Lake Hartwell Country is filled with natural wonders as far as the eye can see. But of all the sights you can behold, perhaps nothing compares to the powerful beauty of our many waterfalls.
Whether they’re fed by creeks, underground springs, or rivers, they all produce a majestic, mesmerizing spectacle. The magnetism of waterfalls is awe-inspiring. We’re drawn to gather and watch as countless cool gallons churn forward and cascade down primitive rock faces. The experience is equally calming and exhilarating. Gorgeous waterfalls are all around us in Oconee and Pickens Counties, and here are just a few that are worth every minute of your time.
Let’s start in Oconee County, which has the most falls in Lake Hartwell Country. Issaqueena Falls, named after an Indian maiden, is off Highway 28 north of Walhalla. This park is a great destination for families and people with limited mobility, and you can enjoy the impressive 100-foot falls from an observation deck. The sheer size of it is really something to see!
If you take Highway 11 north from Walhalla to Tamassee, you can access Lee Falls. A 1.5-mile trail will take you to this 75-foot wonder, known as Oconee’s most scenic waterfall. It’s surrounded with greenery and wildflowers during the spring and summer. You definitely want to bring a camera, and you also might want to pack an extra pair of dry shoes.
There’s a trio of waterfalls accessible from one parking area a few miles off Highway 76 near Long Creek. You can see the 70-foot stairstep drop of Andrew Ramey Falls just a short walk downhill from your car. The 40-foot Fall Creek Falls is a challenging 1.5 miles off the trailhead from the same parking lot, and Pristine Falls is less than a mile down a different rugged path. Be ready to break a sweat on the way to see your reward, but you’ll enjoy the views.
Also off Highway 76, near Mountain Rest, you’ll find Reedy Branch Falls. Follow the gravel path from the parking area about a quarter mile to see this picturesque, 40-foot wall of water surrounded by trees and forest plants. It’s an easy and fun trip for the whole family, and your dogs might enjoy it, too.
If you love outdoor photography, Spoonauger Falls should be on your “must-see” list. This 50-foot beauty is quite picturesque, with layers of rushing water. It’s accessible by a sometimes-tricky quarter-mile trail, so hike carefully. It’s off Highway 28 near Mountain Rest, by the Burrels Ford campground in the Sumter National Forest.
Now on to Pickens County, with still more beautiful waterfall destinations. Take Highway 178 north out of Pickens to F. Van Clayton Highway on the way up to Sassafras Mountain, and you’ll find the Beech Bottom Falls parking area on the roadside. It’s also known as Pinnacle Falls, since its water source stems from Pinnacle Mountain on the way to Sassafras. A moderately difficult but well maintained one-mile trail will take you over two bridges crossing Abner Creek to an observation deck overlooking this 50-foot forest treasure.
In the Todds creek area of the Clemson Experimental Forest, you’ll find the 50-foot winding cascade of Waldrop Stone Falls. The trailhead for this fairly easy half-mile hike is on Waldrop Stone Road north of Central, SC. A winding trail and a couple of well-constructed staircases will deliver you right to the base of the falls for a close-up nature encounter. Sit a while on a bench and take in the relaxing atmosphere.
What better way to wrap up a waterfall tour than a two-for one visual treat? Twin Falls, also known as Eastatoe Falls, is about 12 miles up Highway 178, north of Pickens. You’ll eventually turn onto Waterfalls Road, which becomes gravel as it takes you to an ample parking area. An easy quarter mile walk along Eastatoe Creek brings you to a huge slab of granite at the base of two tall waterfalls. There, you can see the dramatic 75-foot drop of the larger fall, while a second fall descends over a series of shorter drops. The sound of the roaring water is enchanting, and this is a great destination for visitors with children and dogs.
As you visit these amazing natural wonders, please bear in mind while waterfalls are beautiful, they can also be dangerous. You should always stay away from ledges that could be slippery, and it’s never a good idea to climb up the falls. With that in mind, choose some intriguing destinations and go experience the ever-flowing waterfalls of Lake Hartwell Country!
For more information, see a list of Lake Hartwell Country waterfalls with GPS coordinates under the Outdoors section of this website. You can learn even more about the outdoor adventures our state has to offer from Discover SC, the site of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, any time at DiscoverSouthCarolina.com. And be sure keep up with us on Facebook and Instagram. You can also stop by our visitor center in Pendleton!