to an open area roped off with a steel cable fence.  Sadly, it was at a bend in the mountain and the falls were around the corner from me.  I guess we were not going to get a better view of this falls.  I’m really glad Melanie didn’t climb down with me.  I was just barely tall enough to pull myself back up to the main trail.

The trail gets very steep almost Immediately
“Trail” is almost straight up. Look Closely. That’s Melanie way up There.

After that, it was a simple backtrack to the trail head.  We passed a lot more people on the way back and were thankful that we had started so early that morning.

More nice color on the way Back

Rainbow Falls, Pretty Place and Fall Foliage Pt 3

Table Rock State Park, Waterfalls and Fall Foliage Pt 1

For my birthday this year Melanie and I wanted to do something more special.  I was tasked with coming up with a plan even better than dinner out and a cupcake with a candle.  We settled on two short trips.  One would be to Islands of Adventure down in Orlando (the best theme park we’ve ever been to) because they’ve opened a new Harry Potter section.  The second would be to Huntsville to see the science and Star Wars display at the Rocket Center.

I’m not always the quickest, but sometime later I realized that we would have several additional days free in Melanie’s work schedule as a result of all this travel.  We couldn’t just waste that precious time.  It occurred to me that the weather should be getting nice for hiking and we might just catch some leaves changing color.

The very best fall leaves we’ve ever seen was on a trip to South Carolina’s high point several years ago.  The rainfall that year, the temperature change and the clear sunny day all worked together to make something almost painfully beautiful.  I think of Bob Ross paintings as super saturated but I don’t think even he could have captured the brilliant colors we saw.  As we would ride up the steep slopes of the foothills we’d see electric blue skies and then be suddenly plunged into windshield-filling riots of oranges, yellows and reds as we crested then descended.  Literally windshield filling.  Road.  Some tree trunks.  LOTS of leaves.  It could be so overwhelming that your brain couldn’t process what you were looking at immediately.  I guess it was more than a little bit like camouflage.  The normal shapes of things were broken up flattening the landscape into one mash of color.  Like a roller coaster ride, it did take my breath away more than once.

Jump forward to mid October of this year and Melanie and I are hoping for a repeat performance.  Heck, even a quiet echo of that previous trip would be great.  A quick internet search for fall foliage cross referenced to Google Maps showed that our quickest, easiest best bet was South Carolina again.  The online guides recommended Caesar’s Head State Park as a great place to see leaves, and what’s this, they have waterfalls too!  Bright idea #2.  Even if we don’t see cool leaves we can see some cool waterfalls.  Our trip to Virgin Falls last year taught me that some of the falls in this general area are flowing nicely at this time of year.  We couldn’t lose now.

Unfortunately, Casear’s Head doesn’t have any drive-up camping.  I knew that we were going to want to camp to save money.  I also knew that we were not going to want to backpack and if at all possible we were going to want a hot shower.  I know, I’m a baby.

Technology is creeping in to the various park systems.  In SC you can now not only check out the different services offered but actually view a map of every individual campsite with details about it including if it is reserved and for which days.  This made it easy to find a state park close by that met our needs.

We chose Table Rock State Park and it was great.  It is a very well-maintained park.  Nice and clean.  It’s a great setting with a small lake and a big ol’ rock outcropping (Table Rock).  They have hike-in camping (some on the lake looked really nice), drive-up camping, RV stations and cabins (which we didn’t see).  We stayed in the area designated “Loop B” for $45.73 for two nights.  It was set up with both primitive and RV spots.  It had a few bathhouses sprinkled throughout the area.  They had been remodeled sometime very recently with fresh paint and new tile.  There was no mold or stink.  Everything was very clean.  The showers bordered on too hot. Plenty of bear-proof trash cans in the camping area.  Nice and shady.  Overall, I’d say it is as nice as any other stop n’ drop campsite I’ve ever used.

Please note:  When reserving the individual sites you will be presented with slope information for some locations.  If it says that it isn’t flat, that is something to consider.  None are sheer cliff faces but if you are in a tent instead of a self-leveling RV, it is something to keep in mind if you don’t want all your blood rushing to your head or feet while you sleep.

First View of Some Mountains
Our Table Rock Campsite

I wish I could tell you more about this park because it seems like a nice place to explore.  There were many folks there just hanging out watching football and enjoying the setting.  We were on a mission to see waterfalls though and this park just didn’t deliver in that area.

Raven Cliff Falls and Fall Foliage Pt 2