Opossum Creek Falls Is One of Several Stunning Cascades near the Chattooga River

By:Marie McAden

Date:7/14/2017

Deep in Sumter National Forest near the final rapids of the Chattooga River is one of the Upstate’s most underrated waterfalls.

Opossum Creek Falls doesn’t get the notoriety – or the visitors – of the more popular Issaqueena, King Creek, Spoonauger, Yellow Branch or Whitewater falls. But it’s not because it’s any less breathtaking.

Cascading through the woods over a series of ledges, Opossum Creek makes a dramatic 50-foot drop, spilling like a mantilla across a craggy granite rock face. It continues to careen through jumbles of rocks and downed logs before disappearing once again into the forest on its way to its final destination in the Chattooga.

Unlike the more accessible waterfalls in the area, Opossum Creek Falls is located in the remote, westernmost corner of Oconee County. Just to get to the trailhead takes a little doing.

The first 13 miles on US 76 from Westminster are easy. At that point, you’ll begin making a series of turns onto backcountry roads, finishing on the gravel Turkey Ridge Road. The well-marked trailhead is just before a pull-off where you can park.

Shaded by an assortment of hardwoods, it’s a pleasant, mostly flat hike for about a mile. The trail becomes steeper as it descends into the gorge, but it’s nothing even a novice hiker couldn’t handle.

When you get to the river, the trail takes a turn to the left over some rocks and logs before heading back up the mountain to the waterfall. The forest service directions make it sound as if the last half-mile is heavily vegetated and difficult to navigate. But it has been cleared in recent years and is now easy to follow and no more than moderately difficult.

On your way up or back from the falls, take a few extra minutes and explore the riverbank. Designated a national wild and scenic river, the Chattooga itself is worth the modest hike. In this final quarter mile of Section IV of the river, it’s not unusual to see rafters and kayakers excitedly paddling the last bit of whitewater.

Just below the final two rapids, the Chattooga empties into Lake Tugaloo. Surrounded by Sumter and Chattahoochee National Forests, this picturesque mountain lake is worth a visit while you’re in the area. Wildwater in nearby Long Creek offers guided kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding trips on the lake or you can take in the panorama from a boat landing on Bull Sluice Road.

Find directions to the Opossum Creek Falls trailhead here.

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