10 Fun Adventures in the Jocassee Gorges

By:Marie McAden

Date:2/26/2016

It’s wild, remote and rugged. But you don’t have to be a trailblazer to experience the beauty of Jocassee Gorges, an unspoiled wilderness hailed by National Geographic explorers as a “destination of a lifetime.”

Within the 50,000 acres of protected forestland are two state parks, an extensive network of hiking trails, 35 seasonally open roads and observation platforms offering fantastic views of the gorges and its many natural amenities.

Before you set out for the backcountry, stop at the Jocassee Gorges Visitor Center at Keowee-Toxaway State Park to get an overview of the terrain and learn more about the area.

Here are 10 things to do in the Jocassee Gorges:

1. Take a driving tour of the Jocassee Gorges. Pick up a map and driving tour guide at the visitor center. It will take you to more than a dozen points of interest in the Jocassee Gorges and surrounding area.

2. Enjoy the view from the highest point in the state. From the 3,553-foot summit on Sassafras Mountain, you can see four states—North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. An overlook just below the high point is accessible by car. A short pathway from the parking lot leads to the top of the mountain where a viewing platform will be built in 2016.

3. Kayak in Lake Jocassee. Surrounded by densely forested mountains with little development to spoil the view, Lake Jocassee is a paddler’s paradise. The only public put-in is at Devils Fork State Park. If you don’t have your own boat, you can rent one from one of the local outfitters. Jocassee Outdoor Center also offers guided kayak tours and boat shuttles to the upper reaches of the lake where you can view a number of waterfalls.

4. Walk the Oconee Bells Nature Trail. This flat, one-mile loop, located in Devils Fork State Park, offers the easiest access to view colonies of the rare wildflower when it’s in bloom mid-March to early April. Look for the white bell-shaped flowers along the creek as you walk through the hardwood forest.

5. Drive up to Jumping Off Rock. It’s a bumpy 10-mile ride up the mountain, but you won’t be disappointed with the view, billed as the best vista in the Jocassee Gorges. From the rocky cliff, you’ll have an unobstructed view of Lake Jocassee and the surrounding mountains. In the spring, look out for Peregrine falcons who have been nesting in the area for years.

6. Hike to Lower Whitewater Falls. The moderate two-mile hike to the overlook is well worth the effort to watch the Whitewater River drop 400 feet across a rock face. The trailhead to the cascading spectacle is located at Duke Energy’s Bad Creek Hydroelectric Station.

7. Take a waterfall tour on Lake Jocassee. More than a half-dozen waterfalls can be found along the 75 miles of shoreline of this scenic mountain lake. The best way to view them is by boat. Several local outfitters offer tours of the falls, including the stunning Laurel Fork Falls. If the water level is high enough, they’ll even take you into the grotto behind the rocky tower to get a different perspective of the 80-foot cascade.

8. Go trout fishing on the Eastatoe River. Flowing through a secluded mountain gorge, the cold, clear Eastatoe River has the kind of habitat preferred by wild rainbow trout. For details on the best locations to cast your line in the Eastatoe and other Jocassee Gorges streams, download the South Carolina Trout Fishing Guide.

9. Visit Twin Falls. It’s an easy 15-minute walk along the picturesque Reedy Cove Creek to this side-by-side scenic wonder. One cascade plunges 75 feet over a massive granite slab. The other thunders down chunks of rock before joining back with its twin. Bring your camera for this one!

10. Go on a day hike in the Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve. A 1.7-mile trail takes you deep into this mountain gorge, home to old growth hemlock, three rare ferns and a creek filled with naturally reproducing rainbow trout. The left fork of the trail takes you to the river; the right to a platform overlooking The Narrows.

Related Content

Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve Lives Up to National Geographic Distinction
The Eastatoe Cr​eek Heritage Preserve is a beautiful hike through the Jocassee Gorges of South Carolina. Serene scenes and flowing streams are only a few of the sites you'll discover from the trail.
Jocassee Gorges Featured in National Geographic
Jocassee Gorges is a nature lover’s wonderland. Along with a diversity of wildlife, the area boasts more than 60 species of rare and endangered plants. National Geographic chose it as a must-see site spot, and it’s not hard to see why.
Jocassee Gorges Is A "Destination of a Lifetime" Teeming with Scenic Waterfalls, Crystal Clear Streams and Lush Mountain Forests
A stunning wilderness along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, Jocassee Gorges has been designated one of the world’s “Last Great Places” by National Geographic.
Explore South Carolina’s Aquatic Wildlife
If you’re looking for exciting, kid-friendly activities at the beach, spend some quality time catching South Carolina aquatic wildlife with the whole family.
4 Ways to Stay at Devils Fork State Park
From campsites to villas to places to park an RV, you’re sure to find a place to rest your head that will accommodate both your lifestyle and your budget.

Featured Products

Oconee State Park
Mountains

Mountain Rest

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
Oconee State Park offers the joys of a mountain retreat without the work. . The historic park rests deep in the Blue Ridge foothills, with several pictures ...
Lake Jocassee
Mountains

Salem

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
Lake Jocassee is a 7,565 acre man-made lake in the South Carolina mountains. Formed by the Whitewater, Thompson, and Toxaway Rivers, it is known for its mostly undevelop ...
Devils Fork State Park
Mountains

Salem

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
Check Lake Levels Spot a loon or a rambling black bear. Fish for trout in a deep, clear mountain lake. Hike through the glorious spring bloom of rhododendrons. ...

Featured products and attractions in "10 Fun Adventures in the Jocassee Gorges "

Nearby Attractions

  • {{item.name}}

You might also like:

Issaqueena Falls/Stumphouse Tunnel
Mountains

Walhalla

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
A short easy walking trail leads from Stumphouse Mountain Park to Issaqueena Falls, a beautiful 200-ft. cascade. Legend has it that the Indian maiden, Issaqueena, rode to ...
Woods Ferry Recreation Area (Sumter National Forest)
Midlands

Whitmire

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Woods Ferry Picnic Area and Boat Ramp Open year round.Picnic area has two picnic shelters and individual picnic tables and grills. Four fishing platforms for bank fishing ...
Table Rock Resort
Mountains

Pickens

Mountains

Mountains

The
Mountains Region

Learn More
Modoc Campground (Corps of Engineers)
Midlands

Modoc

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
70 sites with water and electric hookups; 4 shower houses; boat ramp; open April 1 - September 30. ...
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Coast

Kiawah Island

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
A short 21 miles from Charleston with 10 miles of beach; accommodations include private villas, houses and the resort's oceanfront, five-diamond hotel, The Sanctuary. Th ...
The Campground & Cottages At James Island County Park
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
James Island County Park is a 643-acre park offering a variety of recreational opportunities from tidal creek fishing to trails for walking, biking and skating, a seasona ...