10 Wonderful Waterfalls in or near South Carolina’s Upcountry State Parks

By:Lynn and Cele Seldon


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):

Rainbow Falls: 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 in the park, eponymous Jones Gap Falls is easily reached with a one-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 and reached by a two-mile moderate hike to a viewing platform that looks across a gorge to the falls, this is one of the Upcountry’s most scenic and dramatic waterfalls, with a 400-foot drop that’s named for the large number of ravens that live in the area.

Carrick Creek Falls: Located in Table Rock State Park and easy to access and view from a viewing platform, Carrick Creek Falls is a 15-foot waterfall that cascades into an inviting pool that people are encouraged to swim in, as well as walk under the falls.

Laurel Fork Falls: Reached by boat on Lake Jocassee from Devils Fork State Park or by an adventurous eight-mile hike on South Carolina’s famed Foothills Trail, Laurel Fork Falls is one of several stunning waterfalls on Lake Jocassee. Other waterfalls along the lake include Wrights Creek Falls, Lower Whitewater Falls, Mill Creek Falls and North Carolina’s Thompson River Falls.

Hidden Falls: Situated within Sumter National Forest, this 50-foot falls over granite ledges can be reached on the Foothills Trail with about an hour of moderate hiking from the trailhead at Oconee State Park.

Station Cove Falls: Situated within historic Oconee Station State Park, Station Cove Falls is within a 30-minute moderate hike and features a 60-foot waterfall.

Issaqueena Falls: Part of Stumphouse Tunnel Park near Oconee State Park, the easily reached Issaqueena Falls is a 100-foot-high cascade waterfall. A longtime local legend says that an Indian maiden, Issaqueena, rode to a nearby fort to warn of a pending Indian attack and then escaped pursuing Indians by pretending to leap over the falls—when actually hiding beneath them.

Chau Ram Falls: Situated within Chau Ram County Park west of SC 11 on US 76, Chau Ram Falls features a 40-foot waterfall over huge boulders and is conveniently located right next to the parking area. There are more waterfalls downriver with over four miles of well-maintained paths and trails along the river.

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