If you’ll be staying in Clemson during winter break, you might be looking for something to do. The Blue Ridge Mountains beckon. Hike down to the world-famous Chattooga River; seek out one of the dozens of waterfalls in the river corridor; or just enjoy the spectacular views that are available once the leaves are off the trees. Here are a few ideas for easy-to-strenuous day hikes.
King Creek Falls: Fairly Easy
The Upstate of South Carolina has more waterfalls than anywhere else in the nation, and King Creek Falls is one of the most stunning. Even better, it’s not difficult to get there. Take Highway 107 North about eleven miles from Walhalla; look for Burrells Ford Road in Mountain Rest and drive approximately four miles until you reach a trailhead located on the left. As you turn into the parking lot, look on the left for a signpost and a trail. Follow the gently descending trail to the creek, which leads to the base of the falls.
Bull Sluice Overlook: Easy
If you want to experience one of the nation’s seven Wild and Scenic Rivers, take Highway 123 through Westminster and turn right onto Highway 76. After approximately 45 minutes, you will see a turn-off on the right that leads to a parking lot. Take the paved walkway to a dirt path on the right and follow it until it ends at an overlook. There, you can watch kayakers run
The Foothills Trail: Strenuous
The Foothills Trail covers 74 miles, many of which run through Jocassee Gorges, recently named one of the 50 Best Last Places by National Geographic’s Traveler Magazine. You can choose from many trailheads, but one of the more scenic is the access trail out of Oconee State Park. Take Highway 107 approximately 10 miles out of Walhalla, look for the park sign on the right and ask for directions to the trail at the kiosk.
Lower Whitewater Falls: Moderate
Lower Whitewater Falls is accessible from Bad Creek Road. Take Highway 130 about 10 miles after it crosses Highway 11, look for Bad Creek Road on the right, drive down about a mile and then turn left into the parking lot. The trail meanders through a hardwood grove and over Whitewater Creek. If you’re feeling energetic, walk upstream for about four miles to reach the foot of the falls, the highest east of the Rockies.
Before you venture out, though, be sure you let someone know where you’re going and an approximate time of return. Keep in mind that cell phone reception is unreliable in the mountains, particularly in the gorges. Dress in layers, as it is cooler in the higher elevations, and be advised that darkness falls faster as the sun sinks behind the mountains. Always stay on the trail, do not climb on rocks surrounding waterfalls and take a small first aid kit. Enjoy!