Explore Wildcat Branch Falls

By:Marie McAden


I’ve got another fun roadside attraction for you to check out on your next visit to the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. This one’s on the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway about five mile from the U.S. 276/S.C. 11 junction.

I’ve driven past Wildcat Branch Falls on my way to Caesars Head State Park dozens of times and only slowed down to take a quick peek at the cascade. But on my most recent trip to the Upstate, I decided to park the car in the pull-off and get a closer look at this popular waterfall.

What you see from the road is the last in a series of waterfalls formed by the Wildcat stream. The water cascades 20 to 30 feet down a slab of exposed granite into a shallow pool. On a hot summer day, you’ll find locals and visitors splashing around in the cool mountain water.

About 100 feet to the left of the falls, I discovered a set of steps leading to an easy mile-long, out-and-back trail that takes you to the 100-foot upper falls.

As soon as you walk past the top of the lower falls, you’ll come across an open area with the remains of an old Civilian Conservation Corps building. All that’s left is the foundation and stone chimney.

At the far edge of the clearing, you’ll cross a small bridge, following the creek through a forest of oak and hemlock to a small drop where it falls over some large rocks.

Another 10 minutes up the trail, you’ll reach the bottom of the 100-foot upper cascades. In truth, it’s more of a waterslide than a waterfall, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Several serious accidents have occurred when people have attempted to climb the dangerous boulders, so enjoy the view from the bottom and avoid ruining your trip to the mountains.

If you visit Wildcat Branch Falls on a weekend, you’ll have the chance to purchase hot boiled peanuts from a local vendor parked in the pull-off — another great reason to stop at this wayside attraction.

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