The other day I saw a Facebook post that said “I’ve lived in South Carolina for several years, and only recently learned that there are waterfalls here.” To be fair, if you live in the lowcountry that conclusion wouldn’t be that unreasonable. But if you think that best waterfalls in the southeast can only be found in our neighbor to the north, you might want to investigate the waterfalls in Oconee County.
That’s exactly what my wife and I did a couple of weeks ago. Candidly, we didn’t get great weather for photographing them but we enjoyed two beautiful days for hiking. (And we did sneak a photo or two.)
We began the morning with a pleasant walk to Sid’s Falls. The first portion of this mile and a half trail is a wide Forestry Service “road” with a slight downhill grade. It is an easy and pleasant walk.
Eventually, the trail narrows into the woods, where it is easily followed to the descent that leads to the falls. At this point, the trail becomes difficult. The descent is steep and you will have to use the trees, roots and (perhaps) the seat of your pants to make it down. Remember, this is also the only way out. So know your limitations and proceed at your own risk.
The sight that rewarded us was worth the effort. Sid’s Falls is a 55 foot tumble of water over multiple levels of rock. It lands on a series of continued layers of stone until it finally ceases in one small, final drop back into the creek. Here are a couple of perspectives from that morning. Click to enlarge the images.
Yes. I got my feet wet. Particulalary for the first image. There are few places to stand without getting wet. So use caution if you decide to wander down. Remember, that algae that forms on those rocks is almost always very slippery!
Perhaps the easiest of the Oconee County waterfalls to see is Issaqueena Falls, just north of Walhalla. In fact, the falls are located in a Wahalla City Park. You’ll pay $5 to enter, but then once you park, the waterfall is only a few hundred yards away, down a well kept trail that ends at a nice wooden overlook.
That’s not a bad view, but it wasn’t the one I wanted. So I worked my way down the “trail” to the water. Again, this is not a trail for the inexperienced, those that struggle with balance, or those not wearing proper footwear. The view from the overlook is excellent, and most of the people we saw that day enjoyed the falls from that vantage point.
I carefully made my way down and had the falls to myself for a bit, before my wife texted me from that overlook to tell me that I would soon be joined by a group of photographers. It was probably 15 minutes or so before they appeared, so you have some idea of the relative difficulty they had in working their way down the trail.
From the base of the 100-foot falls there are a number of possible photographic perspectives. My first choice yielded my favorite image of the day.
I liked the twin outlets, mirroring one another around the large rocks where I was standing. The water continued to fall behind me, but had I moved downstream I wouldn’t have had the same view of the main waterfall.
Other Oconee County Waterfalls
We also made our way to Yellow Branch Falls and Brasstown Falls during our visit. Brasstown certainly needs more exploration! And I want to return to Yellow Branch when the sun is not so harsh on the face of the falls.
For a South Carolina landscape photographer, Oconee County offers a number of treasures just waiting to be enjoyed! Stay tuned. Hopefully, I’ll be able to return soon.
When I do, do you have suggestions for places that I shouldn’t miss? Let me know in the comments below.