South Carolina's Upcountry region in the northwestern part of the Palmetto State features numerous state parks with nearby waterfalls well worth visits. Hikes to waterfalls can range from quite easy to difficult, and several stunning waterfalls can be viewed by boat on sprawling Lake Jocassee. From east to west, here are 10 wonderful waterfalls found in or near South Carolina's state parks along the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11):
Located in Jones Gap State Park and one of the first Upcountry waterfalls found along SC 11 from the east, Rainbow Falls is the most popular waterfall accessed in the park. It's a 2.3-mile hike (one way and relatively strenuous) to the waterfall, but the reward is a 125-foot waterfall and frequent rainbow colors when the sun hits the cascading water.
Jones Gap Falls
Also located within Jones Gap State Park is the eponymous Jones Gap Falls, easily reached with a 1-mile, one-way moderate hike.
Wildcat Wayside Falls
Located in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area (the overarching name of the land area made up by Jones Gap and Caesars Head state parks), the lower and upper falls of Wildcat Wayside Falls are easily accessed from a parking area right on SC 11.
Raven Cliff Falls
Situated in Caesars Head State Park, Raven Cliff Falls is reached by a 2-mile moderate hike to a viewing platform that looks across a gorge to the falls. Named for the large number of ravens that live in the area, this 400-foot beauty is one of the Upcountry's most scenic and dramatic waterfalls.
Carrick Creek Falls
Located in Table Rock State Park, Carrick Creek Falls is easy to access and view from a viewing platform just steps from the Table Rock Trailhead. Visitors are welcome to walk beneath the 15-foot cascade or swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls.
Laurel Fork Falls
Reached by boat on Lake Jocassee from Devils Fork State Park or by an adventurous 8-mile hike on South Carolina's famed Foothills Trail, Laurel Fork Falls is one of several stunning waterfalls on the pristine Upcountry reservoir. Other waterfalls along the lake include Wrights Creek Falls, Lower Whitewater Falls, Mill Creek Falls and North Carolina's Thompson River Falls.
Part of Stumphouse Park near Oconee State Park, Issaqueena Falls is a 100-foot-high cascade with an easy-to-reach platform overlooking the falls. According to local legend, an Indian maiden named Issaqueena rode to a nearby fort to warn of a pending Indian attack. She escaped pursuing Indians by pretending to leap over the falls while actually hiding beneath them.
Chau Ram Falls
Situated in Chau Ram Park west of SC 11 on US 76, Chau Ram Falls features a 40-foot waterfall over huge boulders and is conveniently located next to the parking area. There are more waterfalls downriver accessible via 4 miles of well-maintained paths and trails along the Chauga River.