It’s been 4 years since The Grandfather Mountaineers first enjoyed the plethora of cascades and falls along Fall Creek. And things have changed.
Although there is no maintained trail, there is a path that is much easier to follow than before. While it is more distinct and now marked with surveyor’s tape, you can still lose it now and again. Contributing to the trail confusion is the increased downfall along the way. Most of it is smaller trees but there are some large ones down and it should be expected that, sooner or later, the large hemlocks killed by the wooly aldegid will come down.
To get to the trailhead, take US 76 out of Westminster, SC past Long Creek for about 2 miles to Chattooga Ridge Road. Turn right and follow the road 2 more miles to Fall Creek Road on the left, also marked as FS 722. In 0.3 miles turn left onto Fall Creek Road Extension and follow the road about a half mile until it crosses Fall Creek. There is an informal parking spot on the left side of the road big enough for maybe 2 vehicles.
At the downhill side of the parking area, you’ll see the trail. You will be immediately be presented with Upper Fall Creek Falls on your left. After you scramble down to the stream for a good look, return back up to the trail, do not stay at creek level. There is only about 20 feet separating the bottom of the Upper falls and the brink of Middle Fall Creek Falls. Again, after your scramble down to the base of the falls, return up the ridge to the trail.
Basically, the trail follows Fall Creek for about the next 1.5 miles to the Chattooga River. Although there may be crossing points, stay on the right side of the creek. After about a quarter mile of hiking along the side of a ridge, the trail will drop down to the valley floor. At about 3/4s of a mile, the trail will pull away from the creek and take you by the remains of a one room cabin. You will see the chimney and what appears to be the front step.
Once back at the creek, the trail continues until about the 1 ¼ mile point where it gets “pinched” between 2 ridges. At this point, you’ll be at the brink of Lower Fall Creek Falls, the prettiest of the cascades on Fall Creek.
From the base of the falls, you’ll see a trail to the left climbing back up to the main trail. It is only about 200 yards on down to the Chattooga but there is no more marking surveyor’s tape.
As you approach the river, you’ll find another waterfall as Fall Creek empties into the river but to see it, you have to follow the trail all the way to the river then cross back in front of a large boulder that sits right beside the falls. Once around that, you can see the various tiers including the final one that drops the creek directly into the river. To get a full view of this final waterfall, which we’ll call #4, you would need to be in the river or on the opposite shore.
In this 1.5 miles, there are the 4 noted waterfalls but be aware there are a number of other cascades and runs that are significant enough, in other locations, to have their own names and be documented in guides.
Also know that the trail is also used by geocachers so, if you’re into geocaching, be sure and check the web sites for coordinates of caches along the creek.